Right-Wing Media Consistently Downplayed Violent Threats Toward Obama, Dem Lawmakers



While the right-wing’s violent rhetoric is not directly responsible for the recent tragic shooting in Arizona, the current political rhetoric has reached an unacceptable level. Yet, the right-wing media has consistently downplayed displays of violence toward Democrats, portraying Democrats who received threats following the health care vote as overreacting or lying, while also downplaying the significance of protesters who attended rallies and events while armed.


Right-Wing Media Figures Downplay Threats Against Dem Lawmakers Following Health Care Vote

Beck: Obama Is “Poking And Prodding” People To Commit Violence. “They Need You To Be Violent. They Are Begging For It.” On his March 24 Fox News show, Glenn Beck referenced the “crazy tea baggers in the streets” and said, “Why would a government continue to poke you and poke you and poke you and poke you? Why would they say these things? Why have these people said these things about good Americans?” Beck later said: “This might be the most dangerous monologue I’ve ever done, because I am telling you now — they need you to be violent. They are begging for it. You’re being set-up. Do not give them what they want.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck3/24/10]

Hannity: “So Do You Think That This Is Just An Effort To Smear Conservatives?” During the March 24 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said that Democrats “are trying to make a big deal over the weekend and this is denied by a lot of people. I have not seen the videotape that confirms this yet. If anyone has it, send it to me. I want to see it, of racial slurs, anti-gay slurs being made at the Tea Party movement. Do we have any evidence that corroborates this at all?” Later, he asked: “So do you think that this is just an effort to smear conservatives? Is this a concerted effort to say, you know what? They are all a bunch of racists; they’re all a bunch of homophobes?” [Fox News, Hannity3/24/10]

Limbaugh Doubts Threats Of Violence; Tells Dems: “You’ve Caused” This Anger “With Your Arrogance, With Your Policies And With Your Legislation.” On the March 25, 2010, broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh discussed reports that Democratic lawmakers had been threatened with violence by dismissing their allegations and claiming that it was a “diversion” Democrats created  to “distract everybody’s attention” away from the health care reform legislation. Limbaugh added:

LIMBAUGH: [N]obody has to incite any anger.  Nobody has to drumbeat for anger because you’ve caused it.  You’ve caused it with your arrogance, with your policies and with your legislation. There is genuine anger.  A lot of Americans, Mr. Hoyer, think you’re destroying the country, and you’re smiling while you go about it.  And they don’t understand it.  They’ve always thought people in Washington were looking out for them, were taking care of representing their interests and making sure stuff like this didn’t happen.  But instead, they now think you’re causing it.  They now think you’re to blame for it.  I mean, what are people supposed to do, just sit around and pat themselves on the back and be happy ’cause Obama got his health care bill? […] LIMBAUGH: I think they should release all the information, all of the tapes, whatever they have.  See, no one supports threats or violence.  But it’s the left that does that.  It’s the left that does that in their protests and their marches.  But if there are threats, let’s see them.  Let’s see them all.  Let’s hear them all.  I don’t want to hear that you just feel threatened.  For crying out loud, people feel a gazillion things each and every day.  I’ll tell you what it is.  These people know that what they have done is universally unpopular.  They are trying to distract everybody’s attention and create sympathy for them by making up stories and lying about threats, death threats, when these people are the architects of how these kinds of threats and protest marches and violence work.  I mean, we don’t have anybody on our side that tried to blow up the Pentagon.  And certainly we don’t have anybody on our side who had a friend who tried to blow up the Pentagon who’s now president of the United States.  We don’t have anybody on our side wiping out cops.  Eric Cantor’s Virginia office was shot at last night.  Eric Cantor is a Republican. [Premiere Radio Networks, Rush Limbaugh Show3/25/10]

Limbaugh: Democrats Are “Making Up” Threats “For Political Purposes, For Political Gain.” Also during his March 25, 2010 broadcast, Limbaugh accused Democrats of “making up most of their stories for the express purpose of creating even more” threats, in order to “keep you distracted as best they can from what they’re doing.” He later added, “The Democrats are using these incidents for political purposes, for political gain.” [Premiere Radio Networks, Rush Limbaugh Show3/25/10]

Confederate Yankee: “[H]ave A Swing” At “Your Congressman.” In a March 24 blog post, right-wing blogger Confederate Yankee wrote that it is “totally unacceptable to threaten” Congress members’ “relatives or friends and put them in danger.” Confederate Yankee added: “Go to your Congressman’s office and scream at him in the most colorful language possible. Hang him in effigy at protests. If you’re willing to do the time for the crime, have a swing at him.” [Confederate Yankee, 03/24/10]

NewsBusters: Threats May Just Be “Crybaby Progressive Politicians Over Reacting To Criticism.” In a March 24 NewsBusters post, Mithridate Ombud wrote that while “[t]hose who commit violence in the name of politics deserve political change no more than they deserve leniency in sentencing,” President Obama’s “desire to continue ramming through the most divisive legislation — against his own creed — isn’t helping bring calm to even the most peaceful conservatives. And while the evidence of a violent right is scarce, there’s no limit to liberals attempting to make conservatives look evil.” Ombud further wrote, “Whether this is a shortcut to 2nd Amendment action, valid concern, or just a bunch of crybaby progressive politicians over reacting to criticism, it’s hard to tell.” Ombud concluded: “The media and politicians who are trying to construct a meme of conservative violence as we run up to the 2010 elections should only face the weapon they fear most; the ballot.” [NewsBusters, 03/24/10]

Dan Riehl On Threats Against Dems: They “Have Only Themselves To Blame For Threats,” Says They “Can Choke On It And Rot In Hell Where You Belong.” In a March 24 post on his blog titled, “Dems Have Only Themselves To Blame For Threats,” Dan Riehl wrote: “No one should seriously enjoy seeing this type of thing going on. Though, I’d add, the Netroots crowd would have absolutely no problem with this were the shoe on the other foot. But it’s not. It’s on theirs.” Riehl later wrote of Democrats who received threats:

And now, what? These malignant little tyrants want to play the victim? After victimizing America with their pathetic antics, their corrupt practices, all to push a destructive ideology America has long rejected? The Democrats are the real criminals here. They have torn the fabric of America with a repulsive world view they now hope to thrust upon the American people, whether we like it, or not. And the American people are beginning to say Not! – which is their God given right their Constitution, not some low rent, half-baked excuse for a politician, ensures for them. You broke it, the public trust, among other things. And now you’ve bought it. So, own it for once you miserable little cretins. Resign your offices and crawl back under your rocks if you can’t take the heat that you and no one else generated. And don’t expect us to feel sorry for you, or respect you for the wrath you’re now faced with confronting. That may be the only thing you actually deserve for the unjust and un-democratic way in which you’ve comported yourselves throughout this entire charade. You can choke on it and rot in hell where you belong after wards for all I care. You behaved like tyrants and now some few are treating you like tyrants. Where in the hell is the big surprise in that? Because I can’t find it. All I see is a bunch of miserable creatures unworthy of the offices they hold. And I can’t wait to see your sorry asses thrown out of them come this fall. Boo freakin’ hoo, too frickin’ bad! [Riehl World View, 03/24/10]

Limbaugh: “This Is All Part Of A Plan To Criminalize Dissent.” On the March 25 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh responded to threats against Democratic lawmakers by claiming:

LIMBAUGH: We’re going to get to this totally contrived Republicans causing all kinds of threats to Democrats story.  I’ll tell you, it’s a total diversion.  The Democrats are so losing the information war on the health care bill that they’re trying to do anything to distract everybody’s attention from it, and it’s as I said yesterday, this is all part of a plan to criminalize dissent.  Let me just ask you a question.  When is the last time you can recall a bunch of conservatives having a riot?  When is the last time you can recall a bunch of conservatives disrupting a congressional hearing?  When is the last time you can recall a bunch of conservatives coming out with books and movies on how to assassinate a president?  The simple fact of the matter is that this kind of behavior that these people are running around scared to death of and accusing people of, they are the authors of this kind of behavior.  These are the people that wrote the book on how to do this.  Our side doesn’t do this kind of stuff.  This is all made up, 95% of it’s made up and it’s being done to divert everybody’s attention.  [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show03/25/10]

Baker Equates Reporting On Threats Against Democrats To “Legitimizing Democratic Talking Points.” In a  March 25 blog post, NewsBusters’ Brent Baker complained:

Sounding more like MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann than impartial newscasts, ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night by legitimizing Democratic talking points meant to discredit critics of the just-passed health care bill. “Opposition to health care turns menacing,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer warned. CBS teased with audio clips — “Baby-murdering scumbag,””You are a dirtbag” and “I hope you die” — as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez cited “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform, even as public support for the plan is growing. [NewsBusters, 03/25/10, emphasis in original]

Doocy: “So Why Are People Angry? Maybe Because They Didn’t Want This Bill?” Teasing a segment about the threats against Democrats, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said: “Meanwhile, some House Democrats getting extra security after a series of death threats and even a little vandalism over their health care votes. So why are people angry? Well, maybe because they didn’t want this bill?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends3/25/10]

Kilmeade: “Are Democrats Using” Threats Of Violence “To Their Advantage To Marginalize Republican Opposition?” On the same episode of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: “Here’s the question, though: Is this a Democratic tactic to take some of the people on the fringe who are clearly out of line, doing things that show violence and threats because they feel as though the vote did not go their way. And are Democrats using that to their advantage to marginalize Republican opposition?” Kilmeade continued: “For example, Tim Kaine just put out an email — he’s a great guest of ours and is always insightful for us — put out an email saying, look at what’s happening out here in America amongst the other party. We’re going to need your help, send $5. So, wait a second. How outraged are you if you’re looking to raise money off the outrage?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends3/25/10]

Carlson Agrees It’s “Disappointing” That Democrats Are Making Threats So Public And Says “They Should Just Stop Discussing It All Together.” After Doocy said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) “thinks the Democrat lawmakers are feeding the public’s frenzy over the threats by discussing them so openly in the media,” Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson said: “It’s such a political thing, though, guys. I think it would be happening on the other side of the fence, too, that maybe the other political party would try to take advantage of a situation, and that’s disappointing. I think it’s disappointing — they should just stop discussing it all together. Just agree on the fact that it’s disappointing behavior, no matter who’s doing it.” Later, after Kilmeade said, “You hurt your own cause when you have racial epithets or have homophobic phrases,” Carlson stated, “It ruins it for everybody, just like the kid who acts up at the birthday party.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends3/25/10]

Fox & Friends Airs Viewer Emails Comparing Threats Against Democrats To American Revolution, William Ayers. After Carlson said, “The most important thing is what you think about all of this, because you are the ones that are going to go to the polls eventually,” Fox & Friends aired several emails from viewers that condemned the threats but immediately appeared to defend the actions. One email claimed that Democrats are using the threats “to gain sympathy. Like Rahm Emanuel said, ‘you never waste a crisis.'” Another read: “[W]hat did they expect when they basically stole from the…American people. What do they think 1776 was about & wasn’t there some violence back then?” A third email said: “I don’t like violence & it is wrong. Having said that, why should Democrats be surprised? Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground bombed the Pentagon & now he is a ‘respected’ speaker of the left. Why should Democrats expect anything different?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends3/25/10]

Excerpts from the emails:

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Cupp: Democrats “Want Us To Feel Sorry For Them That They’ve Gotten A Couple Of … Angry Voicemails.” On Hannity, commentator S.E. Cupp said, “You know, Democrats who did this — who sort of rammed this down our throats regardless of the fact that it actually won’t save us any money, it’s going to bankrupt us and the American people didn’t want it — want us to feel sorry for them that they’ve gotten a couple of angry, you know, voicemails. They should read my e-mail. You know, what did they expect? No one condones threats. No one condones the violence, but I’m glad people are angry. I hope they stay angry.” Earlier in the show, Cupp had promoted Andrew Breitbart’s decision to “combat the Congressional Black Caucus’ allegations” by promising to donate $10,000 to the “Black [sic] Negro College Fund” if someone can prove the “n word” was yelled at the congressmen. [Fox News, Hannity3/24/10]

Fox Nation: “Are Threats Really Elevated, Or Are Dems Playing Politics?” The Fox Nation displayed a picture of several Democratic congressmen with the headline, “Are Threats Really Elevated, or Are Dems Playing Politics?” The headline linked to a NewsBusters post that claimed there are “no specific examples of alleged threats of violence cited” and that the media and politicians are “trying to construct a meme of conservative violence as we run up to the 2010 elections.” From Fox Nation: [Fox Nation, 03/24/10]

Fox Nation

Charles Krauthammer: “I’m Sure A Lot Of This Is Trumped Up. … You Are Always Going To Have A Kook And A Nut Here And There.” On the March 24 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said of the threats, “I’m sure a lot of this is trumped up the way of the unruliness of some of the crowd on the day of the voting in the House was trumped up. You are always going to have a kook and a nut here and there. It’s being used by supporters of ObamaCare to tar opponents with, you know, threats, violence, being un-American in general. I think it ought to be denounced, as the Republicans have. It should be. But it’s not reflective of those who oppose the bill.” [Fox News, Special Report3/24/10]

Stephen Hayes: “This Happens All The Time,” “Counterproductive” For GOP To Condemn Them Again. Discussing GOP leaders’ condemnation of the threats on Special ReportWeekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes said: “They shouldn’t continue to do it. They did it. They did it once, and they should never do it again. That’s the end. He said we don’t approve of this. That’s it. If you continue to beat it up, it continues to be a story and it’s counterproductive.” Later, Hayes said, “This happens all the time, and I could refer to you my own voicemail sometimes after appearances on other programs and other networks where the vitriol level was every bit as harsh as what I heard in Bart Stupak’s voicemail.” [Fox News, Special Report3/24/10]

Beck Downplays Threats To Members Of Congress, Calling Concerns An “Overreaction”. From the March 25, 2010 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Or, I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone. BECK: Isn’t that a threat against the president’s life? Look, we’re in a time in America that I never thought we would get to. This is — your children and grandchildren are going to say, where were you? What did you do? What were you thinking? Keep a diary — it’s important — keep a diary. If you are on the frontlines of this debate, you’re going to get threats, believe me. And you have to take them seriously. If you’re in Congress or you’re just on television or you’re you, you have to take them seriously. But you’re getting them because you’re speaking out and making a difference. The more threats you get, the more you have to take them seriously, because there are nutjobs out there. But at no time have you ever heard me, ever, blame the threats or any of the violence on anyone other than the crazy people who are doing it. That’s where it belongs. But the left is pressuring now John Boehner to issue an apology, for what? What has John Boehner done? Did he hurt somebody? Is he teaching somebody how to build a bomb? It seems, if it was innocent, as just an overreaction to something where there is very little evidence of — very, very little. MSNBC and CNN are acting like this is a near-certainty that the right will act out at any moment. And they’re on hot standby. We could go at any time. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 3/25/10; accessed via Nexis]

Limbaugh Doesn’t “Buy” That Rep. Scott’s “Office Was Vandalized” By Health Care Opponent. Discussing reports that Rep. David Scott’s (D-GA) “office was vandalized less than a week after he got into a heated argument about health care at a community meeting,” Limbaugh declared that he didn’t “buy this” because it was “too politically convenient.” From the August 12, 2009 broadcast of his radio show:

LIMBAUGH; So let’s go to CNN Headline News, the dutiful State-Controlled Media, the anchor Robin Meade reporting this about Congressman David Scott, who is a Democrat from Georgia. […] MEADE:  Congressman Scott’s office was vandalized less than a week after he got into a heated argument about health care at a community meeting. LIMBAUGH:  I’m sorry, folks, I don’t buy this.  This is too politically convenient.  We know that Obama staged an event yesterday.  The Democrats are staging events.  It’s what they do. They don’t deal in reality. They don’t tell the truth.  I’m not buying that this happened with an angry, anti-health care person putting the swastika.  I think the Democrats are doing this themselves trying to make it an issue, because they know that dummkopfs like this infobabe are going to blame it on me.  I did find similarities, scary similarities between the Obama “Health Care Now” logo and something the Nazis used to use and we morphed it at my website, RushLimbaugh.com, and it is dangerously close.  Now, there’s no swastika in Obama’s logo.  I’m just talking about the entire shape of the thing — and nobody’s saying Obama’s Hitler. [Premiere Radio Networks, Rush Limbaugh Show8/12/09]

Limbaugh Dismisses SPLC Report On Increased Threats Against Obama as “100% Total Manufactured BS.” On his radio show, Limbaugh dismissed a Southern Poverty Law Center Report called “Threats Against Obama Growing as Inauguration Nears.” He later suggested that the SPLC’s “objective” in issuing this report was “fundraising, publicity seeking, [and] libeling opponents.” From his radio show:

ABC NEWS’ BRIAN ROSS [Audio Clip]:  And the Internet is full of references to the president as Hitler or as a socialist or as a racist.  To date, the Secret Service has disrupted at least three different assassination plots tied to white supremacist groups.  In a new report, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that since Obama took office, there has been a sharp growth in the so-called militia groups. LIMBAUGH:  This is 100% total manufactured BS.  It all comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center and a guy named Mark Potok. I don’t know how to pronounce his name but Mark Potok is the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project.  He’s a columnist at the Huffington Post.  He is the source of all of these hate crime stories, and he has been for years.  There is also an article at ABC posted by Brian Ross on their website.  Much of this article has been dutifully spouted almost word-for-word in literally dozens of articles generated by Mr. Potok from the Southern Poverty Law Center.  They only differ, really, in citing contemporary details to make the story seem fresh, but they’re ultimately the same claims that Potok has been making from the start.  If you Google “Potok” and “hate” and “racism,” it returns 21,600 hits.  This guy has been trying to gin this up since before Obama was inaugurated.  In fact, even since before Obama was elected.  This whole thing is calculated to divide and distract.  It indicates just how unhinged and out of whack the White House is on this. […] Let me ask you a question, ladies and gentlemen.  If someone ran an intelligence project like at the Southern Poverty Law Center that actually went out there and researched and identified an increased threat level to the president of the United States, and if one’s objective were to help the president avoid such threats, rather than one’s objective being something else, like fundraising, publicity seeking, libeling opponents, whatever, what would you do?  If you were out there really researching death threats, and you find an increased threat level to the president, what would you do?  You would quietly call the Secret Service.  You would quietly pass along whatever information you had developed.  You would not go public with it because that would tend to incite and create copycat behavior.  You would be quiet about it.  Damn right I’m questioning the motives of the Southern Poverty Law Center. [Southern Poverty Law Center, 01/18/10, Premiere Radio Networks, Rush Limbaugh Show8/14/09]

Trotta: “The Left Wing Virtually Invented Violent Dissent” And The Press Is “Wildly Exaggerating And Embroidering” Threats To Members Of Congress. On the March 27 edition of Fox News’ America’s News HQ, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta said: “The left wing virtually invented violent dissent going all the way back to the 1960s. So to hear everybody wildly exaggerating and embroidering what’s happened in Washington is really rather laughable. And the media has been suckered into it.” [Fox News, America’s News HQ, 3/27/10]

Lopez: “Threats Are Wrong. But They Also Are Somewhat Commonplace.” In a post on National Review Online’s The Corner blog, Kathryn Jean Lopez quoted from Hinderaker’s Powerline post and downplayed the threats against Democrats:

Threats are wrong. But they also are somewhat commonplace. Take deep breaths and work harder, is my advice to anyone to receives one. Let’s not pretend that Obamacare critics are all violent or otherwise breed violence. And let’s not pretend that John Boehner and Eric Cantor, or Jonah Goldberg and Kathryn Lopez, haven’t been subject to ridiculous — albeit disconcerting — threats, too. This is bad news, but it didn’t materialize this Saturday or Sunday with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. [National Review Online, 03/25/10]

Big Government: “We Doubt These Threats Are Actually Real And, Certainly Wouldn’t Condone Them.” In a March 25 post, BigGovernment.com blogger “Publius,” wrote: “Democrats and the leftist media are all atwitter about alleged threats of violence against Congressmen who voted for ObamaCare. We doubt these threats are actually real and, certainly wouldn’t condone them.” The post continued: “But, here’s a tip: Hey Democrats, if you are worried about an angry public, how about not passing a sweeping government expansion opposed by 70% of the public. Just a thought.” [Big Government, 03/25/10]

Big Journalism’s Walsh: Media “Never Once Stops To Question Whether The Alinsky Party Is, You Know, Exaggerating Or Even Lying” About Threats. In a March 24 post on Breitbart’s BigJournalism.com about a report noting House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer warned Democrats about potential violence, Michael Walsh wrote: “Naturally, the media accepts this allegation at face value, and never once stops to question whether the Alinsky Party is, you know, exaggerating or even lying — as the spiritual mentor of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton taught it to do.” Walsh later wrote: “So listen up, MSM [mainstream media], and consider this speaking out: God forbid that anything should happen. But if it does happen, try not to leap to pre-planted conclusions that fit the narrative: ‘Democrats good/Republicans bad.’ ” [Big Journalism, 03/24/10]

NewsBusters’ Brent Baker Downplays Threats Against Democratic Lawmakers, Calls Threat Against Cantor “Real.” In a March 30 blog post, NewsBusters’ Brent Baker complained that “networks led last week with less-immediate threats against Democrats” but “weren’t so interested in a real case of a death threat against a Republican.” [NewsBusters, 3/30/10]

Gateway Pundit: “Suddenly The State-Run Media is Horrified That Politician’s [sic] Home Addresses Are Published on the Internet.” In a March 24 post responding to reports that the FBI was investigating an incident at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-VA) brother, where a gas line was allegedly cut, Jim Hoft wrote, “Suddenly the State-Run Media is Horrified that Poli