July 27, 2010

Glenn Beck was all hyped up about last week's Netroots Nation gathering in Vegas, especially the frequency with which he was mentioned. The reason, he said, was that "this was really about you" (which is, of course, one of the rhetorical devices Beck uses to get his viewers to identify with him).

He was especially struck by the remarks made by our friend and sometime C&L contributor, Color of Change's James Rucker, who has been the point person in organizing one of the most effective advertiser boycotts of Beck's program.

Beck: We're exposing the progressive agenda to the light of day. And that is what he has a problem with. Watch:

Rucker: No one knew what Tides was until Glenn Beck started -- I mean, people outside of our political world didn't know Tides, until Glenn Beck's blackboard.

Beck: Now wait a minute. We did talk about Tides. There I am -- last September. We talked about Tides! Well, why wouldn't you want us talking about Tides? Aren't they helping people? Aren't they working for social justice? Isn't that what all of your progressive friends are working towards? Why would you hide it?

Gee, Glenn, no one's trying to hide the Tides Foundation. And no one minds anybody -- Fox News included -- "talking about" them. What they object to, rather, is your scapegoating them: unleashing a torrent of violent eliminationist rhetoric, ripe with fearmongering and falsehoods, in their direction.

The reason James Rucker mentioned the Tides Foundation, in fact, was a news story Beck assiduously has avoided mentioning -- namely, the gunman in Oakland last week who targeted the Tides Foundation after watching Beck's program.

Funny that Beck seems blissfully unaware of this incident, isn't it?

Especially when, as Media Matters has explained in detail, Beck appears to be the primary, if not sole, inspiration for this violent nutcase's choice of target:

According to his mother, Williams "watched the news on television and was upset by 'the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items.'"

We don't know what Williams was watching, or that television played a role in his decision to target Tides. However, if it did, according to our Nexis searches, the primary person on cable or network news talking about the Tides Foundation in the year and a half prior to the shootout was Fox News' Glenn Beck.

According to our searches, since Beck's show premiered on January 19, 2009, Tides has been mentioned on 31 editions of Fox News programs, 29 of which were editions of Beck's show (the other two were on Sean Hannity's program). In most of those references, Beck attacked Tides, often weaving the organization into his conspiracy theories. Two of those Beck mentions occurred during the week before Williams' shootout.

On July 14, Beck said:

You believe that America is the last best hope for the free world. Boy, was I a moron for believing that. Nope, there are a lot of people that believe that we are the oppressor. This man states it. He states in this book "The purpose is to create mass organizations to seize power." Wow! That almost sounds like the Tides Foundation.

On July 13, Beck said:

Well, they have the education system. They have the media. They have the capitalist system. What do you think the Tides Foundation was? They infiltrate and they saw under Ronald Reagan that capitalists were not for all of this nonsense, so they infiltrated. Now, they are using failing capitalism to destroy it.

By contrast, since January 19, 2009, according to our Nexis search, Tides was not mentioned on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, or PBS. Not once. This search is not perfect -- Nexis does not include, for example, MSNBC's daytime coverage. But the contrast with Beck's coverage is stark.

As if to illustrate the point in yesterday's segment, Beck ruminated a little later -- inspired by Harry Reid's promise at Netroots that a public option will eventually pass the Congress -- in a way that very much sounded like he's promoting violent action:

Beck: You know, it's funny, I don't know what's going to wake your friends and neighbors up. I really don't. I don't know. Are they still saying it couldn't happen here in America? Is that what they're saying? I don't know what else it takes to wake your friends and neighbors up. But their freedoms are being lost. They're being stolen in the cover of darkness. It's like these guys are wearing an invisibility coat, or think they're wearing an invisibility cloak, and -- and everybody can see them. Like, 'Hm, no' -- your neighbors -- 'No, I can't see them.' 'But they're right there!'

I have a sense -- I have a sense that there is growing frustration in this country. I have a sense also that there are lunatics everywhere -- on the left and the right -- that have no problem killing. Because that's what lunatics like to do. The average American, I fear, is about to say, 'I give up. I give up.'

All of this -- particularly the vicious attacks on the Tides Foundation -- constitutes a classic example of eliminationist rhetoric -- something Beck has been doing for a long time, with progressives as his main target. Beck always tries to claim that he's being victimized and his free speech attacked whenever this is pointed out -- even though link between hateful rhetoric and violent behavior is a well-established one with a long and sorrowful track record.

We wondered not too long ago how long it would be before someone decided to act on Beck's eliminationist rhetoric directed at progressives. Looks like we have our answer.

Can you help us out?

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