Dear Rupert Murdoch, since you are responsible for what is on Fox News I have a question for you: Do you ever wonder how you'll be remembered by Americans and the world (not to mention your children) if someone takes a shot at President Obama, and when asked why they did it, quotes the misinformation spouted by Fox News as their "reason"?
You have dozens of far right and dangerous and/or crazy seeming commentators working for you but lets just talk about one as an example of the rest. What of Glenn Beck?
Does the name Father Charles Coughlin ring a bell? Do you want to be remembered as the facilitator of today's version of that deranged radio personality and hater who hounded President Roosevelt? What if a Coughlin devotee had assassinated Roosevelt? Instead of just being a nasty footnote to American history Coughlin would be remembered as another John Wilkes Booth. What if Coughlin had had someone with money and virtually unlimited influence backing him and amplifying his remarks? How would we feel about his backer?
Glenn Beck is a second rate, not terribly bright Coughlin-type demagogue with rather dimwitted followers. And you are the paymaster making his silliness dangerous by giving him a voice that would otherwise be heard only by those who happened to hear him barking at the moon on some lonely street corner.
You've given today's Coughlins -- the haters -- a national platform. And they have taken the lies of the "birthers", "deathers", "Obama-is-the-Antichristers" etc., nationwide. It was a bad day for America when you became a citizen for the sole purpose of purchasing TV stations and invading us with your far right agenda. But you've gone way past politics, even the politics of hate.
You have legitimized actual insanity by widespread repetition of extremist racist and religion-based lies to the sort of people who believe the earth is 6000 years old, that Jesus will come back soon and send everyone not like them to Hell, that Obama is the Antichrist. In other words you've got the keys to the national asylum, are stirring up the inmates and threatening to unlock the door!
Here's a sample (compiled with the help of Media Matters and the online magazine Crooks and Liars) of just a small stock of the incendiary rhetoric and bare-faced lies your money pays for.
Fox News host Glenn Beck has:
# said President Obama has, "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,"
# flirted with the idea that FEMA is building detention camps,
# suggested that President Obama is purposefully "tanking" the economy to force young people to work for AmeriCorps,
# said that Obama is "moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism,"
# stated: "We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination..."
# says Obama "Wants you to work as a bureaucratic slave to government."
# said: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing? Do you not hear -- do you not hear the cries of people who are saying stop? We would like some sanity in our country for a second! We didn't vote to lose the republic."
# ran several segments, including one on his radio show, promoting the concept of the secession of Texas from the Union,
# promotes "one world government" paranoia, including a supposed plot to put us all on a global currency controlled by the New World Order,
# warned his audience about Obama's supposed secret plot to grab our guns,
# speculated that it is actually liberal "political correctness" that inspires right-wingers to go on murderous killing rampages...
Rupert Murdoch; is there a limit? If Beck was shrieking, "Kill the uppity nigger in the White House!" would that be okay too? Would it be any more of an incitement to violence than what Beck is saying now?
You can't claim you're not having a baleful impact. How about this? According to the Boston Globe ("Secret Service Strained" October 18, 09),
The unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, a rise in racist hate groups, and a new wave of antigovernment fervor threaten to overwhelm the US Secret Service, according to government officials and reports, raising new questions about the 144-year-old agency’s overall mission.
Where is this "new wave of antigovernment fervor" coming from? Media barons have started a war or two before but I don't recall one fomenting the climate wherein an assassination attempt becomes virtually inevitable. Far fetched? Who stirred up that nut in Pittsburgh who shot down three police officers because he believed that Obama was going to order cops to take away his guns?
Don't you know that here in America we have a rather large angry far right well-armed subculture thriving on imagined insults and nursing a perpetual grievance against the "other"? Don't you have any qualms about feeding them the red meat of hate, lies and incitement?
However you got to this point you still have a choice: reign in FOX News, fire Beck, speak out to undo some of the lies you have told through your people about our President, our country and the world, or go down in history as the man who fed the unhinged haters lies until one or more of them boiled over in some desperate act and lashed out.
You are playing Russian roulette with American history. When your name is forever linked to an act of history-derailing domestic terror your billions won't save you from the place in history reserved for a select group of monsters. When your name is linked to our next Oklahoma-type bombing or the killing of one of our elected leaders, nothing else you did in your life will be remembered.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) =