June 13, 2009

God bless Joan Walsh. She finally did what I thought no one in the media was capable of doing: She shoved Bill O'Reilly's vicious words back in his face.

Or more correctly, she smacked him with the evil consequences of his reckless and irresponsible rhetoric, manifested in the case of Jim David Adkisson, the Knoxville shooter. And rather than respond, he simply shut up. If there had been more time, I expect he'd have cut her mike.

It was a thing of beauty.

Here are the lines Walsh, who was nastily attacked by O'Reilly the day before, delivered on-air last night on The O'Reilly Factor, to his face, that most of have wished someone would say someday:

Walsh: And you routinely attack, you routinely attack, people on the left, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Moore, who you think their rhetoric leads potentially to acts of violence. It never has led to one act of violence. But you've already driven that crazy guy in Knoxville last year who read your writings and then went and shot up a church and shot liberals, that's already happened once, and you don't feel any responsibility at all, now that it's happened a second time, Bill? Talk about blood on your hands.

The best O'Reilly could muster:

O'Reilly: Miss Walsh, I appreciate you coming on the program. I think everybody knows exactly where you're coming from.

If you watch the video -- I've included the entirety of his exchange with Walsh -- you can see that what led up to this was nine minutes of vintage O'Reilly: nasty, bullying, demanding quick answers to ridiculously leading questions. It started reaching quite a pitch near the end:

Walsh: And look, Bill, you crusaded against him, he had been shot twice already, his clinic had been exploded, his place had been attacked, bombed, vandalized --

O'Reilly: I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry about that. But my constitutional right says, I can say what I say, you can say what you say, as vile as you say it, you can say it, and I would never condemn you for saying it. You are misguided, you have blood on your hands because you portrayed this man as a hero, when he killed late-term babies for casual reasons.

Now, that's just bizarre: He calls someone's words "vile" and declares they have "blood on their hands" in the same breath in which he declares "I would never condemn you for saying it".

Bill O'Reilly "would never condemn" someone for saying what they think? That's perhaps the most outrageous lie, among a steady stream of them, that O'Reilly has ever uttered. O'Reilly regularly, steadily, and remorselessly condemns people for saying what they think. Garofalo and Moore are only the most frequent examples. Hell, that's what his entire show is predicated upon. The reason his ambush crews are so problematic is that they hunt down and harass private citizens merely for saying things Bill O'Reilly doesn't like.

I've known Joan Walsh for many years, and have always thought well of her, despite some philosophical differences -- including, I've thought, not showing enough toughness at times. But after last night, all I can say is:

God bless Joan Walsh.

BTW, below the fold you can see the clip of Falafel Bill setting up this segment in his "Talking Points Memo". It is almost as nastily delusional as what follows:

Just to back up Walsh's point: Below is an excerpt from the opening pages of my new book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right:

In July of 2008, a graying, mustachioed man from the Knoxville suburb of Powell, Tennessee, sat down and wrote out by hand a four-page manifesto describing his hatred of all things liberal and his belief that “all liberals should be killed.”

When he was done, Jim David Adkisson drove his little Ford Escape to the parking lot of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. A few days before, the church had attracted media attention for its efforts to open a local coffee shop for gays and lesbians. Leaving the manifesto on the seat of the car, he walked inside the church carrying a guitar case stuffed with a shotgun and 76 rounds of ammunition.

The congregants were enjoying the opening scene from the church’s production of the musical Annie Jr. when Adkisson, in a hallway outside the sanctuary, abruptly opened the guitar case, pulled out the shotgun, fired off a harmless round that startled everyone, then walked into the sanctuary and began firing indiscriminately. Witnesses report he was saying “hateful things.” An unsuspecting 61-year-old grandmother and retired schoolteacher named Linda Kraeger was hit in the face with a shotgun blast. A 60-year-old foster father named Greg McKendry got up to shield others from the attack and was hit in the chest.

When Adkisson stopped to reload, a group of men, who had already begun closing around him, tackled him and wrested away his gun. Adkisson complained that the men were hurting him. "The only thing he said was he was asking us to get off of him, that he wasn't doing anything," said Jamie Parkey, one of the men who tackled him. "We just looked at each other incredulously, like 'How dare you?' "

Greg McKendry was dead at the scene. Linda Kraeger died the next day. Seven other congregants were wounded.

A detective who interviewed Adkisson and examined his four-page manifesto reported to his superiors that Adkisson targeted the church "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

When the detective interviewed Adkisson, he said he’d decided that since "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office."

Knoxville’s police chief told reporters the next day that Adkisson was motivated by his "hatred of the liberal movement" and "liberals in general, as well as gays." He was also frustrated by his inability to get a job, a problem he also blamed on liberals. His neighbors in Powell described Adkisson as “a Confederate” and a “believer in the Old South.”

When detectives went to Adkisson’s home in Powell, they found—scattered among the ammunition, guns, and brass knuckles—books written by leading conservative pundits: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder by Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, and The O’Reilly Factor by Bill O’Reilly, among others. Adkisson’s manifesto, released some months later to the public, was in fact largely a distillation of these works, ranting about how “Liberals have attack'd every major institution that made America great. … Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they're Marxist, socialist, communists.”

And then he went the next logical step, in the logic of anger:

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. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence.

… If decent patriotic Americans could vote 3 times in every election we couldn't stem this tide of liberalism that's destroying America. Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great Nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is Kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather.

I'd like to encourage other like minded people to do what I've done. If life aint worth living anymore don't just Kill yourself, do something for your country before you go. Go Kill Liberals.

The events that sunny Sunday left the church’s pastor, Rev. Chris Buice, with a shattered congregation. “People were killed in the sanctuary of my church, which should be the holy place, the safe place. People were injured,” he told PBS’s Rick Karr a couple of weeks later. “A man came in here, totally dehumanized us—members of our church were not human to him. Where did he get that? Where did he get that sense that we were not human?”


You can read the excerpts from Adkisson's manifesto at this post.

UPDATE: Walsh has her account up at Salon.

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