Mar
11
2011

O'Reilly's Amnesia on Right-Wing Terror

While defending Rep. Peter King's (R.-N.Y.) congressional hearings on domestic Muslim extremism, Bill O'Reilly (3/9/11) scoffed at the notion that the biggest domestic terror threats in the U.S. come from the "radical right" and not from homegrown Muslims. After playing a clip of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok making that argument, O'Reilly responded:

Are you kidding me? The radical right? The last terror act assigned to them was the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.

In reality, acts of political violence connected to the far right are a regular occurrence. To make his claim, O'Reilly even had to overlook at least two domestic terror acts apparently inspired by his Fox News colleague Glenn Beck.

In July 2010 Beck devotee Byron Williams shot two California Highway Patrol officers when they stopped him on his way, as he later told police, to kill people at the Oakland California offices of the progressive Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Byron cited Beck, who journalist John Hamilton pointed out had aired anti-Tides commentaries on 29 separate editions of his Fox News show, as an inspiration.

Furthermore, the ADL reported that Pittsburgh's Richard Poplawski–who was arrested after a shootout with police that left three officers dead–was so inspired by Beck's anti-government conspiracy theories he posted to a neo-Nazi website tape of Beck suggesting the government was building concentration camps for dissidents.

And how could O'Reilly forget Jim Adkisson, who shot and killed two people at a progressive Tennessee church in 2008? In his "manifesto," Adkisson wrote that he "wanted to kill every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book." (These days, Adkisson inspiration Bernard Goldberg is best known for his regular appearances on the O'Reilly Factor.)

But there's more. What about anti-abortion terrorist Eric Rudolph, who killed two and injured scores in bombings carried out between 1996 and 1998, including attacks at women's health clinics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?

And far-right racist and anti-Semite James von Brunn, who took a rifle to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. in June 2009, shooting to death a security guard before he was stopped by police?

Perhaps O'Reilly doesn't consider Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion activist who murdered women's health provider Dr. George Tiller, a terrorist. After all, before his May 2009 murder, O'Reilly and his guests had demonized Tiller in 27 separate editions of his show, with the host dubbing Tiller a "killer" and accusing him of "Nazi stuff."

On January 17, city workers in Spokane, Washington, found a sophisticated bomb set to go off along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day march. Of course, there's a chance O'Reilly hasn't heard about this; the single mention O'Reilly's network has made of the crime was in a 100-word rip-and-read (Special Report, 1/18/11) the day after the march.

Then there's also the possibility that O'Reilly and his colleagues just don't care about right-wing domestic terrorism–especially when the news might undermine Muslim-bashing congressional hearings they do care about. On Wednesday, the day before King's congressional witch hunt began, federal officials arrested white supremacist Kevin William Harpham for attempting to use a "weapon of mass destruction" in the Spokane terror crime. To this point, the arrest has not been mentioned on Fox News.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.