Bill O'Reilly is big on bemoaning the contemptible vitriol that comes from the left, even as he incessantly repeats his own presumably laudable vitriol, such as the "baby killer" epithet he attached to the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller. If O'Reilly really wanted to be fair and balanced, he might walk down to the next cubicle and check in with his Fox News colleague Shepard Smith.
While reporting on another recent hate killing, this one at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Smith went after those who questioned the recent Department of Homeland Security report on the threat of violent right-wing extremism.
Republican leaders and right-wing talk-show hosts, especially on Fox News, pressured Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to apologize for the report because, as Rush Limbaugh put it, it was "portraying standard, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al-Qaeda terrorists" (even though the word conservative was not in the report).
Many on the right argued that there was nothing to be worried about. "There are no Timothy McVeighs out there right now," said former Focus on the Family head James Dobson. O'Reilly pronounced the report "unnecessary," and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough laughed it off, saying, "Janet Napolitano is goin' nuts."
But, trying to digest the horror that had just taken place at the museum, Smith wasn't laughing. "They [Homeland Security] were warning us for a reason, not for something political or social," he said. "They saw signs, and now it has begun."
Smith added that e-mails sent to Fox had "become more and more frightening. It's not a new thing. ... It's been happening to a degree since the election." He then read an e-mail that he characterized as a "representative sample of what we get here." The e-mail said of President Obama, "I cannot stand Hussein. He is a socialist Marxist who is at a fast rate destroying this country."
Smith said: "If you're one who believes abortion is murder, at what point do you go out and kill one who performs abortions? ... If you're one who believes these types of things about the president of the United States - and I could read a hundred like this, I mean, from today. People who are so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous. ... Hate that is not based in fact, and it's ginning itself up. But more and more people are taking the extra step and taking the gun out."
Smith may be on to something. Jim David Adkisson walked into a Tennessee church last year and started shooting, killing two. He had written in his manifesto that his actions were motivated partly by Fox News contributor Bernard Goldberg, the author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.
"This was a symbolic killing," Adkisson had written. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book."
In Pittsburgh, cop killer Richard Poplawski said he feared his guns would be taken away. He had posted to a Web site a video in which Fox News' Glenn Beck advanced the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration was setting up camps to confine citizens and take away their guns.
Smith referred to "Hate that is not based in fact." If he wanted to find out where people are getting their factless hatred, he might have looked at the rest of the Fox News schedule.