Fox News’ Shepard Smith
Reporting on alleged death threats and vandalism against members of Congress following the health-care vote, Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith took a shot at “Obamacare” opponents, linking their charges of encroaching “socialism” to inciting violence.
“We keep talking about these isolated incidents, and I wonder when it is that an isolated incident becomes a string of things?” Smith asked Carl Cameron, Fox News Channel chief political correspondent. “We have a congressman spat upon, we have a congressman with racial slurs, homophobic slurs against Barney Frank, it goes on and on, and now these death threats.
“And you wonder when some in there, on both sides of the aisle, are going to look in the mirror and go, ‘My overinflated rhetoric is causing some people who digest it – and don’t think of it as they do as just political rhetoric – they think it’s real, that this might be Armageddon or something, and then they go out and act.’”
Smith was likely alluding to an interview earlier this week with GOP National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in which he scoffed at Republicans specifically for likening the health-care package to “a loss of freedom” and “Armageddon.”
Despite Cameron’s caution against linking extreme “fringy types” to political parties or movements, however, Smith persisted by implying “inflated rhetoric” about Marxism and socialism is “tied together” with violent acts, fringe or not.
The entire exchange can be seen below:
In the segment, Cameron cautioned Smith that, “We in the media have to be particularly careful to provide some level of perspective and proportion.”
Just as violent protesters at World Trade Organization meetings aren’t representative of Democrats, Cameron argued, neither should the most recent threats be directly linked to opponents of government health-care.
“To associate [those making threats] with a party or particular organization that might be up here – in this case the tea party movement – is really dangerous,” Cameron argued.
After Cameron signed off, however, Smith continued the commentary.
“One thing we do know is when leaders on either side of the aisle go with this over-inflated rhetoric and they tell us it’s the end of the world, it’s Armageddon, the Marxists have taken over Washington, it’s the end of the world as we know it, we’re moving into socialism,” Smith said, “when they say things like that that maybe some of them don’t really believe, and then the fringes believe it and then they go out and do stupid things, well, I mean, it’s all kind of tied together isn’t it?”
As WND reported, Smith has made the link between conservative thought and violence before.
During analysis of the June 2009 shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a white supremacist gunman opened fire with a rifle, Smith launched into a diatribe about the “crazies” that, for example, demand Obama provide proof of his constitutional eligibility to serve as president.
During his interview with Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Smith said:
“There are these crazies out there who want to pretend [Obama's] not a citizen of the United States, who want to pretend that his religion is something they see as in some way troublesome to them and all of us. And there is a group perpetuating this thought, and there is a culture to which you can attach yourself very easily through the Internet. … We know it’s absolutely – there is no truth whatsoever – zero – to any of those ideas, yet they live within the computer and they fester in people’s minds.”
Beirich agreed completely with Smith’s remarks, as she responded:
“You’re hitting the nail on the head about these kinds of crazed conspiracies whether they’re about the president, or we’re hearing things like FEMA setting up camps to round up Americans and put them in. I’m getting bad sort of deja-vu from the 1990s when anti-government militias were on the rise, when Tim McVeigh committed that [bombing] in Oklahoma City and I really am hoping that we’re not going through a repeat of that.”
Smith made numerous references to a Department of Homeland Security report warning of potential violence from “right-wing extremists,” and said he’s been personally disturbed by an increase in e-mail to him from people “who are way out there on a limb … out there in a scary place.”
He read what he called a representative message that asked, “How dare you tell us to get over the birth certificate … ?”
Two hours after Smith’s TV remarks about “crazies,” his network colleague Glenn Beck said of the shooting in Washington, “This is not the work of right-wing conservatives.”
“This guy is a lone gunman nut job,” Beck said. “I’m not stirring the pot. I am pointing out that the pot is boiling and there is trouble in America. … Common sense tells you that there are very hateful people on the right and on the left.”