This morning on Fox News, Shannon Bream interviewed Fox News contributor Liz Trotta. The segment dealt with what Bream characterized as the over-reporting of incidents of violence directed at Democrats in the days following the passage of the health care bill. Those incidents included death threats, smashed windows, mail with suspicious white powder, severed gas lines, etc.
On Fox News, however, such examples of domestic terrorism are irrelevant trivialities. Trotta began her spiel by asserting that the left invented violent dissent back in the 1960’s. You know, the peacenik, free love, flower children, who marched to end discrimination and war. They were a frightening bunch, weren’t they? And because of them, the overt hostility being played out by extremist conservatives today is, in Trotta’s words, “laughable.”
It’s funny, my recollection of the sixties is very different. It wasn’t the followers of the Gandhi-inspired Martin Luther King who were stirring up trouble. It was the right-wingers who were beating up (or worse) anyone with long hair or dark skin. And the rightward proclivity for violence exists today with armed patriot and militia groups, and NRA-sponsored tea partiers who show up with signs that say “We came unarmed – this time.”
But Trotta doesn’t stop there. She goes on to discuss particular acts of violence that she thinks are unworthy of attention. She told Bream that “a brick through a window is pretty low on the violence scale.” I wonder how she would react if it were her window? I imagine she would casually get up from the sofa, pick up the brick with a chuckle, and tell her kids to turn off the TV and go play outside. After all, it’s only a brick. Don’t be a wuss.
Trotta’s exhibition of bravado is nothing new. During the presidential campaign she came out in favor of assassination:
“…and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama … uh … Obama … well, both if we could.”
Trotta further disparaged the victims and critics of violence by portraying their complaints as “whining.” In Trotta’s view, if someone leaves you a profanity-laced message saying snipers are going to kill your children (as happened to Rep. Louise Slaughter), you are just a sniveling bellyacher if you bring it up on TV or report it to the police.
Trotta didn’t say whether she thought Republican Rep. Eric Cantor was whining when he held a press conference to disclose that he was a victim of violence. His allegations were broadcast on Fox News with a screen graphic that read “Gunman Shoots Up Office Of Number Two House Republican. Cantor whined that…
“I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week.”
Perhaps it doesn’t qualify as whining if it is lying. Because police later revealed that the bullet did not directly threaten Cantor at all. It was not shot at his office (it was random gunfire into the air). It was not even his office that was hit (it was a different unit on a different floor). And no one even knew there was a campaign office in the building (the office was unmarked and wasn’t in his district). In short, everything Cantor alleged about the incident was utterly false. Yet Trotta never mentioned Cantor as one of the whiners for whom she has such scorn.
This is yet another example of Fox News embracing the most repulsively hostile rhetoric. Trotta, who has her own record of violent fantasy, is quite at home on the network that features folks like Ralph Peters who advocates military attacks on the press. And Michael Scheuer who told Glenn Beck that “[T]he only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.”
These sort of sentiments are a routine part of Fox’s editorial position. It isn’t whining, and it isn’t concealed. But It is an apologia for domestic terrorism and a justification, and invitation, for continued and escalating violence. The people at Fox News, from the administrative staff, to the presenters like Trotta and Glenn Beck, to the executives like Roger Ailes, and all the way up to Rupert Murdoch, should consider themselves culpable for any and all of the ugly events that their vulgar and irresponsible actions might predictably encourage. They are sitting on a powder keg and playing with matches. If something blows up they cannot pretend that they had nothing to do with it.