Are Radical Right Media Feeding Political Violence and Hate?


That's the question posed this past week at PBS' Bill Moyers Journal. The program is a hard hitting examination of the impact of radical right talk radio, books, and TV shows not just on the nature of political discourse but also their link to violent actions against elected officials and fellow citizens.

When Glenn Beck says: "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it," is it just harmless rhetoric or something more?

When Michael Reagan says that 9/11 deniers should be taken out and shot, is that harmless?
When Michael Savage refers to liberals as psychotic, as traitors, and as a virus on America, how does that shape audience perceptions and even actions against liberals?

What about when Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners to launch Operation Chaos against the Democrats with an explicit goal of generating violence at the Democratic Convention. As Limbaugh told his audience: "This is about chaos, this is why it is called Operation Chaos[...]the dream end, if people say what is your exit strategy. The dream end is this keeps up to the convention. And that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots and all of that. That's the objective here."

What do readers think? Could radical right media actually incite violence against liberals and or various out groups in society?

More like this

What's the difference between Sarah Palin and Tim McVeigh?


(i.e. I think Rachel Maddow is far worse than Limbaugh although perhaps on par with Savage)


Seriously now, what the fuck? When has Rachel Maddow ever called conservatives "a virus"? When has she advocated murder, or killing of any kind? When has she deliberately misrepresented facts to encourage violence?

She's not perfect, but the main flaw of her show is that it's occasionally a little boring and predictable, and is often a teensy bit too self-righteous. It's not that she's a vile person, like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter indubitably are (their public personae, at least).

By Conan the Pseu… (not verified) on 03 Aug 2010 #permalink

whether it leads to physical violence, I don't know. But it definitely leads to an unhealthy hatred. (Look at the PZ vs Catholic League)

Considering that the somewhat recent UU killings were, indeed, fueled by someone who bought into that exact line of crap, as the show points out, then the answer is fairly clearly yes. And there's not much room for misinterpretation of their words, especially given that they sell books explicitly reinforcing what could otherwise be considered some sort of dark humor.

(Also see… , or, rather, the links from it.)


It's the GOP. They'd have to hire an illegal immigrant to do the rioting for them.

There is no question, YES! Rwanda is exactly the template. Make your political enemies non-humans and you can forment violence against them much, much easier.
See Driftglass's blog for examples.

I was in San Francisco recently talking about the Palin issue. No one could have told our party affiliation (for the record I'm voting Obama). But since we were saying that it was a bold move and political genius several people felt obliged to come up to us and tell us that they wanted all Republicans dead and several other things along those lines.

Let's not kid ourselves that this is just the conservatives. Conservatives tend to have a blind spot for conservative excesses (although most conservatives I know hate Coulter and Savage). Liberals tend to have a blind spot for liberal excesses.

In any case when I listen to very liberal radio it doesn't seem that different from conservative radio and sometimes worse. (i.e. I think Rachel Maddow is far worse than Limbaugh although perhaps on par with Savage)

I think you're trolling. Why don't you say what's on your mind?

By Matthew Platte (not verified) on 18 Sep 2008 #permalink

This strikes me as similar to the argument that ozzy osborne's song about suicide was to blame for teen suicide in the 80's. Or that violent movies cause teenagers to be more violent.

clark, but the airwaves are mostly fueled by the cons. so that is the issue I think, not saying libs are just as stupid

People's intuitive judgements about the influence of pop culture on the behavior of others are useless...just a template for everyone to project their own agenda onto. We'd much rather yammer on about something in a way that reinforces our own preconceptions than do the work of actually figuring it out--that's why there are more pundits, journalists, and bloggers than their will ever be social scientists.