April 16, 2009

Shepard Smith brought that rarest of things to Fox News yesterday: amid the cacophony over the Tea Parties, he actually committed an act of journalism. In the process, he also managed to also bring a voice of sanity to the nonstop right-wing shrieking at Fox over the recent Department of Homeland Security bulletin about the possible rise of right-wing extremism.

In fact, Smith confirms everything we've reported here: Not only is the report focused entirely on the very real problem of the lethally violent potential of extremist right-wing terrorism, but mainstream conservatives' wailing and teeth-gnashing over it is -- besides being an egregious display of a persecution complex -- if anything a tacit admission of their own complicity in fueling extremist rhetoric.

Catherine Herridge looked into the claims of the Malkinites and essentially blew it all out of the water:

Herridge: Essentially, the driver in these intelligence assessments is the downturn in the economy. What they say, essentially, is that when people have less money, that they're out of work, they feel disenfranchised. This is fertile ground for groups on the left as well as groups on the right.

And you remember, from reporting on this show, Shep, that even at the end of last year, prior to the inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration was sounding the alarm about the potential for right-wing groups to act, specifically because of the economy, and also because America was going to have its first African-American president.

Smith: So if this bulletin from April 7 looks at the right-wing groups, is there a bulletin that looks at left-wing groups as well?

Herridge: Yeah, we were able to obtain that bulletin as well. It came out in January, and didn't get -- there it is -- didn't get the same attention. It looked specifically at groups like the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, groups that in the opinion of Homeland Security, in the future will try and attack economic targets and specifically use cyber-attacks, because they see that is sympatico, or in concert with some of their other beliefs.

So there are two assessments. The one on the left, the one on the right is the one that's getting the attention because of the leak.

... I would point out that both of these assessments, Shep, were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he left office.

Smith then featured an interview with intelligence specialist Mike Baker, who confirmed Herridge's reporting further and suggested that conservatives were grasping at some self-revealing straws here.

Still, that didn't prevent Sean Hannity, only a few hours later, from pontificating at length with Joe the Plumber about how the mean DHS was targeting the tea parties:

They never learn. Indeed, it seems the more wrong the wingnuts are, the more relentless they become. This morning, Janet Napolitano went on Fox to try to explain, and apologized that it came out looking bad -- though that was more the fault of her critics. Here's DHS' official statement.

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