Eric Boehlart at Mediamatters has taken Fox News and Glenn Beck to task for their promotion of militia activity. He uses the recently arrested Hutaree Militia as a case study for Fox’s influence.
For anyone who thought the dark, Waco-fueled chapter of domestic extremism in this country was behind us, the Hutaree arrests were a jarring reminder that, with the election of another Democratic president, the violent militia message is back.
Boehlart then goes on to accuse Beck of speaking in code to promote militia activity.
Not only have the number of radical-right extremist groups exploded in the wake of President Obama’s election (more than 500 today, as compared to just 200 during the 1990s), but these militia members now have a proud sponsor in the person of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement’s hateful and foreboding anti-government message. Beck continues to give a voice, and national platform, to the same deranged, hard-core militia haters and self-style “patriots” who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s in the wake of Waco.
On TV and the radio, Beck rarely bothers to mention the militia movement by name. Instead, he’s simply co-opted their rhetoric as his own. He’s acted as a crucial transmitter, warning about Obama fronting his own private “army,” and urging followers to “start food storage.”
Not to mention these previous militia moments:
- Beck: “[I]f we don’t have some common sense, we’re facing the destruction of our country… it’s coming”
Boehlart continues, criticizing Beck’s network, Fox News for promoting militia activity too.
And at Fox News, it’s not just Beck. The cable “news” channel’s militia-flavored message (beware gun-toting IRS agents!) has been as simple as it’s been relentless: Obama is destroying this country and he’s doing it intentionally. It’s not that people disagree with Obama and don’t like what they call his “liberal” policies as applied to the economy and health care reform, etc. Instead, the conflict is much more dire. Obama is not just misguided in this political and legislative agenda. Instead, Obama is the incarnation of evil (the Antichrist?), and his driving hatred for America, as well as for democracy, runs so deep that he ran for president in order to destroy the United States from within.
In a way, I wonder why militiamen bother to form groups anymore if Fox News is willing to embrace and broadcast their fervent, anti-government New World Order rants on a daily basis? The militia flourished on the fringes in the 1990s, in part, because those on the far-right felt like their government-hating message was being ignored. But today it’s celebrated and broadcast nationally. Talkers like Beck have trumped the militia movement. They’ve completely co-opted the message and made the groups increasingly irrelevant as Fox News cuts out the middleman — the militia groups — and hijacks their insurrectionist, government-hating rhetoric.