Monday, January 24, 2011

Beck and Francis Fox Piven: Do we have to wait for someone to get hurt before Fox acts?

-- by Dave

Movement conservatives seem to believe that they've won the narrative after the tragic shootings in Tucson -- namely, that Jared Lee Loughner was just a nutcase and there was nothing political about his attack on a Democratic congresswoman.

Indeed, they seem to believe that it's now conventional wisdom that whenever an angry right-wing nut violently attacks an oft-demonized liberal target, it has nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with the demonizing rhetoric that preceded it. Just another "isolated incident." Even if we ARE up to 20 and counting.

The problem with this "wisdom"? Reality has a nasty way of intruding, as David at VC noted yesterday, from a New York Times report about how Beck's obsession with Frances Fox Piven has now produced death threats against her :

Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.

“Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote.

Fox News disagrees. Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president, said Friday that Mr. Beck would not be ordered to stop talking about Ms. Piven on television. He said Mr. Beck had quoted her accurately and had never threatened her.

“ ‘The Glenn Beck Program,’ probably above and beyond any on television, has denounced violence repeatedly,” Mr. Cheatwood said.

Not as often, however, as it has denounced Frances Fox Piven. We've given some ripe examples in the video above, but really, it pales in comparison to a more complete list, such as this account from Media Matters.

We've already seen what happens when Fox hosts hold individual people up for extreme demonization. When Bill O'Reilly called Dr. George Tiller a "Baby Killer" some 28 times, it was no surprise when a kook already worked up by an environment of hateful rhetoric walked into a church and shot Tiller in the head. And when O'Reilly more recently attacked Rep. Jim McDermott, a right-wing nutcase from California called McDermott up and issued a long string of obscene death threats.

Glenn Beck is a particular case. When a Beck fan named Charles Wilson was inspired to call and threaten Sen. Patty Murray, we heard nothing from Fox News. Likewise, when it became clear that would-be Tides Foundation terrorist Byron Williams was directly inspired by Beck as well, not a word was heard.

Now, having been directly confronted over the threats to Piven, this supposed news network is actually trying to stonewall its way past reality.

So far, we've been lucky that no one outside of two injured Oakland police officers has been physically injured by the nutcases Beck inspires. But death threats are a real injury too.

Which raises the question: Is Fox waiting until someone actually physically attacks Frances Fox Piven before convincing Beck to reel it in?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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