A Message To Sarah Palin from Media Matters CEO David Brock
BROCK: This morning you released a video condemning your critics for highlighting the danger posed by the Right's stoking of anti-government anger and violence. You attacked those who, like me, are concerned that irresponsible rhetoric could motivate troubled people to do the unthinkable. In your video you accused your critics of engaging in "blood libel" and inciting violence simply by speaking out against it.
I agree with you that the "monstrous act of criminality" committed this past weekend in Arizona stands on its own and that we as Americans are better than mindless finger-pointing in the tragedy's wake. I also endorse your purported desire to "peacefully engage in the great debates of our time."
Since early 2009, when the Right ratcheted up its attacks on President Obama and progressive policies, I have warned about the very real dangers of extreme anti-government rhetoric. Last October, I said on national television that the use of violent imagery creates a climate of fear, suspicion and paranoia that could lead to another Oklahoma City.
During the culture wars of the 1990s, right-wing extremists killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and terrorized hundreds of others in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park and at abortion clinics in the South.
On May 6, 1995, after the bombing, President Clinton said, "There is nothing patriotic about hating your government or pretending you can hate your government but love your country."
This fall I was especially concerned with three assassination attempts directly linked to your ally and fellow Fox News contributor Glenn Beck.
Soon after, Beck poisoned Nancy Pelosi in effigy on his set, a man threatened to firebomb Pelosi's San Francisco residence. The man's mother said her son got all his ideas from Fox News.
In March, Senator Patty Murray received a death threat after voting to reform our nation's health care system. The potential assassin said she had a target on her back and it would only take one bullet to accomplish his objective. Charles Wilson was arrested and convicted for repeatedly threatening to kill Murray. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Wilson's cousin submitted a memo to the court arguing for leniency.
The cousin wrote:
"What happened later with Charlie is something I think I can understand. He became basically housebound due to illness and his small world became even smaller. His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck...I found Glenn Beck about the same time that Charlie did and I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck's persuasive personality...While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out against a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy."
Finally, in a jailhouse interview this summer, California gunman Byron Williams said he was inspired by Beck -- whom he called his "schoolteacher on TV" -- to try to assassinate the staff of a liberal philanthropic foundation in San Francisco.
When I publicly called on you to use your leadership position to tone down the rhetoric of Beck, Tea Party leaders and other right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, I also noted your use of phrases on the campaign trail such as "Don't Retreat, Instead RELOAD."
In response to my request, you made a deliberate decision to align yourself with Beck -- you went on his radio show and said "I stand with you, Glenn" -- and took no responsibility for your own words and actions.
Congresswoman Giffords, who is clinging to life in an Arizona hospital as I speak, did have something to say about your actions.
GIFFORDS (video clip): For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list. But the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.
Gabby voted for the three cornerstones of the Obama Presidency: the economic stimulus program, the health care legislation, and caps on carbon emissions. She opposed the draconian Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants. Her opponent Jesse Kelly was a Tea Party extremist who said things like "we're going to show them what a mob looks like." Karl Rove and his allies ran hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV commercials to elect him and defeat Gabby.
In your video, you predictably blame the media for libeling you. My view is you and your right-wing conspirators have gotten off easy. Most in the press dismiss the import of your words as careless constructions or run-of-the mill political phrases, presuming you do not understand or mean what you say and do.
But I know what you do. We are just off a campaign cycle in which you and the Republican candidates you supported raised the prospect of armed revolt if Washington did not change its ways. Much of your message centered -- like the Tea Party moniker itself -- on imagery of armed revolution and existential clashes in which the freedom of our country is at stake. This is a lie.
You and Beck and Limbaugh pander to the margin of the margins, employing whatever words win you contributions or ratings, the consequences be damned.
Promoting anti-government extremism is your business. Without it you are nothing. And you know it.
Instead of posting videos in the dark of night, I challenge you to have the peaceful debate you say you want -- with me -- at the time and place and in the venue of your choosing.
Governor Palin, at this time of national mourning, you owe the American people a more honest explanation of your words and actions than the one you issued today.
Maybe then you could stop dwelling over your own PR troubles and join me in trying to prevent such a tragedy like this from ever happening again.