05/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Beck Named 'World's Worst Person' For Fearmongering

Lots of commenters didn't like my take on a CNN segment, responding to the recent uptick in gun violence by anointing Fox News as the primary driver behind that criminality. Well, I appreciate the respectful way you all raised your objections. And I suppose I'm most moved by the gentlemen who chided me, in sincere frustration, that finally someone -- Rick Sanchez -- was speaking out against the toxic discourse, and there I was, calling him out. Well, regardless of my own point of view, I do respect the frustration that many of you feel, when you see people talking up wack panic from their doom room and poisoning the discourse with a lot of unnecessary histrionics. So, from our Media Monitor, Jon, here's a video of Keith Olbermann, generally agreeing with the contention that Glenn Beck is "encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans."


If it makes more sense to say it briefly, my problems with Sanchez weren't with the sentiments he was espousing, it was with the fact that he was purporting to put forth an argument -- a debunking of the crazy claims that the government was coming to take people's guns away. I found myself frustrated by the fact that in eight minutes, Sanchez presented only one piece of countering evidence, and that it wasn't a very well thought out piece, and that once countered, he had no choice but to immediately turn to Eric Boehlert for "help." From there, Boehlert did what Media Matters does well -- decode the media narrative -- but he wasn't prepared to elucidate anything having to do with gun policy either. It was just very frustrating to watch. It was just not a strongly argued segment, on Sanchez's part. (One commenter from yesterday provided about a dozen links to good countering evidence...he should have been the one on teevee!)

As far as the role the Fox News plays in acts of violence, well, look -- I've been pretty up front of my dislike of their toxic discourse. But at the same time, I am just very skeptical of such "X made me do it" arguments. Music and video games are frequently blamed for violent acts, and I have always found such arguments to be dubious. I think that there's plenty of room to point out the speciousness of Glenn Beck's worldview without risking a similar act of speciousness. And if you're going to call out your business rival on the air for inciting a specific instance of violence, it would be my preference that an ironclad case on the merits, based on evidence, be at the ready.

Nevertheless, many of you felt very differently, and passionately so, and I think it's simply because you felt I was diminishing the impact of the crazysauce lunacy that you hear on the teevee. If that's how it came across, that's my fault. I just felt let down by Sanchez's segment. We won't always agree on things. Thanks for speaking your minds and very thoughtfully sharing your concerns, and I hope you'll continue doing so.

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