The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 July 2008

Church Shootings Used To Bash Talk Radio


Websites Exploit Church Shootings For Political Gain

Are conservative talk show hosts responsible for the actions of a crazed church shooter?

Though there's no evidence his interest in the medium provided any motivation for the sickening rampage inside a Tennessee church, left-wing smear sites have spent several days attempting to tie the contents of his bookshelf to Sunday's horrific event.

Examples of this shameless exploitation are all over the Internet, with no sign of a let-up anytime soon.

Yes, Jim David Adkisson did own copies of books by Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage. In addition, Adkisson had a self-professed "hatred" for liberals.

But the Unabomber's manifesto also contained strikingly similar language to that used in Al Gore's Earth In The Balance. Does that make the former VP an accomplice as well?

And where in any of these books do the authors call for the execution of one's political foes?

That's why this is a dangerous game: tomorrow's shooting spree could just as easily be "motivated" by a dislike of conservatives, or some other perceived enemy.

Unhinged nutcases will always exist in our society, what triggers their outbursts isn't always as clear as political opportunists would like. A lot of people "hate liberals", but that doesn't mean they're going to open fire inside a church.

And yet, that didn't stop lefty smear sites from taking their cheapest possible shots:

(Firedoglake) What Do Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity And Michael Savage Have In Common?

Jim David Adkisson, the right wing terrrorist whose rampage left 2 dead and 7 wounded Knoxville, was a fan of all three.

The vitriol these three have hurled at progressives over the years is sickening. Hannity wrote a book equating liberalism with terrorism. O'Reilly invited a terrorist attack on San Francisco. And Savage accused "the homosexual mafia" of "raping our children's minds."

But these examples, as bad as they are, really don't tell the whole story. This poisonous rhetoric is spewed over our airwaves segment after segment, hour after hour, day after day. So it's really not at all surprising that people like Adkisson could be pushed over the edge.

What's surprising is it doesn't happen more often.

(MWC News) And then imagine that the Knoxville News Sentinel gives your heros credit for deranging your mind and filling you up with bizarrely misdirected rage:

"Inside the house, officers found 'Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder' by radio talk show host Michael Savage, 'Let Freedom Ring' by talk show host Sean Hannity, and 'The O'Reilly Factor,' by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly."

And what if you were then given decades behind bars, without ever a word of thanks from your heros, to think about what in the world you might have been thinking? What would your advice end up being for others in the same sort of trouble you were in?

I like to think you'd eventually recommend selling your radio and television and spending some time talking to real people.

(RJ Eskow at the Huffington Post) We all need to be thoughtful about the impact of our words. But the Right has made it their business to promote a particularly virulent brand of hatred. Would Jim Adkisson have killed without all that prompting from the vituperative chorus of the right? We'll never know. But it's looking less likely with every passing hour that he would ever have entered a church filled with children and started shooting.

If they found something I wrote in a killer's home, I'd stop what I was doing and begin some serious self-reflection. I'd write about it, consider my errors, and try to make amends. Wouldn't you? Not that censorship isn't the answer. Not every reprehensible act can be legislated away. Sometimes the most effective way to change people is to hold them accountable. That includes not only Fox News, in this case, but also CNN -- who recently gave the anchor chair to hate-speaker Glenn Beck.

Guys, it's not "entertainment" any more -- if it ever was. We need to hold those in the boardroom accountable, too. They make their money and serve their political agenda by telling hundreds of millions of people that liberal Americans are treacherous and mentally ill enemies of the state. And they use the public airwaves to do it.

If these right-wing pundits are as devout as they say they are they'll stop, think, and ask forgiveness. That goes for their corporate paymasters, too. I hope they do for their own sakes, though I don't expect it.

(At Real Clear Politics, however, Donald Douglas thinks this has gone much too far, full post at his primary site):

I put out the call this morning, perhaps idealistically, for partisans of both sides to end to the politicization of personal tragedies, with reference to Sunday's shooting tragedy at Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

It turns out that the alleged killer, Jim David Adkisson, was a fan of right-wing media personalities such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. In a four-page letter outlining his intentions, Adkisson reportedly declared not only his hatred of the "liberal movement," but also "anyone different from him." Adkisson was deeply frustrated with his employment prospects and he was divorced after a deeply troubled and potentially violent marriage.

Carol Smallwood of Alice, Texas, an acquantaince of Adkission's for 25-30 years, suggested he was facing psychological crisis:

He always had the attitude the government was trying to get him ... He's a very intelligent man but he couldn't get in the mainstream and hold a job, Smallwood said. He's not a beast. He needed help a long time ago and never got it.

More information will certainly be forthcoming throughout the week, but media reports and blogging analyses have zoomed in on Adkisson's professed hatred of liberals while ignoring his economic dislocation and his statements signaling a larger social-psychological alienation. Yet, I'd argue it's unwise to generalize from this one case, to impugn the entire conservative establishment as "out to kill" left-wingers.

Our lefty friends need to decide how far they really want to push this argument, because soon enough, future news events will not work in their favor.

Will they cry foul if the same tactic is then used against them?

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Top image: AP, lower image: J Miles Cary,


  • Brian,
    Your statements are valid, however very flawed. Much of reports on Adkisson, reflected what is in those books. Stating an opinion on what these particular hosts blather on about daily, is not exploitation. It is concern Brian. When a large part of the country witnesses this psycho open fire on a liberal leaning because he hates "liberals", our ilk was the target, our friends. Researching what influenced this thug, is evidence they need to choose their words a little more careful.

    By Blogger giles29, at 30 July, 2008 21:32  

  • Remember Sean Hannity did say
    He would DIE to stop Nancy Pelosi

    These wing nuts are sick, this is why I'm armed

    if any Hannity, Limbaugh listening wing nut goes near me, it will be the last time they shriek like a sissy "lib lib lib lib "

    radio executives should be rounded up and jailed for crimes against America

    These people are enemies of this country

    Anyone who helped push this murderous, conservative talk radio poison, deserves to be rounded up

    they arrest animal activists, but not people who orchestrated a murderous talk radio format, which is turning their half-wit audience into killers??

    They create laws to arrest protesters, communists, and people who speak up in the street

    but radio companies are allowed to sell an Anti-American talk radio format that is causing their audience to go on a Republican Jihad?

    The real terrorists are radio executives, selling their terrorism on the radio

    Clear channel is officially a terrorist organization

    We now have a problem in this country, Republican Jihadists acting out on their own Bin Laden's demands. Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Oriley and the rest are all Bin Ladens

    They are terrorists, this is an act of terrorism. Talk radio is their Bin Laden and Clear Channel, Talk radio Network, Fox etc. etc. are their Al queda network

    Conservative terrorism MUST BE STOPPED

    If you see someone listening to conservative talk radio, call authorities, they are terrorist suspects

    By Anonymous RepublicanJihad, at 31 July, 2008 09:59  

  • Brian, your timeline is pathetic.

    Unabomber was before Al Gore.

    Meanwhile, the whole "it will happen to the other side so they better watch out" argument is dumb.

    It already has happened to both sides numerous times, and every example is used by opponents for partisan purposes.

    You would be much more interesting as a "reporter" (and rather unique, too) if you actually DECRIED PARTISANSHIP instead of so blatantly subscribing to it.

    but then, you've proven over and over how addicted you are to kissing republican/conservative media ass, so I doubt there's any hope for you.

    By Anonymous TJ, at 31 July, 2008 11:01  

  • Brian, your timeline is pathetic.

    Unabomber was before Al Gore.

    TJ, the Unabomber Manifesto (Industrial Society and its Future) was published in the Washington Post in 1995. Earth in the Balance was published in 1992, three years earlier.

    And Jared (I assume it's you), if you think the talk radio format is "murderous", you must be livid at every rap station in the world...

    By Blogger Snowed In, at 31 July, 2008 15:22  

  • TODAY 8-01-08 Randi Rhodes is blaming the republicans for the Anthrax attacks. Last hour 5-6.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 August, 2008 18:52  

  • Republicans shoot people for political gain.

    By Blogger twolf1, at 02 August, 2008 10:03  

  • T Wolf 1 lies. And Republican Jihad needs to stop consuming PCP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 August, 2008 13:07  

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