When news broke last Thursday that a deranged gunman had opened fire outside a Pentagon security checkpoint, wounding two officers before being stopped by return fire (the gunman later died from his wounds), the reaction from some oddly giddy right-wing bloggers was swift. They wanted everyone to pay attention to the story. Why? Because bloggers claimed the gunman, John Patrick Bedell, was a loony liberal.
Under increased scrutiny for the rampant anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party movement, along with its often violent imagery and open talk of insurrection, right-wingers seemed anxious, even frantic, to hold up the Pentagon killer as proof that they weren't responsible for -- or connected with -- every political act of vigilante violence that makes headlines these days.
But as more details emerge about the incident, the far-right bloggers may wish they hadn't shone a spotlight on the disturbing Pentagon story. If anything, as we learn more about the anti-government rantings and writings of Bedell, this madman attack looks an awful lot like a string of other "lone wolf" attacks, such as the recent kamikaze pilot who flew his plane into an IRS office in Austin.
They're attacks that appear to be fueled by an almost pathological hatred for the U.S. government -- the same open hatred that right-wing bloggers, AM talk radio hosts, Fox News' lineup of anti-government prophets, and Tea Party leaders have been frantically fueling for the last year; pushing propaganda and warning of America's permanent, democratic demise under President Obama.
As I noted last year when the first red flags were raised about the specter of anti-government violence, what the GOP Noise Machine is doing today is embracing, and mainstreaming, the same kind of hate rhetoric and doomsday conspiratorial talk that flourished on the far-right fringes during the '90s. (Think Waco and black helicopters.) And legitimizing that kind of talk is dangerous.
On the one hand, right-wing media love mainstreaming vile, alarmist, anti-government rhetoric. Yet they're also hyper-sensitive to the charge that they're, y'know, mainstreaming vile, alarmist anti-government rhetoric and might also be goading some crazies into action. Consumed with Obama Derangement Syndrome, 'wingers literally cannot help themselves. Just this weekend, one prominent, albeit unhinged, right-wing site branded Obama as "suicide-bomber-in-chief." They've removed all sensible filters, which means the crazy talk flows 24-7.
Read the entire Media Matters column here.