Tuesday, April 07, 2009

WHAT YOU SQUAWKIN' 'BOUT, WILLIS? - A Mendacious Media Matters Man Splatters Glenn Beck With Faux Outrage

The following is a response to a blog post by Oliver Willis, a blogger who also works for David Brock's leftist "media watchdog" group, Media Matters for America.  Willis has been front and center among liberal bloggers who have been blaming the mainstream right (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, etc.) for supposedly creating an atmosphere of "hate" that led to the killing sprees of two gunmen well-known to be unbalanced.

In Willis' latest blog post about Pittsburgh triple-cop killer Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines during basic training (among many other unappealing traits), Willis seized upon a brief mention of Glenn Beck in an Anti-Defamation League article on the incident to imply bloodguilt on Beck's part.

This is my reply, slightly modified for readability.

The ADL article you quoted ("Richard Poplawski: Making of a Lone Wolf")  said the following:

Poplawski bought into the SHTF/TEOTWAKI conspiracy theories hook, line and sinker, even posting a link to Stormfront of a YouTube video featuring talk show host Glenn Beck talking about FEMA camps with Congressman Ron Paul.

Mr. Willis, if you were an honest person and had done your due diligence, you would have taken the reference to Richard Poplawski's Stormfront weblink to "a YouTube video featuring talk show host Glenn Beck talking about FEMA camps with Congressman Ron Paul" for what it is: Insignificant. It is especially insignificant considering the fact that the ADL piece is misleading. Beck and Paul discuss "FEMA camps" in those clips from his Fox News Channel program, but neither buy the dystopic horror stories that Poplawski apparently did long before Beck began addressing the topic.

Here are the facts: Rather than promoting conspiracy theories, Glenn Beck was trying to quell them, but he said that he didn't have enough information to do so. On March 3, 2009 on the early-morning Fox & Friends show, Beck said he was trying to debunk constant rumors about the camps, but that neither he nor his staff could gather enough solid evidence sufficient for the task. He outlined on F&F how his researchers found that the FEMA facilities indeed exist, and that they are empty at present. He said he would discuss his research on his own Fox show later that same day.

A few hours later, on the March 3 edition of the Glenn Beck (radio) Program, he explained that he got involved in the FEMA rumors because he got calls about them the previous week, and he wanted to smack them down. He mentioned that members of his staff said "Ron Paul wants to talk to you about it." Beck says his response was, "I don't want to be 'that guy.' I don't want to believe that stuff!" But once they started investigating, it got harder to let go. "If it is true, then it is true. If it is not ... (sputtering) I'm on the side of it not being true...I really expected [it to be] a slam dunk 'yes' or 'no' [answer]. It's not! ... We are digging, and I will tell you that I will not say that it's happening, I won't say that it's NOT happening at this point, but I won't say that it is happening until I know that it's happening. I gotta have more than anything on the Internet, I have to SEE them ..."

Hours after that, Paul appeared on the March 3 edition of Beck's TV show. However, before going to the live remote to Paul in Washington, Beck told his TV audience that despite his promise on Fox & Friends hours earlier, he was postponing his "FEMA camps" story.

GLENN BECK: I got up this morning after a very long night of tossing and turning. If you watched Fox & Friends or listen to my radio show, I told you that I was going to tell you about the FEMA camps, or the FEMA prisons today. This is something that I snapped on the air, 'cause somebody called me up and said, "[I] want to talk about the FEMA prisons," and I said, "Urrrumph!" Can we just settle the "FEMA prison" thing? I don't believe in the FEMA prison ... if you don't know, I'll tell you about it in a couple of days. I was going to talk about it today, but as I came and did the show this morning, and I went into the office, and I was looking at all the research that was being compiled, and it wasn't complete. And I am not willing to bring something to you that's half-baked. If these things exist, it's bad, and we will cover it. If they don't exist, it's irresponsible to NOT debunk this story ... This program is not beholden to anybody; we answer to ourselves. I answer to ME. I lost sleep last night worrying about this story, thinking about this story, making sure I got it right. I just want to be able to look at myself in the mirror, and also to sleep at night.

He instead set up a discussion of how new charity restrictions on wealthy American donors seems to dovetail with other Obama WH efforts to force a scenario in which the Feds have complete control of healthcare and medical research. He then introduced Paul -- an M.D. and ObGyn -- in a discussion regarding creeping government takeover of all things medical. But before asking his first question, Beck thanked Paul and his office for assistance in researching the FEMA rumors. Here is the entirety of the conversation regarding FEMA:
BECK: Joining me now is Congressman Ron Paul. Hello, Congressman, how are you?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: Fine, Glenn, good to be with you.

BECK: Good to be with you. First of all, on the FEMA thing: I want to make sure we're turning over every stone on anything, because there is a lot of crazy stuff that is being said about these things, and I appreciate you talking to us, and we'll be in touch with you again, because I want to make sure we have everything you might be concerned with as well. Will you help us on that, sir?"

PAUL: Yeah, I don't think all the answers are in. Your concern that they might be setting up these camps that verge on concentration camps, there's no evidence I can find they're actually set up, but I think there is a justified concern, not just because of legislation that has been proposed, because that piece of legislation doesn't have a lot of co-sponsors, it's not on the verge of being passed, but the atmosphere in Washington is what we have to be concerned about.

BECK: Yes.

PAUL: You know, since 9/11, dealing with the Patriot Act, and repealing the Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Act, these are trends that are very, very bad, where personal liberties and civil liberties are not well-protected, and FEMA is already very, very powerful, and they overrule when they go in on emergencies, so in some ways, they can accomplish what you might be thinking about about setting up camps, and they don't necessarily have to have legislation, you know, to do...

BECK: Yeah, I know.

PAUL: ...to do the things that we dread. But it's something that certainly deserves a lot of attention.

BECK: Right, and I want to make it very clear, I am not fearing these things are happening, I want to set the record straight, because we've got to know what we believe in. Now, let me switch topics here. Let me switch to Barack Obama is now taking away some of the charitable donation tax deductions if you make more than $250,000 a year...

THAT'S IT. And there is no video or audio footage I could find on YouTube with Beck and Paul discussing FEMA more recent than March 3, 2008.

The ADL piece saying that Poplawski "bought into conspiracy theories ... hook, line, and sinker" immediately before disclosing that he posted links to Beck's FNC show create the false illusion that Beck was the purveyor of the conspiracies. But did Beck say the theories were true? No, he said plain as day his goal was to prove them false. Did Beck say the FEMA facilities were for "concentration camps"? No, Beck never even said the words. Ron Paul did say the words, but did he endorse the notion? No, he threw cold water on it by saying he saw "no evidence" of it.

On the other hand, the ADL article does outline how Poplawski was a fan of conspiracy maven Alex Jones of Infowars.com and PrisonPlanet.com, the Internet's main source of such theories. Am I suggesting Jones is to blame? NO! To my knowledge, Jones has never advocated his listeners assassinating police officers responding to a dispute over where a dog does his business!

None of this would be a surprise to you, Mr. Willis, if you weren't so dedicated to "truthiness" rather than truth. But you weren't interested in really examining the ADL's assertion. You weren't even interested in the more significant charges in the ADL piece regarding Poplawski's white supremacist views, his rabid hatred of Hispanics, Jews, Asians and Blacks, the fact he was dishonorably discharged from the Marines, his frequenting the neo-Nazi Stormfront website, that he allegedly didn't like the fact Jones' crowd didn't lay enough blame on Zionists, or the paranoia that made him advise white people he met at supermarkets to stock up on canned food. You just breezily ignored the ADL piece's bullet points, which mentioned neither Beck nor Paul. You instead took a 1,252-word article detailing a murderous bigot's multiple phobias and looked for any kernel to extract from Poplawski's bloody legacy that would allow you to place false blame on the mainstream right. You, in effect, strained the gnat and swallowed the camel. Unfortunately, the ADL's sloppy research allowed you to do that, thus your misleading headline, "Pittsburgh Killer Richard Poplawski Used Glenn Beck Videos."

Willis, I had never heard of you until I was alerted to your nonsense by other blogs. I knew what type of person you had to be to demagogue the crimes of Poplawski and the deaths of the officers. But that's just the half of it; after reviewing the ADL link, it's apparent you think your readers are idiots, and will accept what you say just because it's what they want to believe without checking for themselves. And clearly, many of your readers ARE idiots.

Had I known going in you worked for Media Matters for America -- an organization that thrives on disingenuity and deliberate displays of false context -- I would have expected that. Now I know exactly what you are. And so does everybody reading this comment.

Nice try.

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