Is Fox News' prophet of doom truly concerned that one of his listeners or viewers might do "something stupid," as unnamed Glenn Beck "friends" recently told the New York Times? Does he fret that one of his followers will be inspired by the talkers' doomsday warnings of progressive peril and lash out at an innocent target? Is Beck, the self-described "progressive hunter," nervous that an act of vigilante violence will cast a cloud over his mini-media empire?
If so, Beck's too late because that bloody ship has already sailed.
The acts of stupidity have been many in the wake of the Tea Party movement's rise, fueled at times by its government-hating message of revenge and reconciliation, eagerly amplified by the likes of Beck. Indeed, the ghoulish stupidity began just weeks after Obama was inaugurated and just weeks after Beck made his Fox News debut (where he quickly gamed out bloody scenarios for a possible insurrection against the tyrannical federal government).
The shocking stupidity burst into daylight on the morning of April 4, 2009, when right-wing conspiratorial nut Richard Poplawksi, paranoid about Obama confiscating Americans' guns, set up a deadly ambush on his front porch and shot three Pittsburgh police officers. ("Rich, like myself, loved Glenn Beck," a friend later told author Will Bunch.)
And that violent stupidity continued through this summer when a dedicated Glenn Beck fan from southern California by the name of Byron Williams strapped on his body armor, loaded up his mother's pick-up truck with ammo and set off on the highway for San Francisco in hopes of killing liberals in order to ignite a political revolution.
Now, thanks to the reporting of John Hamilton, we know Beck and his conspiratorial chalkboard played a central role in the shooter's growing rage and what he saw as a elaborate, progressive scheme to undermine America. For the pliable Williams, Beck was "like a schoolteacher" who walked his students through a connect-the-dots history of an evil, progressive cabal that has seized ultimate power and now controls Obama.
The sad truth is we're going to see more lone wolves like Byron Williams. We're going to see more attempts at vigilante violence during the Age of Obama simply because the right-wing media, led by Beck, continue to stoke dangerous fires with relentlessly incendiary rhetoric and irresponsible back-to-the-wall scenarios.
Read the full Media Matters column, here.