It sure seemed that everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- at Fox News was focused yesterday on beating down the horrifying idea that somehow Fox News' incendiary rhetoric might have played a significant role in fomenting Saturday's horrifying tragedy in Arizona.
Of course, Glenn Beck -- being one of the chief purveyors of said incendiary rhetoric -- was out there leading the attack, devoting his entire hour to his newfound desire to prevent political violence. Indeed, he iussed a "letter to America" yesterday containing a pledge he wants everyone else to sign decrying any attempt to connect political violence to the rhetoric that precedes it:
I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence. I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen.
In other words: I denounce people who would like to blame me for inspiring guys like Byron Williams, who openly credit me for inspiring them!
On his show, he responded to the critics -- especially those like David Brock at Media Matters, who demanded Rupert Murdoch take responsibility for this outcome: "You have the power to order them to stop using violent rhetoric, on and off of Fox's air. If they fail to do so, it is incumbent upon you to fire them or be responsible for the climate they create and any consequences thereof."
Beck: Well, I don't use it on or off the air, so I guess I'm in compliance, Media Matters.
Well, as Eric Boehlert has amply documented, this is simply a brazen lie: Beck has used violent rhetoric since nearly the first day he joined Fox News, and it has built and amplified since then.
Indeed, he uses two particular kinds of violent rhetoric in abundance. The first is eliminationist rhetoric, particularly the kind aimed at progressives:
Here you can see Beck call progressives a "cancer" (multiple times), "the disease that's killing us," a "virus," a "parasite," "vampires" who will "suck the life out" of the Democratic Party, and claim that progressives intend the "destruction of the Constitution" and will strike it a "death blow".
Then there's the fearmongering rhetoric he uses to demonize his opponents:
This kind of talk even earned him the sobriquet "Fearmonger in Chief" from the ADL.
Hey Glenn! Here's something you could add to your "pledge":
"I choose not to hold my political opponents up for dehumanization and demonization in a way that makes them the object of fear and loathing and a target for violent elimination."
You take that pledge, and we might listen.