April 8, 2009

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CNN's Rick Sanchez and Media Matters' Eric Boehlert take Allan Gottlieb to task for his "Obama wants to take all your guns away" talking points. They also discuss the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric coming from Fox News led by Glenn Beck. Boehlert has more on that at Media Matters: Glenn Beck and the rise of Fox News' militia media. From the article:

We don't know if Poplawski tuned in to watch Jones' star turn for Fox News last month. But is there any doubt that Fox News is playing an increasingly erratic and dangerous game by embracing the type of paranoid insurrection rhetoric that people like Poplawski are now acting on? By stoking dark fears about the ominous ruins that await an Obama America, by ratcheting up irresponsible back-to-the-wall scenarios, Fox News has waded into a territory that no other news organization has ever dared to exploit.

What Fox News is now programming on a daily (unhinged) basis is unprecedented in the history of American television, especially in the form of Beck's program. Night after night, week after week, Beck rails against the president while denouncing him or his actions, alternately, as Marxist, socialist, or fascist. He felt entirely comfortable pondering whether the federal government, under the auspices of FEMA, was building concentration camps to round up Americans in order to institute totalitarian rule. (It wasn't until this week that Beck was finally able to "debunk" the FEMA conspiracy theory.) And that's when Beck wasn't gaming out bloody scenarios for the coming civil war against Obama-led tyranny. In just a few shorts months, Beck raced to the head of Fox News' militia media movement.

Full transcript below the fold.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Jim.

So those are the facts, again, emphasis on facts. But despite all that, consider this again. According to the FBI, there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks at potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year.

What happened from November to February? Again, that's 1.2 million. What's going on here?

Joining me now from Seattle, Washington, Allan Gottlieb. He's the founder of gun rights group, The Second Amendment Foundation and from New York, Eric Boehlert. He's a senior fellow at the media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Thanks to both of you gentlemen for being with us.

Alan, what makes you believe that President Obama is coming for your guns?

ALLAN GOTTLIEB, FOUNDER, SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION: Well, first of all, you have to look at his record. It started when he was state senator in Illinois and supported banning handguns. During campaign, he talked about how gun owners cling to their guns in a derogatory way.

SANCHEZ: So that's all you got is the record, the past? That's where you're going to start your argument in that...

GOTTLIEB: Obviously the historical records mean something. Also, as a U.S. senator he supported every gun control measure that was before him and in addition to that, you've got Eric Holder, who is the attorney general, who just the other day said I'm not going to let the second amendment stand in the way of any gun control that they want to put forth.

SANCHEZ: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. I'm going to read to you now the message from the attorney general. This is Eric Holder's confirmation hearing. I'm taking you back to...

GOTTLIEB: But I'm talking about yesterday.

SANCHEZ: I'm talking back to January 15th and I want you to hear this first. Are you ready? Here's what he told Senator Tom Coleman (ph). This administration has no intention of doing anything that would affect a state's regulation of firearms, who can carry a firearm. There is nothing that we have discussed, nothing that is in planning, nothing that I can imagine that we're going to be doing in that regard. Those are the man's words.

GOTTLIEB: OK. But if you'd notice, he referenced state regulation. He didn't say Federal laws. He didn't say new Federal laws. Yesterday he came out and said that the second amount wouldn't stand in their way from passing gun control measures and when the DC gun ban was being argued in the Supreme Court, he filed a brief on his own stating that the second amendment didn't give anybody the right to even own a gun.

SANCHEZ: So, you're convinced that this is going to happen.

Eric, help us out.

ERIC BOEHLERT, SENIOR FELLOW, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, I think people on the right and the single issue, passionate people are desperate to find some sort of opening so they can push this narrative.

Glenn Beck yesterday on his radio show said Barack Obama will take away your gun one way or another, he's going to take away your gun. This message has been on Fox News for weeks and months and it's not just the gun control issue. They are painting, as you mentioned, the doom's day scenario, almost mainstreaming this militia idea of tyranny, a totalitarian state in America.

SANCHEZ: Allan, what do you think about that? Because you know just about any independent person that looks at some of this coverage that we've been seeing, not just on Fox News but on other places as well, it seems alarmish. It almost seems like ...

GOTTLIEB: I think the alarming thing is that not that it's a doom's day scenario but there's no doubt that nobody can argue that the government isn't growing at an alarming rates, at record levels of spending, record levels...

SANCHEZ: It grew during the Bush administration. Where were your concerns then?

GOTTLIEB: I had concerns then, too, but they are not growing at the alarming rate that they are right now. Government relations, controls, everything on individuals in this country is significantly going in the direction of more and more government. Nobody can deny that. And, of course, that goes right into the argument of more and more gun control as well when government wants to regulate people.


BOEHLERT: Well, the saying that government is growing in size is a lot different than saying they are going to come knock on your door and take your guns, that democracy in America is on the wane and that we're going to turn into a socialist or Marxist or fascist, depending on what week it is with Glenn Beck.

That's quite a leap and again that's incredibly irresponsible. We have never seen a television news outfit sort of exploit these kind of fears before and they're doing it on a daily basis. And again they're basically mainstreaming this militia movement and this militia rhetoric.

GOTTLIEB: You're trying to label everything as militia as being evil, crazy people out there. There are 90 million gun owners in America and they're not members of militias. The bottom line is, the Pew Research Center just did a survey that shows Barack Obama is the most polarizing president we have had in four decades. The reason why people are buying guns is that he's polarizing them.

SANCHEZ: Allan, Allan, how could he not be polarizing when people are saying those messages that we have been talking about? If I was to get on the air and start saying horrible things about anyone day in and day out and scaring the bejesus (ph) out of you and telling you that the world is going to end as a result of this particular politician, whether he's on the right or on the left or in the middle, don't you think he would be polarizing?

GOTTLIEB: Well I think maybe the media did that to George Bush. One could make a very good argument what you're saying is true. Maybe it wasn't Fox News, maybe it was CNN and MSNBC.

SANCHEZ: We'll leave it at that. I suppose that's fair.

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