Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama vs. FOX News

President Obama is getting criticism for going after Fox News. I fault the White House too: for not going far enough. The real issue is not Fox's right wing "bias." The real issue is that FOX News seems to be trawling for assassins. Here's the letter White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs should write. Or maybe it should come from the head of United States Secret Service.

Dear Rupert Murdoch, since you are responsible for what is on Fox News I have a question for you: Do you ever wonder how you'll be remembered by Americans and the world (not to mention your children) if someone takes a shot at President Obama, and when asked why they did it, quotes the misinformation spouted by Fox News as their "reason"?

You have dozens of far right and dangerous and/or crazy seeming commentators working for you but lets just talk about one as an example of the rest. What of Glenn Beck?

Does the name Father Charles Coughlin ring a bell? Do you want to be remembered as the facilitator of today's version of that deranged radio personality and hater who hounded President Roosevelt? What if a Coughlin devotee had assassinated Roosevelt? Instead of just being a nasty footnote to American history Coughlin would be remembered as another John Wilkes Booth. What if Coughlin had had someone with money and virtually unlimited influence backing him and amplifying his remarks? How would we feel about his backer?

Glenn Beck is a second rate, not terribly bright Coughlin-type demagogue with rather dimwitted followers. And you are the paymaster making his silliness dangerous by giving him a voice that would otherwise be heard only by those who happened to hear him barking at the moon on some lonely street corner.

You've given today's Coughlins -- the haters -- a national platform. And they have taken the lies of the "birthers", "deathers", "Obama-is-the-Antichristers" etc., nationwide. It was a bad day for America when you became a citizen for the sole purpose of purchasing TV stations and invading us with your far right agenda. But you've gone way past politics, even the politics of hate.

You have legitimized actual insanity by widespread repetition of extremist racist and religion-based lies to the sort of people who believe the earth is 6000 years old, that Jesus will come back soon and send everyone not like them to Hell, that Obama is the Antichrist. In other words you've got the keys to the national asylum, are stirring up the inmates and threatening to unlock the door!

Here's a sample (compiled with the help of Media Matters and the online magazine Crooks and Liars) of just a small stock of the incendiary rhetoric and bare-faced lies your money pays for.

Fox News host Glenn Beck has:

# said President Obama has, "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,"

# flirted with the idea that FEMA is building detention camps,

# suggested that President Obama is purposefully "tanking" the economy to force young people to work for AmeriCorps,

# said that Obama is "moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism,"

# stated: "We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination..."

# says Obama "Wants you to work as a bureaucratic slave to government."

# said: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing? Do you not hear -- do you not hear the cries of people who are saying stop? We would like some sanity in our country for a second! We didn't vote to lose the republic."

# ran several segments, including one on his radio show, promoting the concept of the secession of Texas from the Union,

# promotes "one world government" paranoia, including a supposed plot to put us all on a global currency controlled by the New World Order,

# warned his audience about Obama's supposed secret plot to grab our guns,

# speculated that it is actually liberal "political correctness" that inspires right-wingers to go on murderous killing rampages...

Rupert Murdoch; is there a limit? If Beck was shrieking, "Kill the uppity nigger in the White House!" would that be okay too? Would it be any more of an incitement to violence than what Beck is saying now?

You can't claim you're not having a baleful impact. How about this? According to the Boston Globe ("Secret Service Strained" October 18, 09),

The unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, a rise in racist hate groups, and a new wave of antigovernment fervor threaten to overwhelm the US Secret Service, according to government officials and reports, raising new questions about the 144-year-old agency’s overall mission.

Where is this "new wave of antigovernment fervor" coming from? Media barons have started a war or two before but I don't recall one fomenting the climate wherein an assassination attempt becomes virtually inevitable. Far fetched? Who stirred up that nut in Pittsburgh who shot down three police officers because he believed that Obama was going to order cops to take away his guns?

Don't you know that here in America we have a rather large angry far right well-armed subculture thriving on imagined insults and nursing a perpetual grievance against the "other"? Don't you have any qualms about feeding them the red meat of hate, lies and incitement?

However you got to this point you still have a choice: reign in FOX News, fire Beck, speak out to undo some of the lies you have told through your people about our President, our country and the world, or go down in history as the man who fed the unhinged haters lies until one or more of them boiled over in some desperate act and lashed out.

You are playing Russian roulette with American history. When your name is forever linked to an act of history-derailing domestic terror your billions won't save you from the place in history reserved for a select group of monsters. When your name is linked to our next Oklahoma-type bombing or the killing of one of our elected leaders, nothing else you did in your life will be remembered.


Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) =


gmftech said...

I decided a long time ago not to sit in the furthest corner of my house with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other while watching FOX news on tv.

That being said...'barking at the moon on some lonely street corner'...priceless. Thanks for the laugh

Anonymous said...

Very well written piece. I think Mr Schaffer covered all relevant points. Sad that someone would even have to write a story like this.

Anonymous said...

Beck is a by-product of our culture of consumerism but that culture can also be his downfall: Watch him if you must to understand, but studiously avoid patronizing his sponsors. (Write them down and post them online if possible) It will take time and commitment but eventually it will bleed away FOX's financial incentive to give him a platform.


BeamStalk said...

Very well written and stated letter.

Gregasaurus said...

Very Well written piece, as for Beck and the other Fox boneheads who thrive in being factually wrong about everything because they are only their own opinions coming from a retarded starting point , no offense to the challenged here but my point is the same. I do fear that Our President is in Danger after watching the Teabaggers(double meaning intended here)spread their hatred for our President, I fear if anything happens to Obama there will be a war in the streets in protest...Isn't this what the far right wants? As Mr. Schaeffer so elequently put it" right wing nutjobs go to the mountaintops and wait for the end of the world, let the rest of us live and run and get things done. Mr. Gregory Duran, Oxnard,Ca

Anonymous said...

I've been worried about the same thing for some time. We have Republican politicians "joking" about getting hunting tags for Obama and hunting tree-hugging liberals. There are many more instances of such shooting jokes about Democrats by high ranking Republicans that wouldn't be tolerated if done toward a Republican official. Sure you'd have the occasional nut holding a sign about shooting Bush, but you never heard members of Congress or state legislatures saying it, and yet that's what we have repeatedly by GOP elected officials. And then we have Fox News and other Right Wing media egging on violence towards Obama and other Democrats.

Barry Considine said...

Mr. Schaeffer, has once again struck a truly honest chord about American political discourse in 2009. I was recently trying to have a real dialouge with a pseudo family member. He is the husband of the daughter of my brother's 2nd wife. My brother is on to wife number three and a devout born again Christian that believes President Obama is a socialist just like FDR was. In the course of trying to reach out to this person, to have a real dialouge I sent him something else yor wrote. I got back the usual people were threatening to assassinate Bush, Liberals want America to be a socialist country... The one that tore it for me was "liberals say they are tolerant but really are very intolerant." And isn't that their word game in a nutshell. Acuse the opposing point of view of just what they are guilty of. Please keep showing that people can have faith and not be politcal zealots. Peace

Sastry Isukapalli said...

Thank you very much for an insightful and clear take on the volatile climate that is being created by Fox. I hope the mainstream media takes these points and discusses them [though I am not holding my breath].

Anonymous said...

Truth is Truth... If there must be be the threat of violence for peace, to decouple a selfish, prideful, profit directed, loveless, fool from a ruleing position over me... then so be it. Otherwise he can show me love, and i'll show him love.

Anonymous said...

No matter who the messenger is, seek the truth. Listen to who you choose and then take the information and verify it for yourself.

Don't point and wag fingers. Every news outlet has it's own agenda. The facts and the facts and Fox has broken stories that others have ignored.

Still, don't believe them. Dig for the truth yourself.

By the way, I seriously doubt the statement about Obama being a target. No one wishes him harm. We just wish he will not do our country any more harm.

Anonymous said...

HORSE SHIT, PURE AND SIMPLE you libtard assclown. Maobama has brought this all on his self, and you idiots can not see that. That was not politically correct & not White House Approved. Now shove that where the sun don't shine.

Anonymous said...

If Beck weren't exposing the truth of Obama, they wouldn't be so worried about him. If harm comes to Obama, it won't be a Beck fan. It will probably be a lib posing as a Beck fan. Liberals love fake scandals.

Anonymous said...

What a blithering bunch of nonsense. Why is dissent from the right not allowed in your world? I suggest that all of you crack out your copies of Orwell's Animal Farm, and convince me that we are not living it today! I pose the example of this idiotic "public option" within Obama's "healthcare reform" as a classic example. When I and actually, all of you can have the same healthcare plan as all of congress has,rather than be forced to accept what they think is good for all of us, I'll consider it. All of you nuts worship at the altar of "climate change" which of course you had to rename because "global warming" does not exist.

Anonymous said...

I also think this was very well written. But most of what Glen Beck says is true. If someone doesn't believe that President would like to disarm Americans, control the media and set up a global economy then they are lying to themselves... but I suspect most people who say that they don't know this are lying to everyone else because they want the exact same things that President Obama wants, fortunately most Americans don't.

John said...


I remember when CNN was referred to as the “Clinton News Network”. For many years the Left have enjoyed receiving the news with their media pushing the Left agenda. Fox News Network is and should be able to do their reporting catering to the Right. Republicans and Conservatives don’t want to hear CNN’s skewed and favored reporting that constantly lauds and praises Obama’s every move and decision. We enjoy the ability and right to be critical of our leaders in this country. That’s my interpretation of “Fair and Balanced”. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, they all praise this president as if everything he does is without flaw and any person or network who should criticize or demand answers with this administration is an “extremist” or “not a real news network”. The fact that this President has even mocked Fox for their reporting is incorrigible. For instance, he and his administration lack the courage to answer questions which Fox News has asked regarding Social/National Healthcare: Who and how will pay for it and what is the cost? This administration is furious that Fox demand that American’s have a right to know and Obama simply won’t answer or address those questions. Of course we all know the answer; higher taxes, higher taxes for everyone. That’s the Democrats way for paying for anything; throwing someone else’s money at a problem is the answer. And, in Obama’s world, the capitalists who have earned more money must bear the burden for covering the cost of those who have less. Not less government spending and wasting. Spreading the money of the wealthiest among the poorest and then simply printing money which we don’t have will cure all of America’s ills. Right?
As far as the “opinion pieces” on Fox; give me a break! I watch them with a grain of salt as mostly entertainment. They are, after all, opinion pieces. O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck; although all make valid points and even intriguing challenges, they are not reporters. They simply share their views in an entertaining, unique and over the top tendency. Sure, they’re very critical of this administration and have every right to voice their collective disgust. As much as the Left may despise them, Beck, Hannity and O’Reilly all check facts and are true Patriots concerned for the state of affairs in our country. In fact, it’s their diligent and exhausting checking of facts and exposing truths that the Left media would rather hide from the masses that anger their opponents. Remember, fair and balanced, the Left pushes their agenda, Fox has the right to cater and report to the Right audience. Funny how this whole Freedom of Speech thing works, isn’t? Open debate, expressing disgust and even criticizing the powers that be is the cornerstone of our freedom in this country. Obama should be ashamed of himself, but, he has his own definition of freedom: everyone is free to agree with him and his administration or get bullied and threatened.
Remember this: this president promised that his administration would conduct business with greater transparency and higher standards than any other president has ever done, just ask his Czars…..Fox is doing their job in questioning, criticizing and demanding answers from this administration. We, as Americans need to constantly and vigilantly put our elected leaders under a microscope and make sure their decisions are best for our country and countrymen. Bush sure was put through the media shredder during his administration. Obama should be off limits? Oh, wait, I forgot, everything is Bush’s fault anyway; that’s the mantra of this administration. They’ll never own up to their short comings and mistakes. President Bush will forever be Obama’s, Pelosi’s and Biden’s scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

President Narcissist even named his dog after himself so why wouldn't he, all the other networds who fawn all over him and his groupies, like Frank Jr. , take exception to Fox News - the only opposing opinion on television?