In a letter delivered to News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch Monday afternoon, and obtained by TPM, Media Matters founder David Brock says the time has come for Fox News to take responsibility for its programming. Specifically, Brock is calling on Murdoch to make Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck tone down their rhetoric on threat of termination — or to be complicit in acts of political violence.
“Beck and Palin are two of Fox’s most recognizable figures,” Brock writes. “Before this heartbreaking tragedy in Arizona, you were either unwilling or unable to rein in their violent rhetoric.”
But now, in the wake of the killings, your network must take a stand.
You have the power to order them to stop using violent rhetoric, on and off of Fox’s air. If they fail to do so, it is incumbent upon you to fire them or be responsible for the climate they create and any consequences thereof.
Brock has warned for a long time now that the subtext in Beck’s and Palin’s rhetoric could lead to fringe acts of violence. Specifically, he’s taken issue with Beck referring to himself as a “progressive hunter,” who called on his fans to “drive a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.”
Conservatives are warning liberals not to jump the gun. And, indeed, current evidence suggests shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughlin’s murderous obsession with Gabrielle Giffords dates back to 2007, before Palin took center stage in American politics.
But for well over a year now, liberals and law enforcement officials have been warning that pitched rhetoric depicting the government as a real, physical threat creates a climate that can cause unhinged people to pop off unpredictably. You can read the full letter here.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.