It’s not fair to blame Beck for violence committed by people who watch his show.
This tiny journalistic fig leaf appears midway through Dana Milbank’s latest article for the Washington Post. The remainder of Milbank’s 750-word piece is devoted to blaming Glenn Beck for violence committed by those who watch his show. Or, more specifically, the violence of two specific men who had watched Beck’s show.
The first is Byron Williams, a two-time felon who was on parole, out of work, and living with his mother. Two weeks ago, Williams was stopped by police en route to “start a revolution” by killing members of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation in San Francisco. We don’t know where Williams heard about the Tides foundation, but based on an interview with William’s mother, Milbank implicates Beck. Of course this is, at best, guilt by televised association. Glenn Beck has never met Williams or encouraged him or anyone else to take up arms against the Tides Foundation (or anyone else).
Advertisement – story continues below
And this turns out to be Milbank’s best argument. When he tries to offer the proverbial 2nd point required to draw a line, he blows it completely:
In April 2009, a man allegedly armed with an AK-47, a .22-caliber rifle and a handgun was charged with killing three cops in Pittsburgh. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the accused killer had, as part of a pattern of activities involving far-right conspiracy theories, posted a link on a neo-Nazi Web site to a video of Beck talking about the possibility that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was operating concentration camps in Wyoming. The killings came after Beck told Fox viewers that he “can’t debunk” the notion that FEMA was operating such camps — but before he finally acknowledged that the conspiracy wasn’t real.
Read More: by John Sexton, Big Journalism