REPORT: Emerging Culture of Paranoia

Obama Derangement Syndrome epidemic on conservative airwaves

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN, MARCIA KUNTZ & TOM ALLISON

Conservative media have directed their violent, doomsday, and anti-intellectual rhetoric at progressives in power, and specifically at President Obama, whom fake populists in conservative media depict as a threat to their audience's very way of life.

In recent months, the violent, doomsday, and anti-intellectual rhetoric that has long been a staple of conservative media has taken a notable turn in at least three significant ways: previously confined to the right-wing media fringe, the rhetoric is now a constant across the full spectrum of conservative media; it is louder and meaner, with conservative media figures appealing overtly to feelings of anger and paranoia in their audience; and it is focused, tied to the specific political aim of undermining the Obama administration and the Congress.

None other than David Horowitz notes "an interesting phenomenon on the Right, which is beginning to cause me concern": "the over-top-hysteria in response to the first months in office of our new president." Horowitz calls this "hysteria" "Obama Derangement Syndrome."

Indeed, the rise of anti-government speech -- and the explosion of anti-Obama rhetoric -- on right-wing radio, Fox News, and among conservatives in other media outlets tracks directly with the arrival of the new administration and its broad efforts to address the myriad and interlocking problems confronting the country. Rather than engaging in substantive policy analysis and critique, the Glenn Becks, Sean Hannitys, and Rush Limbaughs of radio and television insult their audience with simplistic attacks on Obama and his administration's initiatives.

Far from informing the public, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, and numerous others on Fox News and elsewhere launch attacks at Obama, progressives, and their policy proposals with accusations of any one or more "isms" that bear no relationship to reality or even to each other. They warn darkly of purported efforts by the Obama administration to cede U.S. sovereignty to a world order rather than engaging in meaningful discussions about the United States' role and image in the world. They scapegoat vulnerable groups, encouraging the perception that undocumented immigrants, the poor, and racial and ethnic minorities are to blame for economic problems in this country. During a time of numerous high-profile acts of gun violence, they claim with alarm that Obama intends to seize their guns. Fox News has adopted the Tax Day "tea parties" as its own, urging its audience to organize and attend what it characterizes as protests of Obama administration tax and economic policies; the network's promotions of these tea-party protests have been largely devoid of meaningful and truthful discussion of the actual merits and flaws in the administration's proposals for reform -- and of little substantive attention to the question of whether Fox News' audience would be better or worse off under those proposals the network is encouraging its audience to protest.

On his show, Beck has gone so far as to purport to imitate Obama pouring gasoline on the American public to light it on fire.

The demagoguery in the conservative media could have real consequences for the country and for efforts by law and policymakers to address serious problems. It is a disservice to the conservative media's audience and to the country, involving distortions of issues with falsehoods and with rhetoric and imagery that incite anger rather than encouraging citizens to engage meaningfully in political and legislative debate and process.

Media Matters for America is tracking this explosion of anti-government rhetoric in the conservative media and has published the following:

Violent, Revolutionary Rhetoric

Conservative media unleash violent, revolutionary rhetoric

Since Obama's inauguration, Media Matters has documented numerous instances where conservative media figures have called for a "revolution" or have invoked violent rhetoric while discussing the Obama administration or government in general. In addition to encouraging violence, such violent rhetoric has also included suggesting Obama's policies were doing violence to the American people and depicting Obama as a rapist, spousal abuser, or mobster.

Beck imitates Obama pouring gasoline on "average American"; says: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the Republic"

Newsbusters' Sheppard fans the flames

Levin: Government engaging in "economic child abuse" and is "enslaving" our children

After Washington banned some kinds of dishwasher detergent, RedState.com's Erickson pondered committing violence against state legislators

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"

Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires "going after the blood of our businesses," suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers"

Fox & Friends hosts former mobster to compare Dems to crime family

Newsbusters' Sheppard defends Limbaugh by pointing to patriotism of secessionists

World Net Daily columnist compares Obama to spousal abuser, while calling abused women "dunderhead[s]"

Warnings of incipient "isms"

Conservatives warn of social-fasc-commun-Nazi-McCarthy-Marxism

Media Matters has documented numerous examples of conservatives in the media warning of socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and Marxism, or using such language to describe Obama or other Democrats.

Beck: "I was wrong. Our government is not marching down the road towards communism or socialism... they're marching us to a brand of non-violent fascism... towards 1984"

Jonah Goldberg on auto bailout: "You can call it corporatism, you can call it socialism, you can call it fascism, what it is not is liberal democratic capitalism"

Beck: "The government is a heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state"

FNC's Napolitano says Wagoner's resignation is "an absolute power grab and it's the road to fascism", "this is Mussolini on the Potomac"

Fox News' Carlson asks, "Are we headed toward socialism?"

Discussing Obama "power grab," Gingrich says Goldberg's "frighteningly prescient" Liberal Fascism describes "how the left is thinking this year"

Hannity: Obama administration is pushing "the single biggest power grab and move towards socialism in the history of the country"

MacCallum on Rep. Bachmann's claim that Obama proposals are a "lurch toward socialism": "I think you're absolutely right about that"

Scarborough declares "Socialism is hard...you want to socialize entire sectors, and you can't even get people to work in the Treasury Department"

Limbaugh expands upon his Frank-McCarthy comparison and the "popular myth that McCarthy falsely accused people of things"

Echo chamber: Fox News' Smith joins Limbaugh, MacCallum in comparing Rep. Frank to McCarthy

Hannity declares today "Day number 52 of the socialism that you've been waiting for"

Rodgers claims Obama "clearly is more sympathetic with the long-term goals of world communism, and let's be blunt about it, Muslim terrorists, than with any legitimate American goals"

Fox News' Asman warns "[w]e ignore" Czech President Klaus' "advice" that "the road to socialism is the road to serfdom" at "our own peril"

False advertising: Beck show promo denounced calling Dems communists, but he often does that on his show

Scarborough on America "moving closer toward European-style socialism:" "That's not a right-wing claim it's the truth"

Fox News VP and Washington Managing Editor Sammon: Obama has an "agenda towards socialism"

Buchanan offers mixed metaphors on socialism in response to Obama proposals, claims, "for conservatives, this is pitchfork time"

On Beck, Byrnes smeared CO solar energy company as "socialist"

Fox & Friends asks: "Are we headed towards Socialism?"

Special Report takes a "fair and balanced look" at whether the recovery plan is "socialism"

Wash. Times invokes Nazism, publishes Hitler photo while criticizing health-care provisions in stimulus

On CNN, Rollins and Castellanos compare recovery plan to Soviet and Cuban communism, socialism

Beck on O'Reilly Factor: "We are really truly stepping beyond socialism and starting to look at fascism"; compares proposals to Nazi Germany

Numerous media figures equate Pelosi's defense of family planning provision in recovery package to China's "one-child policy," eugenics, Nazism

KFSO's Sussman compares Pelosi's contraception comments to Nazism, claims we're on our way to a "one child policy in this country"

Days after decrying those who say Democrats are "trying to turn us into communist Russia," Beck claimed Obama "has Marxist tendencies"

Promoting upcoming Fox show, Beck -- who has called Obama "a Marxist" and criticized "Comrade Clinton" -- decries communist name-calling

Dobbs: America is "moving toward a combination of corporate power and political power" that is "disturbingly similar to what we witnessed in Italy in the 1930s"

Hannity claimed the "federal government...is destroying our economic system as we currently know it"

Hannity on auto bailout: "The administration is on a mission to hijack capitalism in favor of collectivism... The Bolsheviks have already arrived"

Napolitano: "[T]he Obama administration is trashing the Constitution in order to micromanage the economy, Soviet-style"

New World Order

Black helicopter alert! Conservative media suggest Obama supporting one-world government

Since Obama's inauguration, Media Matters has documented many examples where conservative media figures have asserted or suggested that U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government.

Media figures advance false claim that Obama ceded economic sovereignty at G-20 summit

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"

Fox's Charles Payne: "[O]ne day, I think that we are heading toward a one-world sort of government. I think Obama probably likes that"

Obama will "take away your gun"

Media conservatives fearmongering: Obama will "take away your gun"

Since President Obama's election, several conservative media figures have warned their audiences that Obama is planning to, according to Beck, "slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun" or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely.

Boehlert: Glenn Beck and the rise of Fox News' militia media

After criticizing people alleging that Poplawski "killed three cops because he thought Obama was coming to take his guns," Mike Gallagher proposes "a national movement to register as many people as we can ... to become gun owners"

Liddy advises listeners: "[N]o matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms"

Tea Parties

"Fair and balanced" Fox News aggressively promotes "tea party" protests

Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is "fair and balanced" and its invitation to viewers to "say 'no' to biased media," Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with "tea party" protests across the country, which the channel has often described as primarily a response to Obama's fiscal policies. Media Matters has compiled an analysis of Fox News' promotion of these events.

Beck says you can "celebrate with Fox News" at any of four "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties"

Scapegoating of vulnerable groups

Conservative media consistently scapegoat undocumented immigrants, ACORN

In discussions of major news stories, conservatives in the media have repeatedly turned to two favorite bogeymen -- undocumented immigrants and ACORN -- in place of substantive analysis, even when those groups have little or nothing to do with the issue.

Limbaugh forwards myths that Community Reinvestment Act, Rep. Frank responsible for mortgage crisis

Fox News' Baier advanced conservative attacks on CRA, repeated falsehood about Rep. Frank

Myths and falsehoods about the purported link between affordable housing initiatives and the financial crisis

Politico's Libit repeated Gingrich's false claim days after Politico reported such claims were inaccurate

Media figures falsely accuse Democrats of attempting to direct millions of dollars to ACORN

WSJ's Fund falsely claimed that ACORN "almost got a slush fund in the housing bailout bill"

WSJ editorial leaves out relevant information in smear of ACORN

On Dobbs, radio host claimed HUD said "about 5 million illegal alien home mortgage loans ... have gone bad," but HUD reportedly says stat is bogus

Conservative radio hosts claimed HUD said 5 million illegal immigrants were given subprime mortgages, despite HUD's reported denials

Faced with economic turmoil, media conservatives turn to class warfare

CNN reports leave out relevant facts on ACORN voter registration allegations

Fox News' Kelly mocked ACORN for accurate statement about Florida registration law

Dick Morris baselessly accused ACORN of "committing voter fraud"

Myths and falsehoods surrounding the economic recovery plan

The Hill, UPI uncritically reported false GOP claim that Dems steered recovery money to ACORN

SF Chronicle reported false claim that $4.19 billion of recovery plan "would go to" ACORN

Parroting GOP, Dittohead Limbaugh dutifully launches false ACORN attack

Limbaugh says ACORN "got three and a half billion dollars from the stimulus bill"

Fox Business Network joins with GOP senators to further spread false ACORN attack

Fox & Friends' Doocy repeated false claim that stimulus package includes $4 billion for ACORN

Wash. Times echoes recovery bill falsehoods on undocumented immigrants, ACORN

Parroting GOP, CNN's Dobbs baselessly claimed recovery bill provides $4 billion in funding for "so-called advocacy groups such as ACORN"

Dobbs again peddles baseless GOP claim that recovery bill has $4 billion for "groups such as ACORN"

Fox News' Van Susteren ignored Graham's economic recovery falsehoods

Rove latest to advance false claim that recovery bill "funnel[s]" money to ACORN

Morris uses boogeyman of nonexistent ACORN funds to solicit funds for GOP group

Bill Cunningham claims stimulus "give[s] ACORN up to $4.2 trillion" and contains "$350 million to hand out condoms and birth control pills so the poor can fornicate like rabbits"

Cameron uncritically repeats GOP talking point that final version of stimulus bill includes funds that will go to ACORN

Confirmed: AP has received GOP talking points

For four hours after AP correction, Drudge flogged false claim about undocumented immigrants

Limbaugh, Hannity, and the GOP: an iron triangle of stimulus misinformation

AP's retracted stimulus bill falsehood finds a new home at Fox

Will Dobbs retract his stimulus bill falsehood?

Politico advances GOP's communist smear against MN secretary of state

Pat Robertson says "it's time the Republicans gave the Democrats a dose of their own medicine," states they "ought to filibuster every single one" of Obama's judicial nominees

Fox News' Bream uncritically repeats conservative claim Obama judicial nominee "has ties" to ACORN

At Fox News, guilty until proven innocent

Fox's Megyn Kelly asks ACORN spokesman: "You're going to send child rapists out to conduct the census?"

CNN's Sylvester misled on House SCHIP bill's effect on budget and its citizenship verification process

Dobbs again promoted GOP claims that SCHIP could benefit undocumented immigrants

AP, CNN report that Obama represented ACORN, but not that DOJ was also a plaintiff in the lawsuit

Doom and Gloom

Outbreak: Limbaugh spreads Obama Derangement Syndrome

Since Obama's inauguration, Limbaugh has made numerous baseless and ominous claims warning of what will happen if the United States adopts either Obama's policies or those pushed by other progressives, often while invoking fears of rising socialism, communism, and tyranny.

Limbaugh "concerned" that under Obama, "our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won't be great, that we're just going to become average"

Limbaugh: "Thank you President Obama. Thank you CNN. You are doing the job that everybody expects of you, taking every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness and trying to rip it to shreds"

Limbaugh: "I want the stimulus package to fail," "I want everything he's doing to fail."

Limbaugh on "the economic war": "If Obama is our general, this war is lost"

Limbaugh says Obama wants I-bankers "to be hated," asks, "You don't think this guy has a bug up his dress ... chip on his shoulder about wealthy people?"

Limbaugh on Obama administration: "They are focused on the destruction of the private sector. This is an all-out assault on capitalism"

Limbaugh on people who work on Wall Street: "People want families like yours to suffer. They want you to understand how hard life is for them and that's why they support Obama"

Limbaugh: Obama "is a gutless wonder; he is seeking as much chaos and depression among average Americans as he can get"

Limbaugh: Geithner testified about "how he intends to destroy our capitalist system with Barney Frank banging the gavel in support"

Limbaugh: "If President Obama succeeds with this, our nation fails"

Limbaugh: "Based on what we've seen with General Motors and the banks, if he fails, America is saved. Barack Obama's policies and their failure is the only hope we've got to maintain the America of our founding."

Limbaugh quotes Ayn Rand - "The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters and intends to be the master" - and says, "That is President Obama."

Limbaugh on difference between Dems and GOP: Dems hate life, liberty, happiness

Limbaugh on calls for political "compromise" and "bipartisanship": "Should Jesus have made a deal with Satan?"

Limbaugh likens Democrats to murderers, rapists, and "this Muslim guy" that "offed his wife's head"

Limbaugh on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA): "One day Tony Soprano will walk in with a lead pipe and he will start beating people upside the head to vote to unionize"

Limbaugh is "sure" threats to AIG execs were made by "deranged leftists from the Democrat blogs" because "they're the ones that hate capitalists"

Limbaugh expands upon his Frank-McCarthy comparison and the "popular myth that McCarthy falsely accused people of things"

Returning to "Tony Soprano ... with his lead pipe" analogy to blast EFCA, Limbaugh declares: "Nobody wants their kneecaps busted. I'm speaking figuratively, of course"

Limbaugh: Rep. Frank and Sen. Dodd are "toxic congressmen," "poison members of our government"

Limbaugh on the Pay for Performance Act of 2009: "When the leftists start talking about fairness, they are the slave masters"

Limbaugh continues mob references in discussion of EFCA: "Tony Soprano standing in your business with a baseball bat or a lead pipe"

Limbaugh's website claims of Obama: "His education plan is Maoist ... and he is otherwise a Bolshevik. ... [H]e would be a Stalinist if he thought he could get away with it"

Limbaugh on Cuomo's letter asking for names of AIG bonus recipients, negotiators: "Is [Cuomo] working out of the Reichstag or what?"

Discussing upcoming "Earth hour," Limbaugh calls Obama "an extremist tyrannical president"

Limbaugh: "Maybe we have descended into a nation that sort of loves the concept of soft tyranny."

Limbaugh: "We are Venezuela in the early years."

Pandemic: Limbaugh's Obama Derangement Syndrome spreads through conservative media

Numerous conservative media figures have followed Limbaugh's lead in making increasingly dire predictions about the consequences that policies sought by Obama and other progressives might have for the country.

Hannity: "Robert Gates ought to resign, and resign now" because he "wants to preside over the single dumbest defense scale-down in American history"

Hannity suggests America is "no longer the land of the free and the land of opportunity, but the land of the nanny state"

Hannity falsely claimed Obama administration "taking steps to cut defense spending"

Hannity claimed the "federal government...is destroying our economic system as we currently know it"

Hannity on auto bailout: "The administration is on a mission to hijack capitalism in favor of collectivism... The Bolsheviks have already arrived"

Hannity promo asks if Obama budget is "a way for the government to completely control our lives"

Hannity fear-mongering: "If the government takes too much money ... just like if it was a terror attack against America, Americans will get hurt."

Gingrich says Democratic proposals "absolutely moves you towards a political dictatorship"

Hannity: "It sounds to me like in many ways, even linguistically, we have literally, you know, surrendered" to terrorists

Beck denies responsibility for Pittsburgh shooting, adds that Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun"

Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires "going after the blood of our businesses," suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers"

Beck claims Americorps bill "basically indoctrinates your child into community service through the federal government"

Beck: "I read an article ... that said 'the Manchurian Candidate couldn't destroy us faster than Barack Obama' "

Tax deduction change latest Obama proposal Beck claims "involves enslaving people"

Morris again falsely claimed Obama "gave away our economic sovereignty to Europe" by agreeing to international financial regulation

Media figures advance false claim that Obama ceded economic sovereignty at G-20 summit

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"

Savage: "Obama has a plan to force children into a paramilitary domestic army"

Savage declares emerging "dictator[]" Obama to be "out of control" and says "I think it is time to start talking about impeachment"

Gaffney: "[H]ow Barack Obama spells respect is S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N"

Gaffney in Wash. Times: "[I]t increasingly appears" Obama "will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood"

O'Reilly asks if Obama is "selling out America" in favor of a "global justice jihad"

Dobbs: America is "moving toward a combination of corporate power and political power" that is "disturbingly similar to what we witnessed in Italy in the 1930s"

Fox News' Varney: Obama administration will "coerce or force us all into buying the small cars that it insists Detroit puts out"

Napolitano: "[T]he Obama administration is trashing the Constitution in order to micromanage the economy, Soviet-style"

Scarborough on America "moving closer toward European-style socialism:" "That's not a right-wing claim it's the truth"

On Dobbs, WOR's Malzberg claims Obama "does not love this country" and "is trying to do what Hugo Chavez has done to Venezuela"

Limbaugh guest host Steyn declared U.S. is "hanging upside down in the bondage dungeon being flogged and humiliated by the rest of the planet"

Levin: Government engaging in "economic child abuse" and is "enslaving" our children

Radio host Lee Rodgers on Obama's relationship with the Islamic world: "I think the guy's out to sell us out"

Larson on Obama: "A lot of us want him to fail in most of what he's asking the country to do because we view it as an existential threat."

Burnett claims bailout recipient bonus tax "to some echo[es] the Russian and French Revolutions," asks: "[I]s America starting to look like Venezuela?"

On Today, Cramer attacked Obama's "radical agenda" and claimed "this is the most, greatest wealth destructive I've seen by a President"

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