But many Democrats remain steadfast in the charge. One former Democratic Member blamed conservative news outlets such as Fox News and politicians such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) for inciting fear that Democrats are not merely wrong on policy but are trying to “undo America.”
“When you hear Glenn Beck say you’re subverting the will of the people, it’s hard to understand why you wouldn’t take up arms,” the former lawmaker told Roll Call.
The Democrat said such threats were “simmering” for months, but this is “the one that went fatal.”
Media Matters for America in a letter Monday challenged News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch to “rein in Fox News personalities Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, both of whom frequently use violent and revolutionary rhetoric.” The far-left-leaning group said Beck and Palin in particular stoke fear and “are two of Fox’s most recognizable figures.”
“[I]n the wake of the killings, your network must take a stand,” Media Matters founder David Brock wrote.
Indeed, Palin bore the brunt of the criticism over the weekend largely because of her web page, since taken down, that listed Democrats she hoped to see defeated in 2010 and identified their districts using rifle-scope crosshairs. Giffords’ district was among those listed, and Palin had urged her supporters on by saying, “Don’t retreat, instead — RELOAD.”
The backlash against Palin prompted Beck to read radio listeners a personal e-mail exchange with the former Alaska governor. Beck wrote to Palin that she must be feeling the “same heat, if not much more on this.”
“Please look into protection for your family. An attempt on you could bring the republic down,” Beck told Palin in the e-mail.
He continued reading from his message: “There are nut jobs on all sides. ... Terror is terror. I don’t care if it’s for Allah or your party. You are not a freedom fighter, but a killer. ... It’s time for politics to stop and sanity to begin.”
According to Beck, Palin responded to him: “I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love.”
Limbaugh and other conservatives seized on statements from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat who linked the attack to extreme political rhetoric in the media.
On Sunday, Dupnik called Arizona the “tombstone of the United States” for its lax gun laws and blasted “the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates.”
“To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with,” Dupnik said, without targeting any specific political ideologies or media outlets.
Limbaugh laughed as he told listeners about Dupnik’s party registration. “He wants to tell people he’s nonpartisan,” he said.
For his part, Beck said he wasn’t interested in partisan bickering.