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


Interesting reading that highlights the selective nature of FoxNews from the folks at Media Matters for America

Alton Nolen

Alton Nolen

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 ofIslamophobia 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.

Eric Frein

Eric Frein

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 towards 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. (The friend did not give his last name.) “No indications of really any malice towards 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 murdered 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 murderous streak.

There’s simply 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 clinicbombings 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.

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The Dance of Denial


It has been very revealing watching members of the Right deny the responsibility of their ideology for two tragic murders that have recently occured which captured the attention of the Nation.  First came the cold blooded slaughter of an abortionist, Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas followed up shortly by the brutal killing of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC of all places.

Dr. Tiller’s death is troubling because he had been the target of anti-abortionists’ rage before and even the person charged with his murder had been known to stalk and even vandalize  the clinic where Tiller worked in the days preceeding his death.  Several people in the clinic have gone on record saying they knew about Scott Roeder’s attempts at disrupting the operation of the clinic and notified the proper authorities yet nothing was done to apprehend Roeder and possibly prevent Dr. Tiller’s death.  Such ineptness on the park of the federal beaucracy does not mean that even more layers of government are necessary to protect the citizens but rather irresponsible civil servants need to be replaced with more diligent and efficient ones.

The death of Stephen Jones at the National Holocaust Museum at the hands of a white supremacist is a tragedy underscored by the fact this murderer had a long history, easily documented that could possibly point to such a heinious crime being committed by his hand, age notwithstanding, yet he very easily walked down a metropolitan city street with a .22 caliber rifle and shot and killed an armed federal agent.  The reason why I mention again both of these crimes is because of the contortions those on the right are taking to distance their ideology from these two men who claimed to hold that ideology near and dear to them.   Political pundits are taking great lengths to say that these murderes aren’t from the right at all but rather from the left of the political spectrum, despite the fact they, the perpetrators clearly identify with the Right.  Punditry has managed to make actions a mark of political persuasion and not words and have told their admirers that death and killing are marks of the political left, terrorism marks of Muslims,  while the opposition the Right makes to anything is noble and necessary to save America from its enemies.

This was the kind of meme advanced by Dick Cheney, more recently, and the entire Bush administration before which reduced all argument to ‘with us or against us’ sloganeering.  In that small universe built by the likes of the triumphant Right there was nothing that we did to  those ‘against us’ that could be considered illegal or immoral behavior.   The concept of “exceptionalism” had been developed to the point that meant even the boundaries of legality didn’t apply to us or we made every attempt to legalize illegal behavior in order to legitimize our unlawful actions.  It was a vicious circle we continue to traverse by denying the rational of these latest criminals for their criminal behavior.

News accounts and political pundits have taken great pains to classify these murderers as lone gunmen who are completely separate and detached from the environment which they have enveloped themselves.  By doing so they hope to further distance themselves from the effect their rhetoric has on the people who listen to and subscribe to it.

In our system of law as it pertains to capital crimes unless there is a conspiracy there is no guilt by association. Conversely there is also no innocence by association. Christian leaders and conservative citizens in general have jumped at the chance to label Mr. Roeder a vigilante, a monster and things far worse.

Regrettably this tactic is only applied to members of the right who spent an entire two terms of a right leaning Republican administration to paint with the broadest of brushes entire groups of people based on the actions of individual(s).  This has been a common practice of demagoguery; the politics of the many condensed into the actions of the lone individual.  Cries of bombing the institutions that are symbolic of political ideology have given way to the absolute negation of ideology and their import on an individual’s actions.   Murderers on the right have suddenly appeared on our political landscape and killed their perceived foes because they were inherently defective and acting completely on their own, while the last eights years of a Republican administration were spent literally trying to root out whole communities of conspirators who lurked in every corner of our country waiting for a chance to reap their collective death and destruction at the earliest possible moment on an unsuspecting public that need the invasive protection of a government bureaucracy.

Finally the absence in many cases of condemnation from the progenitors of rightist motivation for such murderous tendencies is another characteristic of the sudden revisionism going on in Obama’s America.  During the Bush years people were always challenged to condemn the acts of coreligionist or fellow ideologues, today’s America sees there is no need for condemnation because such acts rarely accomplish anything and not worth the time spent doing so.

Condemning Roeder doesn’t add anything to the pro-life cause. Pro-abortionists are always quick to remind the Christians of Christ’s rule of not judging or condemning. Why add fuel to the fire by condemning Mr. Roeder, isn’t it just a matter of six of one and a half dozen of the other? Both Tiller and Roeder have One that will be their final judge and he is neither hot under the collar, biased or partial. Why don’t we leave all that to Him?

In many ways such ideas mirror the current glossing over done by the Obama administration vis-a-vis Bush Administration crimes of torture and violations of the US constitution and are entirely motivated by groups’ needs to absolve themselves of responsibilty for actions of the past or the future.

The War On Terror Underscores Big Government Inefficiency


All the fear mongering and brutal imagery of war and terrorism aren’t enough to overshadow the fact that this war is as much a plague on the national identity of America as terrorism itself and the government has hindered not helped nor made safer the public it claims it wants to safeguard.  The recent statistics bear that out; with regards to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, only 15%………15% have withstood the habeas corpus guidelines and remained imprisoned…the remaining 85% have been set free, many times by George W. Bush appointed judges who followed the rule of law and not the whimsical desires of their mentor, a public figure drunk with power and image.  So why do we settle for such inefficiency from our government?  Why do we continue to insist the state pursue a course of action which yields only a bare minimum of results for the price we as a society have had to pay?

Even now we are still arguing whether the “enhanced interrogation” methods of the CIA yielded any actionable intelligence, trusting the word of a bygone administration that has continued to lie about its role in this phony war.  All those on the right clamoring for a restoration of government, should also ask for a restoration of the Law and ask why is the government in times of economic difficulty spending countless amounts of money for enforcements that can’t stand the test of the law?  Does the economic expenditure of a Guantanamo Bay which has perhaps even less than 15% of real terrorist inmates, worth the money it costs the US taxpayer at anytime, but especially now?  Is this what we demand and expect from government, that they run on only 15% efficiency?  Are the continued renditions of prisoner away from the scrutiny of an American judicial system we claim to love, honor, support and fight for worth the emotional, moral and financial price we pay for as a country? Do we still claim to assert that acts of violence against people we detained are not torture and therefore not illegal, when there are other indisputable acts of sound law enforcement and military training which yield better, more actionable results?    Glenn Greenwald in a very good piece on the propensity of some in government to support torture mentions this rather eloquent quote from Thomas Paine which should be noted here.

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Agenda driven politics at the expense of human misery


pistolI knew it wouldn’t take long before the hue and cry for some type of government control on citizen behavior would start, led of course by a compliant mainstream media, and so it has with the issue of gun control.  Excuse me while I  gloat and say I told you this would happen when we embarked on our outrageous WOT  and our discrimination against Muslims the world over because particularly some segments of American society wanted to settle a centuries old feud with their Muslim cousins/brothers. It was easy to use 911 to incite passions against a targeted group of people, just as it probably, over time, will be easy to inflame the public for more “gun control” as MSM focuses on those occasions in social interaction where some people just loose their handle on reality and go crazy.  Why don’t we have a war on mental illness or on human insanity, or better yet, a war on evil, which is colorless, stateless and sexless.  But the latter is just the reason why we don’t wage such wars; they are not sexy enough, not divisive enough to sustain and so we suffer at the hands of kooks who commit crimes and kooks who profit from the commission of crimes who go on to advance their own political agendas.   Outrageous crimes of passion, murder and mayhem course through the veins of humanity and date back to the beginning of time and Cain and Able, or further. None of us are immune from this genetic imprint on our behavior; the rule of Law is what keeps some of us in line more than others of us, but even when that doesn’t work, the punishment of the law equally applied to all lawbreakers should.  Of course, there is a group of people, notably lawyers, whose job it is to make sure that doesn’t always happen.  They too are agenda driven, but humanity has been smart enough to erect, over time, a legal system capable of  dealing with almost any human transaction that insures social cohesion and the continuation of the species.  Piling on that system of laws, as has happened at the proclamation of every other War we have waged,  is draconian at best, oppressive at worse, and not the role of government.

The bestiality of the Israeli government


MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSpalevictimTit for tat?  (On the left an Israeli building hit by Palestinians “rockets”; on the right a Palestinian building hit by Israeli fire.)  The Israeli government launched an attack during the Christmas season which was designed to insure there would be no peace on earth, or goodwill towards Palestinians.  Using the false pretense that the Palestinian firing of rockets was unprovoked and therefore an Israeli response was necessary, the bombardment of the Gaza strip is no less than genocide against a defenseless civilian population.

What else can  you expect from a government whose leaders had publicly made such statements as Gazans should not be allowed to “live normal lives (Ehud Olmert) or that  punishment should be inflicted “irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians” (Avi Dichter) or that Israel should “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it” (Meir Sheetrit) the intent of this latest act of murder is to inflict the maximum amount of casualties possible.  Some bloggers have even gone on to suggest that the lifting of the embargo by the Israelis was designed to offer them a window to kill the most number of civilians gathered to collect foodstuffs denied them by the Israelis for so long, but whatever the motive, the means were the use of the best military weaponry the state of Israel can finagle from America in their extermination of Palestinians.

Israel decided on a collective punishment policy after the Hamas electoral victory in ’07, and part of that punishment was in the form of the blockade which denied the Gaza Strip even the barest of essentials, electricity and food.  They did so while thumbing their noses at an international community which sought to chronicle Israel’s abuses.  The flagrant and exaggerated expulsion of Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories is just one example among many where the Israelis have ignored the “rule of law” and internationally recognized conventions while continuing to oppress the Palestinian civilian population.

As always, the Israelis blame their victim for Israeli transgressions, saying that recent rocket attacks at the end of the ceasefire are responsible for this latest Israeli slaughter.  And while large numbers of rocket attacks are thrown at the public in order to justify Israeli aggression, lost in the argument is that these Palestinian “rockets” are ineffective, inaccurate (only one Israeli casualty  since Palestinians started firing the rockets after the ceasefire) and essentially home-made munitions. What the Israelis have done however to get around the disproportionate nature of their aggression is to return to collectivism of the Palestinian population, equating all within the borders of Gaza as terrorist and therefore subject to elimination, no questions asked.

This latest Israeli atrocity occurs in plain sight before the world stage and yet Hamas and by extension the Palestinians are responsible.  In the light of such global response the likelihood Israel will stop such unparalleled genocide is nil.  Countless deaths will be exacted before the Israelis stop this latest slaughter and resume their obfuscation of Palestinian statehood and peace in the Middle East.  By accepting their line of reasoning, the US is also a willing and active participant in this bloodshed.  One can now see the reason behind the Bush Administration’s abandonment of international law in its treatment of people captured during the phony WOT; accepting the link between themselves and their ally Israel means the only way to escape international illegality is to propose it doesn’t accept the terms of what’s legal and illegal.  Therefore it’s necessary to call such actions as the Israeli attack on Gaza bestial, inhumane, psychopathic, sociopathic, murderous, because in a nation where laws are no longer adhered to, legal and illegal have no meaning.  That seems to be acceptable to the Israeli government and the rest of the world.

UPDATE I

Not even Israelis seem to take the firing of rockets by Palestinians seriously. Take the tone of this article (Latest Gaza Rockets Injure More Arab Children than Jews) which appears in an Israeli newspaper.  It refers to the rockets used by the Palestinians as ‘locally produced rockets’, meaning internal, meaning made in Gaza, meaning at the very most, crude, (We’ve spoken of the ineffective nature of such munitions.)  yet in the Israeli scheme of looking at things they justify the killing of scores of people; a culture of death brought to us by the party of death.

UPDATE II

Not that there’s anything new about this, but assertions by the Israelis that their attack was in response to alleged ceasefire breakdowns, or violations on the part of Hamas to the expired ceasefire are not true, according to this piece from Haaretz.

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas…..

The expression in the above link to “misleading of the public” is ironic and a common feature of the Israeli government.