"[E]ducated Joe the Plumber" Santelli spreads conspiracy theories with admitted homicide plotter G. Gordon Liddy

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & MATT GERTZ

On The G. Gordon Liddy Show, Rick Santelli agreed with Liddy's claim that when Robert Gibbs said during a press briefing, "I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives, or in what house he lives," Gibbs was making a "veiled threat." In fact, Gibbs was not threatening Santelli, but rather asserting that Santelli is out of touch with the concerns of "the American people."

As the blog Think Progress noted, on the February 23 broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show, CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli agreed with host G. Gordon Liddy's claim that when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said during a February 20 press briefing, "I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives, or in what house he lives," Gibbs was making a "veiled threat." Liddy later said of Gibbs' comment, "And that's a veiled threat, you know, 'We know where you live,' and so forth." Santelli replied, "It really -- it's quite scary." In fact, Gibbs was not threatening Santelli, but rather asserting that Santelli -- whose CNBC.com profile calls him a "veteran trader and financial executive" -- is out of touch with the concerns of "the American people."

Gibbs' comments came in response to Santelli's February 19 rant over what Santelli said was the government's "promoting bad behavior" and "subsidiz[ing] the losers' mortgages" through President Obama's proposed foreclosure reduction plan. Gibbs said:

Well, let's go through this, because I do think this is very important. And I've watched Mr. Santelli on cable the past 24 hours or so. I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives, but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgage, stay in their job, pay their bills, to send their kids to school, and to hope that they don't get sick or that somebody they care for gets sick and sends them into bankruptcy.

I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Liddy served four and a half years in prison in connection with his conviction for his role in the Watergate break-in and the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Liddy has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in "if necessary"; plotting to kill journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a "gangland figure" to kill Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap "leftist guerillas" at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis. (The murder, firebombing, and kidnapping plots were never carried out; the break-ins were.) During the 1990s, Liddy reportedly instructed his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents and also reportedly said he had named his shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton.

On the February 23 broadcast, Liddy and Santelli had the following exchange:

SANTELLI: [H]e [Gibbs] started that press conference saying, "I don't know where he lives, I don't know where his house is." This is the press secretary of the White House. Is that the kind of thing we want? Is that what it --

LIDDY: It's a veiled threat.

SANTELLI: It really is. You know what? This isn't about left or right. I wasn't for any of the bailouts under the last administration. But I don't realize or recall reading the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution where it says that once you vote for somebody in November, you put duct tape over your mouth and you can't say a word for the next four years. That's just not right.

LIDDY: No, it isn't. And that's a veiled threat, you know, "We know where you live," and so forth.

SANTELLI: It really -- it's quite scary.

In the past year, Liddy has repeatedly used his radio show to dispense conspiracy theories, misinformation, and outrageous commentary.

  • On his November 4, 2008, radio program, Liddy spoke to a caller who stated: "I'm ready to go to the concentration camp, that Obama's police force -- he will round me up. Because I -- I'm a white American." Liddy then said, "Well, listen to this," and aired an edited clip of Obama saying in a July 2, 2008, speech in Colorado Springs: "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." Liddy then stated: "Shades of the Gestapo. The Geheime Staatspolizei," to which the caller replied: "How's the cooking going to be? What will -- what will they serve, at the camp?" Liddy responded: "Well, I think, probably, there'll be ham hocks and turnip greens." In fact, Obama's comments about the necessity of a "civilian national security force" referred not to creating a national police force, but to expanding AmeriCorps and other programs.
  • On his November 13, 2008, radio program, Liddy repeatedly advised people not to register their firearms, saying: "The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms." Liddy added: "Because that's where they get the list of where to go first to confiscate. So, you don't ever register a firearm, anywhere."
  • On October 30, 2008, Liddy said of Obama's electoral prospects in Pennsylvania: "Pennsylvania has been described as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with Alabama in the middle. Obama is counting on the urban elites and the welfare class to win the state for him. But he's putting on a show for the rest of Pennsylvania."
  • On his October 7, 2008, radio show, Liddy discussed the detention of anti-Obama author Jerome Corsi in Kenya and aired a sketch in which he played audio of what he called "jungle telegraph drums." During the sketch, Liddy said: "We've used the satellite connection to Kenya, and we are now focusing in on the trial of Dr. Jerome Corsi. ... [H]e's being accused of impersonating a human being. My Zulu's not -- not as good as Obama's, but -- yeah, they're really upset with him. You can probably tell." Liddy then aired a clip apparently from the 1950 movie King Solomon's Mines, which featured characters speaking in Kinyarwanda (not Zulu), one of the official languages of Rwanda, and playing music on drums. Liddy continued: "This is it. This is the -- I think the entire Obama family is getting set to do something terrible to Dr. Corsi. I must say that Dr. Corsi appears to be bearing up with great courage. He's a man. Dr. Corsi will show 'em how to die. Yes, indeed." Liddy went on to say, "That is the -- says it -- the message is going out from Kenya to our brother in America, if I'm understanding the jungle telegraph drums correctly. 'O great brother, born in Kenya, smuggled into Hawaii.' Oh, my. This does not look good for Jerry Corsi. Yes, I think they're going to burn his book now. Matter of fact, they seem to have -- yeah, they've piled up a lot of -- a lot of his books, and there's a big stake in the middle of the pile." Liddy concluded: "All right, I guess it's all over. Jerry Corsi will not be coming back, but he will live on in our memory. Good man, good man. All right, we've lost the satellite feed. ... But remember, you heard it here first: the death of Jerry Corsi, under torture, by Obama's relatives in Kenya."
  • On July 14, 2008, Liddy said of the image of Obama and his wife, Michelle, on the July 21, 2008, cover of The New Yorker: "It's got Obama in his Muslim dress with a turban, and he's there with his wife. His wife has a 'mad at the world' afro, circa 1968, she -- she's got bandoliers and an assault weapon, and there in their fireplace is burning the American flag. The New Yorker finally got it right."
  • On July 9, 2008, while discussing a July 8, 2008, speech in which Obama discussed the importance of learning a second language, Liddy claimed that Obama "wants you to be sure your child can speak fluent illegal alien." He added: "Sadly, with every legal and cultural step we take to make our life more immediately convenient for non-English-speaking illegal aliens, we merely feed the beast." Liddy later stated: "You've just heard Barack Obama insisting that we all teach our children Spanish. Well, not mine, no way. 'Round here, let's see, I speak some French, some German as well as English. Franklin [Liddy's producer] speaks fluent French, fluent Italian, as well as English. But none of us here, so far as I know, speak illegal alien."
  • Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Liddy repeatedly claimed that Obama has not produced a valid birth certificate. In fact, in addition to posting a copy of Obama's birth certificate on the campaign website, the Obama campaign reportedly provided the original document to FactCheck.org, whose staff reported in an August 21, 2008, article that they "have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate" and concluded that it "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship."

From the February 23 broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show:

SANTELLI: You know, people went to war to fight over the freedoms we have. You know, when the press secretary said those things about me, Gordon, I can take it. But I'm a family man. I work hard. I have to put three kids through college. Think about this: Not only did he say I didn't know what I was talking about -- and everybody's entitled to their own opinion -- but he started that press conference saying, "I don't know where he lives, I don't know where his house is." This is the press secretary of the White House. Is that the kind of thing we want? Is that what it --

LIDDY: It's a veiled threat.

SANTELLI: It really is. You know what? This isn't about left or right. I wasn't for any of the bailouts under the last administration. But I don't realize or recall reading the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution where it says that once you vote for somebody in November, you put duct tape over your mouth and you can't say a word for the next four years. That's just not right.

LIDDY: No, it isn't. And that's a veiled threat, you know, "We know where you live," and so forth.

SANTELLI: It really -- it's quite scary. And I'll tell you what, Gordon. I consider myself a member in good standing of the press. And last I looked, there's freedom of the press, freedom of speech. Listen, listeners, I'm not asking you to agree with me. And really, this was never about me. This is about you, your money, how you deal with your government, how your kids will be living over the next 20 years, and when they start to go to work. But even more than that, does it matter what -- how many cars you have or how big your house is if you've worked hard and done it right? To think that is now a litmus test for whether you're a good American or not -- I just don't understand it.

LIDDY: Yeah, well. You know, you mentioned the freedom of the press that presumably we still have. But I would suggest to you that they are working on it. That's this talk of Fairness Doctrine and localism and all the rest of it. They're working on that "freedom of the press" thing.

SANTELLI: Right. And you know, Gordon, there's a lot of people hurting out there. And I've never -- of course, these are my opinions -- I've never thought that we should cut down on jobless claims. As a matter of fact, I think this money needs to be spent on jobs, if we're going to spend money we don't have. But it really has to bring jobs. And we should put more money, as we have, in programs that are good programs. If people get laid off, they need jobless insurance. You know, claims insurance. They need some continued health coverage. I understand that they need to be retrained. All of this is good. But when did a house become an entitlement? It's just not the way the country was founded, and I think we just need to go back to our original principles.

And it's not about charity either, Gordon. You know, people want to be charitable in this country, but the legislature shouldn't take that right away.

LIDDY: But Rick, but didn't a house become an entitlement when the government passed a law that said it was? That's the Community Reinvestment Act.

SANTELLI: You're so right. And see, there's another issue here. You know -- first of all, we've never -- there's no society that's been pure anything, whether it's socialist, capitalist. We don't have a pure capitalist society, just for the reasons you've dictated. You know, Congress over the years, Democrat, Republican, independent, have fueled Freddie and Fannie. They always had, supposedly, an intrinsic but not an explicit guarantee by the government.

Who are we kidding? The government made it clear to investors that, you know, we're going to stand behind them. And then they made them lower standards and do things and extend -- listen, we want everybody to have a house. But we want everybody to have a house they can afford and to do all the right things. And to have income verified, not have institutions and unlicensed mortgage brokers. And nothing against that industry -- I'm sure there's good ones. But you can't have this facade, and then when it all falls apart -- you look at the people that are cutting back and doing the right thing, going out less, trying to figure out how to put their kids through school, to retire -- and think we can pick up the tab. We're burdened as well.

LIDDY: Well, you know, Rick, what's happened is -- and I'm sure it was only by accident -- you have become the educated Joe the Plumber of the finance business.

SANTELLI: Well, truly, Gordon, it wasn't my intention. And anybody who's watched me over the years -- I tend to be impassioned. I can be impassioned when I see a movement in a market, when we get a release at 7:30 Central of statistics regarding employment or GDP. That's just the nature of who I am. I don't really want to be a spokesman, but what I really am very proud of is a) the response that I'm getting, which is overwhelmingly positive, and b) discourse, that is debate. That if the pressure and the heat I'm taking from the White House -- or the fact that my kids are nervous to go to school -- I can take that, OK? If people around their dinner tables really have a vested interest in all these zeros, if they're debating, that's good.

LIDDY: You are so right about debate. And, of course, the administration didn't want anybody to read that.

Network/Outlet
CNBC, Radio America
Person
G. Gordon Liddy, Rick Santelli
Show/Publication
The G. Gordon Liddy Show
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.