Byron Williams

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  • Beck goes ballistic over Soros donation to Media Matters

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Tonight, Glenn Beck responded to news that philanthropist George Soros had made his first donation to Media Matters by once again vilifying Soros, the Tides Foundation, and a host of progressive organizations, while portraying Beck as the target of a Soros-ordered hit.

    Launching into a positively unhinged diatribe against what he called "shadowy" and "spooky" organizations, Beck likened a Media Matters press release announcing Soros' $1 million contribution to a "wanted dead or alive poster" and called it a "million dollar bounty." Beck also said, "Mr. Soros, let me just tell you something. If I happen to fall -- what was that movie where the guy fell out of the window at the end? ... If anything happens to me, what is it the people at the Tides Foundation are saying right now? Oh, yeah. That's right. I love this phrase. Blood will be on your hands, sir. One million dollar bounty."

    Beck has a history of suggesting that Soros would have him killed. On June 21, while detailing his discredited conspiracy theory that the Obama administration's drilling moratorium is part of a plot to enrich Soros through increased oil drilling in Brazil , Beck said, "Gasoline Brazil. Now why am I telling you about this? Have you heard of another word? Soros. George Soros.I do have a bulletproof car, George. I just want you to know."

    Last week, Media Matters reported on how conspiracy theories promoted by Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Beck has since been roundly condemned for his violent rhetoric.

    Beck has shown no signs of backing down in his efforts to villify Tides. After spending an entire hour demonizing the group last week, Beck yesterday launched into another attack by taunting, "Did you guys think I wouldn't talk about it anymore?"

    In a letter released last week, Tides CEO Drummond Pike called on advertisers to stop supporting Fox News, noting that "businesses that pay to broadcast commercials on Fox News are subsidizing Glenn Beck's television show by continuing to pump money into the network," adding, "It has become clear that the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop supporting Fox News." Media Matters and People for the American Way have joined in calling on major advertisers to stop supporting the network.

    UPDATE: Watch Beck's five-part response here.

  • Beck resumes villification of Tides Foundation with a taunt: "Did you guys think I wouldn't talk about it anymore?"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Before launching into his latest attack on the Tides Foundation, Glenn Beck taunted, "Uh-oh. Did you guys think I wouldn't talk about it anymore? Uh-oh. Look who's wrong."

    Last week, Media Matters reported on how conspiracy theories promoted by Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Beck has since been roundly condemned for his violent rhetoric.

    But Beck has shown no signs of backing down in his efforts to villify the group. Friday, he devoted an hour of his show to demonizing Tides. Tonight, he repeatedly attacked Tides, its CEO, and founder Drummond Pike, and the "dirtbag[s]" connected to Tides. Tides, Beck said, is responsible for "anti-capitalist propaganda movies" to "indoctrinate people in their schools" and in their churches.

    Beck later launched into an all-out tirade against groups organizing advertiser boycotts of his show, accusing them of using threats, intimidation, and harassment. These boycotts, Beck said, were an effort to "put me in my place." Tapping the camera, Beck said that "they've been doing this now for two years, and as far as I know -- yeah, it's still working -- we're on the air. Oh, man, you guys are good."

    Since Beck called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people," at least 100 sponsors have dropped their ads from Beck's show. A September 29 New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Beck reported that "as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck's show."

    Asked about those reports during a recent shareholder meeting, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch issued a flat denial. "No one," Murdoch said, "has taken any money off the channel."

    In a letter released last week, Tides CEO Drummond Pike called on advertisers to stop supporting Fox News, noting that "businesses that pay to broadcast commercials on Fox News are subsidizing Glenn Beck's television show by continuing to pump money into the network," adding, "It has become clear that the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop supporting Fox News." Today, Media Matters and People for the American Way joined in calling on major advertisers to stop supporting the network.

  • Christian Science Monitor: "Did Glenn Beck's rhetoric inspire violence?"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    An October 16 Christian Science Monitor article headlined, "Did Glenn Beck's rhetoric inspire violence?" reported:

    Glenn Beck's attacks on the Tides Foundation are being linked to a heavily-armed man's attempt to assassinate the progressive organization's employees. Rhetoric has consequences, critics say.

    [...]

    Tides itself is calling on advertisers to drop their business with Fox News because of what it charges has been "hate speech leading to violence."

    "While we may agree to disagree about the role our citizens and our government should play in promoting social justice and the common good, there should be no disagreement about what constitutes integrity and professionalism and responsibility in discourse - even when allowing for and encouraging contending diverse opinions intelligently argued," Tides founder and CEO Drummond Pike wrote. "This is not a partisan issue. It's an American issue. No one, left, right or center, wants to see another Oklahoma City."

    To some observers, the episode involving Glenn Beck and alleged attacker Byron Wilson is reminiscent of the 1991 film "The Fisher King."

    "What was prescient about the film is that the main character, Jack Lucas, played by Jeff Bridges, is an arrogant, self-serving, egocentric shock jock talk radio host who enjoys baiting his callers and indulging in personal ideological comments that often have no basis in fact," writes Mark Axelrod, professor of comparative literature at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., on Huffington Post. "The upshot of all of that 'free speech' is that an off-handed, on air comment prompts one of his regular callers to commit multiple murders at a popular Manhattan bar."

    None of this seems to have turned Beck away from rhetoric that implies violence.

    Railing about a hypothetical situation in which children would have to take flu vaccine or be removed from their families, Beck said this week that his response would be "meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson," a reference to the gun manufacturer.

  • Tides CEO: Fox News advertisers may end up with blood on their hands

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a letter released today, Tides CEO and founder Drummond Pike called on advertisers to stop supporting Fox News.

    Pike wrote that Byron Williams -- the alleged gunman who, according to police, said he planned to murder employees of Tides and the ACLU -- relied heavily on conspiracy theories advanced on Glenn Beck's show:

    In total, prior to the attempted rampage, Beck had attacked the Tides Foundation 29 times. On September 28th, more than a month after the shooting, Beck reiterated his focus on the Tides Foundation, warning, "I'm coming for you." In jailhouse interviews, the gunman confessed he views Beck as a "schoolteacher" who "blew my mind." My would-be killer admitted that Beck "give[s] you every ounce of evidence you could possibly need" to commit violence.

    Pike noted that "businesses that pay to broadcast commercials on Fox News are subsidizing Glenn Beck's television show by continuing to pump money into the network," adding, "It has become clear that the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop supporting Fox News."

    Pike concluded: "The next 'assassin' may succeed, and if so, there will be blood on many hands. The choice is yours. Please join my call to do the right thing in this regard and put Fox News at arm's length from your company by halting your advertising with them."

    Read the full letter below.

  • Brady Campaign: Byron Williams credits Beck with "conspiracy theory that led him to his violent actions"

    Beck part of connection between "extreme right-wing rhetoric and gun violence"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has released a statement noting that "Byron Williams gives much of the credit to Fox's Glenn Beck for the conspiracy theory that led him to his violent actions," adding, "Here at the Brady Campaign we have been sounding the alarm about the connection between terrorism and guns, and extreme right-wing rhetoric and gun violence."

    This week, Media Matters' reported on how Glenn Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.

    From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence statement:

    Byron Williams, an ex-felon, was on his way to shoot staff members of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU this summer. He was stopped by law enforcement for erratic driving and then opened fire.

    Williams wounded two officers before being taken into custody. He later said his intention was to "start a revolution." Williams gives much of the credit to Fox's Glenn Beck for the conspiracy theory that led him to his violent actions.

    Williams said Beck would not advocate violence, "but he'll give you every ounce of evidence that you could possibly need."

    Too many people are turning to guns to remedy their grievances. And they are being fueled by rhetoric from leaders of the extreme gun rights movement.

    Here at the Brady Campaign we have been sounding the alarm about the connection between terrorism and guns, and extreme right-wing rhetoric and gun violence.

  • Rev. Wallis calls on "progressive hunter" Beck to "take responsibility for how he speaks"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    In an October 14 Sojourners' column, Rev. Jim Wallis called on Glenn Beck to "make the connection that [Martin Luther] King did between the violence of the tongue and that of the fist, and to take responsibility for how he speaks about those with whom he disagrees." Wallis was referencing Beck's boasts of being a "progressive hunter" and Byron Williams' claims in a recent interview with Media Matters that Beck was his "teacher."

    Last week, Media Matters reported on how Glenn Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to reportedly plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.

  • RW blogosphere's silence over Beck-inspired shooting speaks volumes

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Byron William made himself no friends within the GOP Noise Machine when he agreed to jailhouse interviews with reporter John Hamiliton and then proceeded to detail how Fox News' Glenn Beck had been like a "schoolteacher" to Williams in the months and weeks before his planned mass shooting.

    Ever since Beck began mainstreaming a new brand of militia media and embracing insurrectionist rhetoric, his right-wing apologists have claimed it's not fair to connect Beck's rhetoric with acts of political violence because Beck deplores violence and can't control the actions of his listeners and viewers.

    But now Williams has told his troubling tale and there's no longer any doubt about causation between violent political rhetoric and actual acts of violence. The denials don't work any more, so instead the right-wing blogoshphere has fallen silent in the face of William's own story, with virtually all of Beck's online defenders refusing to acknowledge the ugly truth, let alone try to argue against it.

    Scanning the right-wing media horizon since Monday, I cannot find a single high-profile player in the opinion game who's been willing to touch the Byron Williams story; a story that blows a hole in the Beck defense.

    Not even Andrew Breitbart and his bloggers, who are incessantly whining about supposed left-wing violence, and who ritually parade around the Kenneth Gladney story as proof that political violence is looming, even they won't touch the cut-and-dry Byron Williams story. Even they can't seem to find any opening to extricate Beck from his man-made mess.

  • Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: Media Matters report shows "clear link" between "armed violence" and Fox News rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    In a Huffington Post blog this morning, Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, responds to Media Matters' report on how Glenn Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to reportedly plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Horwitz comments that the report "demonstrates a clear link between armed violence and the contemptuous political rhetoric that seems to be the raison d'être for Fox News."

    Horwitz further links Williams' rhetoric to that of the National Rifle Association, which made Beck the keynote speaker of their last national convention:

    Beck, of course, was the keynote speaker at the National Rifle Association's annual convention this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. His hostile and confrontational rhetoric was on display as he told those in attendance, "'Courageous restraint?' I'm sorry, you're coming at me with a gun, I'm going to shoot you!" and encouraged them to form citizens' militias to deal with the problem of illegal immigration.

    NRA President Ron Schmeits, like Williams, couldn't get enough, telling Beck, "Glenn, we're big fans of you and your show." Perhaps the NRA sees a bit of their own influence in Beck. After all, the NRA was demonizing Soros and the Tides Foundation with propaganda long before Beck ever appeared on FOX.

    Williams, too, has been influenced by the gun lobby. During his interview with Hamilton, he insisted that his planned rampage was legitimated by the Constitution. "[America's Founding Fathers] gave us so many rights and so much sovereignty, that they felt that we even have the right to overthrow our government if it became oppressive," he stated. "That's the real nature of the Second amendment of the Constitution. It's a right of forming militia and protecting ourselves against foreign bodies and domestic bodies. It was a right to have equal firepower even against our own government."

    Such language could have been lifted from the NRA's amicus brief in the 2008 D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court case. Or perhaps Williams heard Newt Gingrich speaking at the NRA's 2010 annual convention. Gingrich addressed those in attendance on the same day as Beck and told them, "I want to preface my explanation of the Second Amendment by saying it is not in defense of hunting. It is not in defense of target shooting. It is not in defense of collecting. The Second Amendment is in defense of freedom from the State."

    The NRA billed their 2010 convention as a "Celebration of American Values." For those in the crosshairs of extreme right-wing rhetoric, however, there is little to celebrate. "I wish Glenn Beck would grow up and learn that he has real responsibilities," says Tides founder Drummond Pike. "He has a very magnified voice in the media landscape ... We have become so polarized, and portions of the population so fearful, that we are risking our American tradition of openness and tolerance in very scary ways."

  • SPLC: "Beck's breathless demonization of" liberals "has not occurred in a vacuum"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an October 11 post on their Hate Watch blog, the Southern Poverty Law Center highlighted Media Matters's interview with Byron Williams, noting that "Beck's breathless demonization of Tides and other liberal groups has not occured in a vacuum." From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

    The interview and the accompanying article, by Pacifica Radio producer John Hamilton, illuminates the role Fox News and specifically Fox host Glenn Beck played in turning Williams' attention toward the groups and convincing him that they were at the center of a vast plot to destroy the country.

    [...]

    Beck's influence seems especially salient with regards to Williams' strange obsession with the Tides Foundation, a low-profile group that dispenses grants to liberal causes. According to Hamilton, Beck had attacked Tides 29 times on his Fox News show in the year-and-a-half leading up to the shooting, often placing it at the center of fantastical diagrams depicting liberal-socialist plots to wreck America.

    [...]

    Beck's breathless demonization of Tides and other liberal groups has not occurred in a vacuum. The rhetoric that helped inspire Williams to pack his car with guns and ammo and head toward San Francisco finds echo throughout the rightwing media world.