Fox News personalities continued to advance the claim that DHS is targeting conservatives and others with the release of its report on right-wing extremism, while ignoring the Bush administration's role and a similar report on left-wing extremism.
Loading the player ...
During the April 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, while discussing an intelligence assessment from the Department of Homeland Security, titled, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters stated, "I do believe that there are people within the Obama administration, on that bizarre Hollywood-Harvard access -- axis -- who really have a disdainful view of our troops." Referring to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Peters said: "[F]or her, every soldier is a potential [Timothy] McVeigh." But neither host Bill O'Reilly nor Peters note that the DHS assessment cited a 2008 FBI report -- authored during the Bush administration -- as evidence that "some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups." In an April 15 article, Politico's Jen DiMascio reported that the FBI report had "similar findings" but "generated little controversy or coverage."
Referring to the DHS report on the Factor, O'Reilly asserted: "This is the bottom line on this: The federal government has changed from a conservative-oriented federal government under the Bush administration to a liberal-oriented federal government under Obama." He later added: "So, of course, these people, instead of saying, you know, we might have some Muslim problems, maybe there's a little cell somewhere talking to Pakistan and getting orders. No, it's the Glenn Beck guys, but we don't really have any evidence. But this is what's on their mind because that's the way they think." Similarly, during the April 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report, White House correspondent Wendell Goler uncritically quoted Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-TX) assertion that "it looks like, to me, they're engaging in some kind of political profiling when it comes to conservatives, and that's what really disturbs me as much as anything else."
However, neither O'Reilly nor Goler noted that, as national correspondent Catherine Herridge reported on April 15 on Fox News' Studio B, DHS recently issued "a bulletin that looks at the left-wing groups as well." Herridge also noted that the DHS report "does talk specifically about returning veterans as being sort of attractive targets for these groups, because they've got the weapons training and they may feel somewhat disenfranchised when they return for a variety of returns." Referring to the reports on left-wing and right-wing extremists, she later added: "I would point out that both of these assessments ... were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he had left office." Interviewing former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker, Studio B host Shepard Smith said of the reaction to the report: "[I]t sounds like just regular, old, everyday people who are conservative just got, you know, got their dander up over something that is not applied to that." Baker replied, "Yeah, it really is. It's a little bit -- unfortunately, it's a little bit what the Republicans on the conservative side have been doing."
Despite Herridge's report, several Fox News hosts and contributors, in addition to O'Reilly, Peters, and Goler, have attacked the report without noting the Bush administration's role or the DHS report on left-wing extremism.
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: You don't really believe, Colonel, that she wanted to insult American veterans, do you?
PETERS: Not openly. I think what's really troubling, Bill, is that -- I think this report is a snake that slipped out of the cage. I do believe that there are people within the Obama administration, on that bizarre Hollywood-Harvard access -- axis -- who really have a disdainful view of our troops. I mean, they don't know any of our troops, and so, they really do see them as -- in the Hollywood image, you know, the drunken, drug addict, violent vet waiting to explode. And there is some animosity, whether it's Freudian or whatever.
But you know, with Napolitano, I couldn't figure out why she keeps bringing up Timothy McVeigh, Timothy McVeigh, all the time, as the only example -- and I know she worked on that McVeigh case, the Murrah Building bombing. And then, this morning, when I was working out, the penny dropped: Timothy McVeigh is the only soldier Janet Napolitano ever really got to know. And so, for her, every soldier is a potential McVeigh.
And, look, I don't think they thought that this was going to make a big ruckus, 'cause it wasn't supposed to get out, but, clearly, some people in law enforcement put it online and thought it should get out. And it's -- I was furious, Bill. And now, I'm just sad.
O'REILLY: No, I -- listen, I understand the anger, because if you read the memo, it is unnecessary -- that's the word. This memo is unnecessary.
O'REILLY: The memo itself says, in the first sentence, "We don't have any facts to back this up."
O'REILLY: "This is just some theory we were kicking around in a bar someplace." I didn't -- they don't have "in a bar" but it's -- that's where it could have been.
O'REILLY: This is the bottom line on this: The federal government has changed from a conservative-oriented federal government --
GLENN BECK (Fox News host): Yeah.
O'REILLY: -- under the Bush administration --
O'REILLY: -- to a liberal-oriented federal government under Obama.
O'REILLY: That is beyond dispute. When a woman like Rosa Brooks -- did you see our reporting on this woman, Rosa Brooks? She's a crazy far left LA Times person, now inside the Pentagon, appointed to advise an undersecretary of defense. When that happens, you know the sea change is enormous.
So, of course, these people, instead of saying, you know, we might have some Muslim problems, maybe there's a little cell somewhere talking to Pakistan and getting orders. No, it's the Glenn Beck guys, but we don't really have any evidence. But this is what's on their mind --
O'REILLY: -- because that's the way they think.
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
GOLER: The report contained a warning to local law enforcement agencies that returning vets with weapons skills and difficulty reintegrating into their communities, quote, "could lead to the potential emergence of terrorists groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith objects.
SMITH [video clip]: The administration is way, way off base. And it looks like, to me, they're engaging in some kind of political profiling when it comes to conservatives, and that's what really disturbs me as much as anything else.
GOLER: The criticism crossed the political aisle. Mississippi Democrat Benny Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement, quote, "This report appears to have blurred the line between violent belief, which is constitutionally protected, and violent action, which is not."