Journalist John Hamilton recently documented that the gunman who plotted the assassination of leaders at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU said he saw Fox News' Glenn Beck as "a schoolteacher" and that "it was the things [Beck] exposed that blew my mind." Indeed, the gunman, Byron Williams, was driven by belief in conspiracy theories that have been pushed by Beck. In response, the Tides Foundation has called for an advertiser boycott of Fox News.
Now, David Brock, founder and CEO of Media Matters for America and Michael B. Keegan, president of People for the American Way are urging Sarah Palin -- who has promoted, praised and appeared with Beck -- to condemn his dangerous and extremist rhetoric:
We all know the showman Glenn Beck and his Fox News bosses have no incentive to call a halt to this dangerous rhetoric and demonizing of enemies on their own. Recently addressing a NewsCorp shareholder who questioned whether Murdoch was comfortable with what Beck is doing on behalf of shareholders, Murdoch said that he does not agree with everything said on Fox, and called the channel "simply unstoppable." It appears, as suggested in various media reports in recent weeks about what a divisive figure Beck has become even within the company, that Beck can't be controlled either by Murdoch or Roger Ailes, who recruited Beck as part of his strategy to declare war on the Obama administration.
However, as one of Beck's biggest boosters, is a respected leader in the GOP and conservative movement, and Fox's own star contributor, we think Palin is well positioned to pull Beck back from his current course, to hold him accountable for his reckless words. Palin's credibility as a leader relies on more than just endorsing candidates and an uncanny knack for making headlines. It requires a moral compass she repeatedly says she possesses to make this country a better, safer place to live for all Americans.
This moment is an important test for Sarah Palin. Various conservative leaders, from William F. Buckley to Nixon, Reagan and Barry Goldwater at the end of his life all drew lines at crucial moments in history to separate their party and their movement from the extremists. Buckley drew a line and stood up for principle, calling the extremists of his day "idiotic" and "paranoid." Does Palin have the courage and foresight to exhibit the strength and wisdom exhibited by these American leaders and join a growing bipartisan group - including Rep. Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee who recently warned that "words have consequences" --in condemning Beck? Or will she choose to say nothing, and continue on her path of succumbing to the momentary partisan political temptations of stoking fear and suspicions and seeking political power against the national interest - even when we now have incontrovertible evidence that this path endangers the lives of innocent Americans?