Playing with (FOX)fire

The FOX television network and the Republican Party were major promoters of the €œTea Parties € that were held around the nation on April 15. These events, which were promoted as protests against tax policies, seem to have turned into a foul mix of anti-Obama and anti-government diatribes.

According to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, here in Washington, D.C., demonstrators carried signs with such slogans as €œThe Audacity of the Dope, € €œOne Big Awful Mistake America, € €œNapolitano-Obama €™s Gestapo Queen, € €œObama Bin Lyin € and €œHey Big Brother: Show us Your Real Birth Certificate. €

While such verbal assaults on the President and/or the government are fully within bounds of political dissent-and can even be clever-many of the things said at the various events bordered on incitement to insurrection. At a rally in Austin, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that Texans might at some point get so fed up they would secede from the Union. Here in the District, radio talk show host Mike Church treated the crowd to a mock fascist salute and said that €œIt €™s time to have a little revolution, I think. We don €™t have to fire weapons. You should own them, you should have a lot of ammo to go with them, but you don €™t have to shoot them. € €œUnless we have to! € someone yelled back.

My esteemed colleague, CSGV Executive Director Josh Horwitz, is publishing an exciting new book on this topic next month, €œGuns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea. € He also has a marvelous new blog on the Huffington Post, €œInsurrection Goes €˜Mainstream. €™ €

The blog focuses on the role of national news media outlets in promoting insurrection. In addition to the endless promotion of the €œTea Parties € on all of FOX €™s €œFair & Balanced € programs, Fox News personalities Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and Tobin Smith were among the featured speakers at various Tea Party sites. Smith even began his presentation at the District of Columbia event by saying €œOn behalf of the Fox News Channel, I want to say welcome to the Comedy Channel of America, Washington, D.C. € He ended his speech by exhorting the audience to €œKeep watching FOX, will you? €

I cannot help but wonder if the Fox News Channel-in its relentless and forceful denigration of our current government-is not playing with fire.

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