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helen thomas flkr mtkrFebruary 15, 2009

By Rady Ananda

Mainstream media hate speech is linked to the shooting spree in a liberal church last year. But don’t ask any of those ‘venom boys’ to recognize the connection. Point it out to them.

Bill O’Reilly can’t deepen my low regard of him. I expect little that is fine, decent or humane from him.  When he attacked Helen Thomas, a veteran journalist, on his Comedy Hate show that passes for news at mainstream media, I shook my head in disgust.  When he invited Courtney Martin from The Women’s Media Center onto his show and then interrupted, shouted and demeaned her, I was not surprised. 

After all, I saw the documentary Outfoxed. I know what to expect from a man who never lets facts get in the way of his opinions.  He repeatedly told Jeremy Glick, who lost his father on 911, “Shut up. Shut up.” Glick blames the US for the attacks “by radical extremists who were trained by this government.”  O’Reilly is beyond rude and insensitive; he’s conscienceless.

What shocked me was my first exposure to hatemonger, Bernie Goldberg, who trivialized the 65-year career of a veteran journalist by frothing, “Helen Thomas’ 15 minutes of fame were up during the Lincoln Administration.” 

In responding to media criticism of his and O’Reilly’s sexist and ageist attacks, Goldberg boasted the Left is “throwing spitballs at battleships.”  This from someone who admires opiate addicts like Rush Limbaugh because they’re “stand up guys.”  Some battleship.

Goldberg accuses liberals of hate speech in his Screwing up America book, but defended Dick Cheney telling Sen. Patrick Leahy to go fuck himself.  How’s that for civility?  Of course, he can’t recognize his own misogyny when whining that the Left attacked Palin with rampant sexism (which it did).  In that same book he called Courtney Love a “Ho.” 

Robin Morgan posted an essay pointed out the hypocrisy of the right wing in suddenly condemning media’s sexist/misogynist treatment of Sarah Palin, after eviscerating Hillary Clinton:

“Conservatives now complain about “misogynistic” coverage of continually emerging political misdeeds by Palin—who herself denounced as “whiners” those millions of us livid at media sexism and Democratic National Committee (DNC) indifference to it in their joint political gangbang of Hillary last spring. The gall is breathtaking.

“Never before have the words “sexism” and “feminism” sputtered their way out of so many hypocritical right-wing jaws, appropriated overnight by people who for … 40 years denounced anyone working for women’s rights, including calling us “FemiNazis.”

The right wing hate machine fails to recognize its own hypocrisy. Even worse, its hate speech has been directly linked to a mass shooting.

Bernie Goldberg’s list of fans includes Jim David Adkisson, the nutjob who shot up a liberal church last year.  The killing was “symbolic” because he really wants to kill everyone mentioned in Goldberg’s Screwing up America book.  I can’t imagine writing something that would inspire murder, but the right wing hatemongers do it all the time.  Knoxville News Sentinel published the full manifesto, excerpted below:

“Know this if nothing else: This was a hate crime. I hate the damn left-wing liberals…. This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book.”

Sara Robinson provided this analysis, noting that “police searched Adkisson’s apartment and found it filled with books and newsletters penned by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and other right-wing hate talkers.”  She goes on to say:

Nicely done, Messrs. Hannity, Goldberg, Limbaugh, Savage and O’Reilly — and all your lesser brethren who keep the hate speech spewing 24/7/365 across every field and into every shop in the country. There is no more debate to be had, no more doubt about it: What you did in the name of ‘entertainment,’ and for the sake of the almighty ratings, raised and animated a monster like Jim Adkisson, gave him a list of targets … and was directly responsible for the deaths of two brave and decent people.  Adkisson was clearly angry and crazy — but his ‘manifesto’ draws the clearest, brightest line possible between the media he consumed and his actions that terrible Sunday morning.”

David Neiwert, whose forthcoming book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right which discusses the wellsprings of this phenomenon in depth, highlighed this from Adkisson’s manifesto:

“In a parallel train of thought; It saddens me to think back on all the bad things that Liberalism has done to this country. The worst problem America faces today is Liberalism. They have dumbed down education, they have defined deviancy down. Liberals have attack’d every major institution that made America great. From the Boy Scouts to the military; from education to Religion. The Major News outlets have become the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they’re Marxist, socialist, communists.”

Neiwart comments: “This paragraph seems like an almost crystalline amalgam of the kind of eliminatist rhetoric that is spewed every day over the nation’s media by the likes of O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and their swarms of ignoble imitators — including Bernie Goldberg….  These guys are big battleships, dontcha know.  Why be bothered with such little spitballs as basic decency and integrity?”

Bonnie Erbe of US News & World Report wrote:

“Quite frankly I’d have a better time parking on a freeway in rush hour and dealing with all the angry motorists, than watching Venom Boy spew. Can’t somebody recommend to O’Reilly a competent psychotherapist?”

More than that, these venom boys need to be defanged.  Progressive, alternative media needs to fight back – not with hatred, but by exposing the links between their hate speech and crimes inspired by it, and by exposing their lies, distractions and growing irrelevance in a world that finds its news in more reliable outlets.