The evidence that Fox News is a constant source of hate speech that can potentially incite violence continues mount. This observation shouldn’t surprise anyone who watches the network with an open mind.
But now there is yet another real-world example of just how dangerous the network’s hostile rhetoric can be. As reported by the local CBS affiliate in San Diego, California…
“A La Mesa man who directed threats at the San Diego and Washington, D.C., offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations a year ago was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail and five years probation. John David Weissinger, 54, pleaded guilty last August to a charge of making a criminal threat, with hate crime allegations, and possession of an illegal assault rifle.
This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. Muslim-Americans have been the victims of rising numbers of assaults as the heated dialog about terrorism is advanced in the media and by Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump. Mother Jones reports that recent FBI data shows the number of hate crimes in general have declined, except for Muslim-Americans.
What makes this latest threat notable is the argument made by the lawyer for Weissinger in an attempt to persuade the judge to be lenient when sentencing his client. The lawyer said that…
“Weissinger has problems with alcohol, anxiety and depression and had just finished watching a week of Fox News coverage on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris when he threatened the CAIR offices.”
This is a serious effort to explain why someone would commit an act of terrorism. After all, how could Weissinger be faulted for cracking under the pressure after a week of absorbing hate from Fox News anchors and guests characterizing all Muslims as dangerous radicals bent on murdering freedom-loving Christian Americans?
This legal tactic is, of course, patently absurd. Weissinger should not be granted any leniency based on such a flagrant attempt to absolve him of responsibility for his actions. However, it is not unrealistic to recognize that a major news enterprise engaging in a campaign of brainwashing their audience to despise a particular group of people can have an impact on weak-minded individuals. It has happened before.
Two years ago an Indiana man pleaded guilty to arson for having set fire to an Islamic Center in Toledo, Ohio. He was sentenced to 20 years, and when the judge asked him if he knew any Muslims or what Islam is he said “No, I only know what I hear on Fox News.”
Earlier this year an ordained minister in the Christian National Church pleaded guilty to plotting a massacre of the citizens of an upstate New York community of Muslims known as Islamberg. He justified his actions by claiming that the residents of Islamberg were planning a terrorist attack, a notion he picked up from a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s show who claimed that Muslims were training to launch domestic attacks.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
These are not isolated incidents. There are many more documented cases of hostilities aimed at Muslims and others by viewers of Fox News. An especially troubling example occurred when a man inspired by Glenn Beck was apprehended on his way to San Francisco to murder employees of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. And when this happens this often, you have to eventually conclude that it is either due to gross ignorance, or it’s deliberate.