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“A Cop Killing And A Beheading”: How Fox News Picks And Chooses Its “Terrorism” Targets

Fox News is increasingly fixating on the gruesome workplace beheading last week in Moore, Oklahoma, by a recent Muslim convert, suspect Alton Nolen. Perhaps sensing a way to once again fan its patented flames of Islamophobia while simultaneously blaming President Obama for being indifferent to the threat of terrorism, Fox is treating the murder as a national story with sweeping political implications.

Sounding the jihadist alarms, Fox News and the right-wing media are eager to label the ghastly crime an act of Islamic terror. Law enforcement officials, however, aren’t in the same rush, noting that the attack came immediately after Nolen was fired and stating that they’ve yet to find a link to terrorism. While that story continues to play out, it’s worth noting that an actual act of political terror remains in the news. It’s just not a priority for Fox.

On the night of September 16, 31-year-old marksman Eric Frein was allegedly laying in wait outside the Blooming Grove police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, preparing to assassinate state troopers. Shortly before 11 p.m., Bryon Dickson was shot and killed as he walked toward his patrol car. Moments later, as he approached the barracks to begin his overnight shift, trooper Alex Douglass was shot and seriously wounded by a bullet fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

Described as a “survivalist,” Frein disappeared into the Poconos Mountains woods, where he’s been hiding ever since, eluding law enforcement and its massive manhunt, which includes hundreds of law enforcement officers with assistance from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Considered “extremely dangerous” and possibly armed with an AK-47, officials were forced to close local schools in fear Frein might attack again. Lots of businesses in the area were ordered to stay dark, and some U.S. mail deliveries were suspended out of fear postmen might be exposed as possible targets for the shooter.

And what was the possible motivation for the killing spree?

“He made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and to commit mass acts of murder,” state police commissioner Frank Noonan warned the public at the time. Another official noted the shooter has a “longstanding grudge against law enforcement and government in general” dating back to at least 2006.

A friend was even more explicit. “He was obviously a big critic of the federal government,” a friend name Jack told CNN. (Jack did not give his last name.) “No indications of really any malice toward law enforcement in particular. Most of his aggression was (toward) the federal government.”

Sounds like homegrown, anti-government terrorism, right?

“We have a well-trained sniper who hates authority, hates society, hates government, and hates cops enough to plug them from ambush. He’s so lethal, so locked and loaded, that communities in the Pocono Mountains feel terrorized,” wrote Philadelphia columnist Dick Poleman. “He kept camouflage face paint in his bedroom. He toted the AK-47 on social media. He collected, according to the criminal complaint, ‘various information concerning foreign embassies.'”

But turn on Fox News and you don’t hear much about Eric Frein from the channel’s high-profile hosts. You don’t hear much about the anti-government zealot who killed a cop while trying to assassinate two. And you don’t hear evening hosts diving into Frein’s background trying to figure out what sparked his killing streak.

There’s simple no interest.

In two weeks since the shooting, the Fox programs monitored by Nexis have mentioned Frein’s name in just six reports, and most of those were simply news updates that consisted of one or two sentences. Only one segment, which aired on On The Record With Greta Van Susteren, featured an extended conversation about the killing and the subsequent manhunt. In none of the six Fox reports, however, were Frein’s vocal anti-government leanings mentioned, nor was there any suggestion Frein was a domestic terrorist.

Hosts Neil Cavuto, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have all ignored the shocking cop-killer story. In general, Fox has provided almost no commentary, no context, and certainly no collective blame for the execution.

By contrast, in the days since the Oklahoma killing, Fox programs monitored by Nexis have flooded the zone with coverage of the beheading, totaling hours and hours of coverage. Most of Fox’s reports offered extended, overheated commentary, and most of them dwelled on the fact the killing may have been an act of terror.

Cavuto, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Megyn Kelly have all hosted extensive coverage of the killing, with Kelly and Hannity devoting nearly their entire September 26 and September 29 programs to the Oklahoma story (“Terror In The Heartland”), allowing guests to make all kinds of unproven connections between the crime and to Islam and, of course, to politicize the tragic killing.

In other words, on Fox News a Muslim who killed a co-worker in Oklahoma and who remains in police custody represents a much bigger story than a suspected anti-government assassin who killed a cop and remains on the run, eluding hundreds of law enforcement officials while terrorizing a Pennsylvania community.

Note that one of the renewed right-wing talking point this week has been how Obama refuses to acknowledge the looming threat of Islamic terrorism. (His FBI is being “politically correct.”) Of course, a similar charge could be made of Fox News and its purposefully blind spot to homegrown, gun-toting, anti-government terrorists. It’s a deadly topic that the right-wing media refuse to grapple with.

As CNN’s Peter Bergen noted earlier this year, since 9/11, “extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology.”

If the Pennsylvania ambush was politically motivated, it represented just the latest sad chapter in a long string of recent extremist acts of violence in America. From neo-Nazi killers, to a string of women’s health clinic bombings and assaults, as well as bloody assaults on law enforcement from anti-government insurrectionists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to terrorize victims in the U.S.

Just this spring in Las Vegas, a premeditated gun rampage unfolded when Jerad Miller and his wife Amada executed two policemen who were on their lunch break. The killers, who months earlier traveled to Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch to join the militia protests against the federal government, reportedly covered the slain officers with cloth that featured the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag, which has recently been adopted as a symbol of the tea party movement.

That ambush came just two days after Dennis Marx, member of the “sovereign citizen” anti-government movement, tried to lay siege to a courthouse outside of Atlanta. Sovereign citizens are militia-like radicals who don’t believe the federal government has the power and legitimacy to enforce the law. The FBI has called the movement “a growing domestic terror threat to law enforcement.”

As mentioned, Greta Van Susteren was the only evening Fox host who addressed the Pennsylvania cop-killing story in any detail. But even she whitewashed the story, omitting any mention of Frein’s anti-government bias and his clear embrace of terrorism. Right after the Frein segment ended on her September 22 program, Van Susteren urged viewers to stay tuned for a report about the “nightmare” looming from the threat of jihadist fighters inside the United States.

Note to Greta: Eric Frein represents another type of “nightmare” terror that looms in America. Fox News should stop ignoring that threat.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America, September 30, 2014

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Islamophobia, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This From A Trained, Known Failure”: Rumsfeld Thinks “A Trained Ape” Could Do What Obama Can’t

Donald Rumsfeld, whose mastery of foreign policy was amply displayed in Iraq, thinks that “a trained ape” could have done a better job handling Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai, than President Obama and his team have. The problem, Rumsfeld told Greta Van Susteren, of Fox, on Monday night, is that Obama has not been deferential enough to Karzai: “The President has been unpleasant to him.” His entire Administration has dealt with Karzai “repeatedly and publicly in an abusive, unpleasant manner.” Is that perhaps what Rumsfeld considers untrained?

What is it about Obama that bothers people like Rumsfeld? He might ask himself, for a moment, why the idea of Obama—the President of the United States—speaking out of turn bothers him so much, and why the word “ape” sprung to mind. Rumsfeld worked for George W. Bush, who made something of a fetish out of talking like a cowboy; he spent a lot of time in office trying to out-preen Dick Cheney; and yet he just doesn’t like Obama’s tone. What’s particularly odd is that Van Susteren was asking Rumsfeld about, of all things, Karzai’s statement of support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (Rumsfeld called it “understandable.”) Haven’t we been hearing from Republicans that Obama is too passive when it comes to Ukraine—that he’s too pleasant with Putin, and doesn’t talk tough in the way that they imagine they would? Just a few weeks ago, Rumsfeld told Van Susteren that “it is U.S. weakness that has shaken the world.” He has also railed against the President’s supposed “apologies” for America.

Van Susteren asked Rumsfeld why it was so hard to get Karzai to sign a status-of-forces agreement—a memorandum that would clarify the legal position of American troops in Afghanistan. Karzai has withheld his agreement for months, despite warnings that it won’t be possible to keep even a residual American force in Afghanistan without one, and despite the approval of Afghanistan’s loya jirga. (He may want to insure he has a card to play after the upcoming Presidential elections.) Rumsfeld scoffed at the idea that Karzai had been difficult—this is where he talked about how “a trained ape can get a status-of-forces agreement. It does not take a genius.”

By that, perhaps, Rumsfeld meant that it does not take a genius to put American troops in another country. Indeed, it does not—Rumsfeld proved that himself, by getting our forces over to Iraq. The hard part can be getting them out.

“I realize these are tough jobs, being President or Secretary of State. But, by golly, they have trashed Karzai publicly over and over and over,” Rumsfeld said. This when Karzai had been so “friendly” during the Bush Administration; under Obama, it had all “gone downhill like a toboggan.” And so, as far as Rumsfeld is concerned, Karzai, a man whose country was invaded by the Soviet Union, was left “feeling he has to defend himself” against a United States government now in the process of withdrawing from his territory by supporting Russia’s invasion of a third country. And, Rumsfeld said, “I personally sympathize with him.” The Obama Administration has certainly made mistakes in Afghanistan, but the most questionable moves, like doubling down on troop levels early on, have tended to be hawkish—and, Rumsfeld style, they didn’t really work. A bitterness toward Obama that would be rich enough to evoke Rumsfeldian warmth toward aspiring Russian proxies is quite a thing. (It seems likely that Karzai is hoping that Putin can be a source of replacement cash, a process that has already begun.)

Rumsfeld may be right that it’s easier than it looks to make Karzai happy, as long as one doesn’t mind losing a good deal of taxpayer money to Afghan graft, and American lives in opaque standoffs in villages where we have no idea who is paying whom for a drug route or a piece of a construction project two provinces over. When Van Susteren suggested that Karzai’s support for Putin on Crimea was “a poke in the eye” to the Americans who had fought and died in Afghanistan to keep his government safe, Rumsfeld brushed her off. Karzai, he said, might have conveyed “his extreme anger” to the American government, but “he also said to the American people give them my best wishes and my gratitude.” How very pleasant of him.

 

By: Amy Davidson, The New Yorker, March 25, 2014

March 30, 2014 Posted by | Afghanistan, Donald Rumsfeld | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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