Do Words Matter? – Fox’s Coverage of Gabrielle Giffords

Since news of Gabrielle Giffords stepping down as congresswoman, Tea Party supporters have reintroduced complaints that the left smeared them after her assassination attempt that left 9 dead. Like they did in the hours and weeks after Giffords’s shooting, they are still trying to end the discussion about whether or not violent rhetoric has a place in our politics. This is a repost from that time, examining whether or not Fox News viewers repeat do, in fact, repeat what commentators say.

Does it matter what media pundits and political leaders say? Fox News appears to have launched a campaign to stop or shame anyone who asks this important question:

Did the atmosphere of fear, hatred, need for revolution, or comments and images normalizing violence in politics contribute to the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords?

Could it contribute to violence in the future?

This commenter believes the left is just taking cheap shots.

Just like Fox News said:

(screen grab from

Some pundits who have blazed the trail on upping the ante in politics have said, “No, of course not! They’re just words! You can’t blame words! They were obvious allegories that only a psychopath would misinterpret! ……The left did it, too!!”

Comments from Glenn Beck’s facebook announcement of this may paint a different story.

Yesterday, Glenn Beck issued a “challenge” for those on both sides to denounce violence on all sides–in short, made an attempt to equivocate his and other right-wingers’ history of promoting fear and creating an atmosphere of life & death out of issues that…just aren’t about life and death. One might have hope that Beck would tone down his words in the future, but he maintains that he will continue questioning “And let the chips fall where they may.”

This may be a testament to the fact that once ideas are planted, they are much more difficult to uproot:

Topics: Revolution, Religion, Enemies, Logic

Glenn Beck: “The revolution has begun.” Dec. 9, 2010 ((video))

“If I were going to take over the country, how would I enslave the American people.” (On bailouts, healthcare, welfare, education, etc.) (video)

Beck: “We surround the nutjobs on the fringe.”

And at least one commentator classed it up by talking about the proverbial tree of liberty being “watered”–even with the blood of innocent 9-year-old Christina Green.

Beck Blames Atheism for America’s Problems:

Youtube: Glenn Beck Blames Atheists for America’s Problems

Youtube: Glenn Beck Upset about Media Coverage of Atheist Story

Upon questioning, he explained:

Blaming Beck’s “usual suspects” Van Jones and Obama.

Glenn Beck “logic” pervades viewers:

Do people watch Glenn Beck and then go on shooting sprees? Probably not.

Do they hear Sharon Angle talk about “Second Amendment Remedies” and plot to assassinate leaders?

Do people who really believe what Glenn Beck says live in a bubble of fear, irrationality, and conflict? See above comments.

Whatever your political persuasion, this is the wake-up call. Enough is enough. Do not support violent rhetoric. Do not support fearmongering. Do not support hate. Do not support misinformation.

Every American has a duty to correct lies with the truth. Every American has the responsibility to call out radicals and radical speech for what they are.

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K. Mason

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01 2012