Bill O'Reilly (Fox News)

Fox News can't bear the truth: Right-wing terror groups are America's gravest threat

The numbers don't lie. Since 9/11, more Americans have died at the hands of white supremacists than radical Muslims


Eric Boehlert
July 5, 2015 4:00PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on Media Matters.

The numbers don't lie.

Since 9/11, more Americans have died at the hands of homegrown "white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims," the New York Times reported this week. Citing a count provided by Washington research center New America, the Times confirmed that with the race-base mass murder in Charleston, S.C. last week, 48 Americans have now been killed by "people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the 'sovereign citizen' movement," as compared to 26 Americans who have been killed by "self-proclaimed jihadists."

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Those figures might come as a surprise to most Americans. Indeed, the media narrative since 9/11, and certainly the conservative media account, has been that Jihadists are waging an escalating war on the U.S. By contrast, how often in recent years have news consumers seen or heard extended debate and discussions about right-wing or white supremacists killers in the U.S.? Killers who appear to be twice as deadly to Americans as jihadists?

"There's an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown," Dr. John Horgan of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell told the Times. "And there's a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated."

The New America research findings confirm what Media Matters has been highlighting for years: From neo-Nazis killers, to a rash of women's health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government radicals, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

And Media Matters has also been shining a spotlight on the fact that not only does Fox News downplay homegrown acts of right-wing, anti-government and white supremacist violence, treating them as rogue, isolated events (if covering the events at all), they also hype beyond proportion and common sense attacks by Muslims in America.

That attack mode allows Fox to accuse President Obama of being "soft" on Islamic terror. (Obama's administration is too "politically correct.") It also lets Fox advocate for bugging mosques and eliminatingother Constitutional rights. Recall that it was on Fox that viewers were told, "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

Right-wing violence? Fox News doesn't recognize a clear and present danger.

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That double standard was on display this week when Megyn Kelly devoted almost her entire Fox News program Wednesday night to an interview with Traci Johnson, who was attacked last year by a co-worker at Vaughan Foods processing plant in Moore, Oklahoma. The attacker was Alton Nolen who had been recently been fired over racial comments. Nolen then went home and retrieved a large kitchen knife. He returned to the workplace and began attacking his former co-workers. He beheaded one woman and injured Johnson before he was shot by a company official. Nolen later confessed to the attack.

Fox News immediately led the right-wing charge to declare the Vaughan Foods attack to be an act of ISIS-like terror. (Nolen was a recent convert to Islam.) Devoting an extraordinary amount of TV time to wildly hyping the crime, Fox hosts like Kelly and Sean Hannity created special programming to cover the story. (i.e. "Terror In The Heartland.")

But in the end, law enforcement found no evidence that Alton's killing was terror-related, and labeled the killing a workplace attack. Appearing on Fox News after the attack, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that, while Nolen "was looking at the extremist ideology," "there is no evidence at this point that he was directed by a terrorist organization to do what he did or that that was the principle motivating factor." The FBI also found no links to terrorism.

Yet there was Kelly this week - months after the crimes -- speaking over ominous background music and once again suggesting the Moore, Oklahoma attack had been the product of "radicalized" terror. In other words, Fox has been reduced to creating incidents of Islamic terror in the United States, while at the same time Fox plays down glaring examples of deadly right-wing violence.

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The steady pattern of those political attacks may be one reason the Department of Homeland Security this yearissued an intelligence report warning about the rising right-wing terror threat. Fox News immediately objected, with host Eric Bolling insisting there hadn't been any recent examples of homegrown terror to justify the government's warning. Co-host Greg Gutfeld agreed, claiming liberals can only name two far-right terrorist events "over four decades."

Seriously?

On a September night last year, 31-year-old marksman and "survivalist" Eric Frein ambushed two Pennsylvania state troopers outside of the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. After the assassination, the state police commissioner reported the shooter had "made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and to commit mass acts of murder." Another official noted the shooter has a "longstanding grudge against law enforcement and government in general."

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Claiming to be acting under the bloody "banner of Liberty and Truth," Jerad Miller and his wife Amanda entered a restaurant Las Vegas in June, 2014 and executed two local policemen while they ate lunch. During the ambush, one of the shooters reportedly shouted that the "revolution" had begun. A week before the killings, the shooters posted a manifesto on Facebook where they announced "....we must prepare for war." Jerad Miller, who traveled to Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch that spring to join the militia protests against the federal government, declared: "To stop this oppression, I fear, can only be accomplished with bloodshed."

The ambush in Las Vegas came just two days after Dennis Marx, a member of the "sovereign citizen" anti-government movement, opened fire on 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.

On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page pulled up outside the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI,  and started killing worshipers. Page murdered two Sikhs outside the house of worship and then killed four more inside, including the president of the temple. According to acquaintances, the 40-year-old killer hated blacks, Indians, Native Americans and Hispanics, and was interested in joining the Klu Klux Klan.

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On May 20, 2010, two West Memphis, Ark., police officers were shot and killed by a father-son team of AK-47-wielding sovereign citizens during a routine traffic stop.

Two months later, dedicated Glenn Beck fan Byron Williams stocked a pickup truck with guns and ammo and set off up the California coast to San Francisco in order to start killing employees at the Tides Foundation in hopes of sparking a political revolution. En route to his target, Williams got into a 12-minute firefight with California Highway Patrol officers.

The shocking list goes on and on and on. Sadly, the church massacre in Charleston now ranks alongside a litany of homegrown radical attacks. They're the type of attacks Fox News doesn't want to focus on.


Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

MORE FROM Eric Boehlert

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