20 October, 2010
A murder plot inspired by FOX News and Glenn Beck
If you’ve ever seen Glenn Beck’s show, you know how paranoid, misleading and hateful his rants can be. But it’s even worse than that.
The extreme rhetoric espoused by Beck and others on FOX News is scary because it’s easy to see how this rhetoric could inspire violent acts against progressives. Unfortunately, a new report makes clear that’s exactly what happened in at least one near-tragic case.1
Three months ago, a heavily armed man named Byron Williams was on his way to kill people at two non-profit organizations in San Francisco when he got into a gun battle with police. Luckily, they arrested him before he could carry out his plot. Now, in an interview from jail, the “progressive hunter” has revealed that in fact Fox News’ Glenn Beck was a major inspiration:
“Beck will never say anything about a conspiracy, will never advocate violence … But he’ll give you every ounce of evidence that you could possibly need.”2
Byron Williams is just one example of the very real and growing danger of political violence from the far-right — and FOX’s continued promotion of hatemongers like Glenn Beck only fans the flames.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Color of Change to launch a campaign to reduce FOX’s poisonous, dangerous influence on our nation. More than 200,000 people have signed the petition asking businesses and public places to stop playing FOX News. Will you add your voice?
This story is personal. Byron Williams came frighteningly close to killing our friends at the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU — which is less than one block from CREDO.
While many Americans are aware of the ACLU, the Tides Foundation is an organization that most people had never heard of — until Glenn Beck started demonizing and spreading false information about them. Since Beck’s show premiered, he has pushed conspiracy theories involving Tides on nearly 30 episodes. During the same time period, Tides was never mentioned on other news channels.3,4
According to the interview with Williams just released by Media Matters, he was driven by a bizarre and false conspiracy theory involving the Tides Foundation that Glenn Beck pushed multiple times on his television show.5
It’s stunningly irresponsible for FOX to continue legitimizing this baseless and incendiary nonsense under their “news” banner. Will you join us in asking businesses to Turn Off FOX on their TVs, and stop promoting this dangerous rhetoric in our communities?
Williams is the clearest example we have of someone who was motivated by FOX News to engage in political violence — but he’s part of a consistent pattern of violence from far-right extremists that underscores the danger of the hateful rhetoric and misinformation that’s commonplace on FOX News and the right-wing noise machine.6,7
Beck’s program in particular is so extreme that 296 organizations have asked FOX to pull their advertisements from his show. (Beck’s show is known as “empty calories” because it draws few advertising dollars but substantial ratings.)8 Yet despite this significant pressure from advertisers, and clear evidence that FOX News broadcasts have lead to real-world violence, FOX continues promoting hate and fear, packaged as news.
This rhetoric is amplified every time it’s played on a TV in a bar, restaurant or other public business. We can send a strong message to FOX, and reduce the reach of FOX’s dangerous messaging, by encouraging businesses near us to turn it off.
Thankfully, police were able to stop Byron Williams before he committed a massacre. But it can happen again — let’s do everything we can to stop it.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager