Following the arrest of Gregory Giusti for allegedly threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi's life over health care reform, Giusti's mother stated that Fox News was a factor in her son's alleged actions. In the wake of this incident, Media Matters for America takes a look back at Fox News' recent history of violent rhetoric and the apocalyptic language the network's employees used to describe the then-impending passage of health care reform.
Mother of man accused of threatening Pelosi blames Fox News
From an April 7 broadcast by ABC's San Francisco affiliate, KGO-TV:
ELEANOR GIUSTI: Greg has -- frequently gets in with a group of people that have really radical ideas and that are not consistent with myself or the rest of the family and -- which gets him into problems. And apparently I would say this must be another one that somehow he's gotten onto either by -- I'd say Fox News or all of those that are really radical, and he -- that's where he comes from.
Gregory Giusti allegedly "made dozens of calls" to Pelosi threatening her not to support health care reform. On April 7, Los Angeles Times reported that following Gregory Giusti's arrest: "Several federal officials say the man made dozens of calls to Pelosi's homes in California and Washington, D.C., and to her husband's business office. The suspect allegedly recited her home address and said that if she wanted to see it again, she should not support the healthcare overhaul bill that was recently signed."
Fox News figures tell viewers to "grab a torch" and use other violent rhetoric
Beck talks about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. Glenn Beck stated:
BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.
I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.
By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. [Glenn Beck 8/6/09]
Palin: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Fox News contributor Sarah Palin posted a list of House Democrats who voted for health care reform with crosshairs aimed at their locations. In a March 23 tweet about her map, Palin wrote: " 'Don't Retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!' " Palin's list was criticized by conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who introduced and endorsed Palin during the 2008 campaign, as helping foster a climate of violent rhetoric. Hasselbeck added that the list is "purely despicable" and "insane."
Huckabee: Members of Congress "should be tarred and feathered as the original tea partiers would have done." As RightWingWatch.org noted, Fox News host Mike Huckabee said of members of Congress in January:
HUCKABEE: Every member of Congress knows in his gut what's in the people's interest and what's in K Street's interest. If you think your real boss is some smug guy in a corner office with his Gucci loafers up on a mahogany deck and not the folks back home, those folks who voted for you, who gave you 25 or 50 hard-earned bucks, who put up yard signs and made calls for you, you deserve to lose. Shame on you, you shouldn't just be fired, you should be tarred and feathered as the original tea partiers would have done. That's my view and I welcome yours.
Morris: "Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." During a long conspiracy theory about a "super-national authority" that will oversee U.S. financial institutions, Fox News contributor Dick Morris asserted that because President Obama's policies are "internationalist ... [t]hose crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." [Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/09]
Stossel said he has "Barney Frank in effigy" hanging above his sofa. In a February 3 interview with New York magazine, when Fox Business host John Stossel was asked, "What's hanging above your sofa?" he responded: "Barney Frank in effigy." [New York, 2/3/10]
Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires, suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said, "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." [Glenn Beck, 3/30/09]
Beck: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." Telling his listeners that they "are going to learn so much on Friday," Beck compared himself to "Israeli Nazi hunters" and commented, "I'm going to find these big progressives and, to the day I die, I'm going to be a progressive hunter." He added:
BECK: I'm going to find these people that have done this to our -- you know, to our country, and expose them. I don't care where -- I don't care if they're in nursing homes. I'm going to expose what they have done and make sure that the people understand, because our Constitution, our republic -- if it survives -- it will only survive because the people are waking up and through the grace of God, because we are that close to losing our republic. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 1/20/10]
Beck: "Grab a torch." Asserting that politicians are addicted to spending, Beck stated: "When do we ever run those who are bankrupting our country and literally stealing our children's future out of town? Grab a torch." [Glenn Beck, 1/6/10]
Beck speaks for one-third of the nation: "[Y]ou will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun" and "before I acquiesce and be silent." During the July 30, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck warned "ACORN, GE, Obama, SEIU" that "you are awakening a sleeping giant, and I have nothing to do with it" and that "America is waking up. You know the American Revolution took place with 12 percent of the population? Twelve. Are you telling me there is not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent."
Beck: "There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America." On his radio show, Beck stated that "there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly." Beck further claimed: "At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time." He also said, "And they're gonna say, 'we did it democratically,' and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/31/09]
Beck pours gasoline on "average American," asks, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" On his Fox News program, Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic." [Glenn Beck, 4/9/09]
Fox News figures: Passage of health care reform is "the end of America as you know it."
Beck: "This is the end of prosperity in America forever ... the end of America as you know it." Telling his audience, "You must not allow this to pass," Beck stated in November 2009 that "they're going to get passed that 60-vote barrier. And they'll get there by people like [Sen.] Joe Lieberman, who's a reasonable guy and has good intent. You'll get passed it by people like that, who say, you know what? Look, we got to be reasonable; we have to have a debate. And then Harry Reid will go for the 51 count and he'll pass this thing. And it will be a nail in the coffin of America." Beck added: "You must -- must get on the phone in your districts. You must wake everybody up you know. This is the end of prosperity in America forever if this bill passes. This is the end of America as you know it." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 11/19/09]
Beck: President Obama will be able to "control every aspect of your life." Beck "warn[ed]" that if the bill "passes, the country is in real dire trouble." He went on to say: "The pieces that the president needs to control every aspect of your life, to fundamentally transform America, will be finished. He'll have them all," adding: "If health care does not pass, warning, those on the left are going to become violent." [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/5/10]
Beck: "[T]he fundamental transformation of America is complete." Beck also said: "Not only are they doing health care, but they are doing education in this same bill. Education and health care." He added: "It is overwhelming the system. And I'm telling you, if this bill passes -- health care and education all in one bill -- if this passes, the fundamental transformation of America is complete. There's no going back from this point. It must not pass." [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/15/10]
Beck: "If you can be deemed someone who maybe shouldn't have a baby, they can have their people come in." Beck said on his Fox News show: "You know and I know in this 2,300-page bill that includes education, the control that this government has is endless. They will -- if this passes, they will control every aspect of your life." Beck further said: "They will be able to -- there is places in here that if you can be deemed someone who maybe shouldn't have a baby, they can have their people come in. The government is in our homes on this." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 3/16/10]
Beck: We lose "the Democratic Party to the socialists." On his March 19 Fox News program, Beck stated: "If this passes, I think it makes the election of people like Lindsey Graham, who are the compromise with big government, darn near impossible, because you can't tone this one down. You've got to pull this back by strong constitutionalists. Don't we -- if this passes, don't we lose, really, the Democratic Party to the socialists? And the Republican Party either has to be, you know, real federalists, real people that understand controlled power, or you are going to have a third party?" [Glenn Beck, 3/19/10]
Morris said he was "100 percent positive" Obama will create panels to "curb medical care to the elderly." On the March 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Dick Morris said what Obama "has in mind is curbing medical care to the elderly," and that he's "going to set up a panel" to determine treatment. Morris said he's "100 percent positive" this will happen. [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 03/03/10]
Moore: "This is a dark day for America if we pass this bill." Discussing the market reaction to passing the health bill, The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore said on Fox News: "I think personally -- I think that the markets have always thought for the last year and a half that eventually this day would come. And I think, by the way, this is a dark day for America if we pass this bill." [America's News HQ, 3/21/10]
Fox News: Doctors will shut down their practices. Several Fox News figures, including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Morris, O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Steve Doocy highlighted an Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll which found that "[t]wo of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted." However, according to statistician Nate Silver, the poll was "simply not credible," and Fox News itself acknowledged that the poll was "not scientific."
Cal Thomas claimed health reform "is an outrage" and "a sham"; "[e]uthanasia is coming." On Fox News' America's News HQ, Thomas said the health bill is "a triumph of the humanistic, atheistic philosophy. Instead of being endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, those rights are going to be taken away by bureaucrats who will decide whether you get a hip replacement or a heart bypass, based on your age and your ability to pay more taxes." He continued:
It is an outrage. It is a sham. Euthanasia is coming. You can call them death panels. That's exactly what they're going to be. We are going to really be sorry for this, but, unfortunately, when the guy in the white robe comes to give us our little pill, as President Obama told ABC, the 100-year-old woman who wants to live must get in order to make it equal for everybody and not to spend so much, it will be too late. [America's News HQ, 11/21/09]
Hannity: "If we get nationalized health care, it's over; this is socialism." In November 2009, Hannity said, "When you look at the extreme czars, and you look at Barack Obama, and you look at the Barack Obama that portrayed himself one year ago as a very different candidate, you know, why -- I feel like I have been vindicated. I was excoriated for saying he is far more radical than people know. You know, what do you see about him? Do you think he is far -- do you think he's a socialist? Do you think he's -- because I think this is -- if we get nationalized health care, it's over. This is socialism, and that's a kind word." [Fox News' Hannity, 11/2/09]