Right-Wing Talkers Exploiting Ft. Hood

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Over at PoliticsDaily.com, I have a column noting how right-wing TV and radio ranters have been exploiting the Fort Hood tragedy to sow division and bash political foes—while accusing liberals and Democrats of using the event to divide the nation. It’s a mind-bending development. A few examples:

* Chris Plante, a Rush-wannabe with his own radio show, says that liberals are “trying desperately to convince America” that Nidal Hasan, the presumed shooter, was “just a crazy guy who spent too much time around deployed soldiers and caught [post-traumatic stress disorder] and oh he happened to be a muslim [sic], but we should ignore that. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions.” On his show, he has repeatedly declared that Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before firing on his comrades—even though it’s not been confirmed that Hasan did so. Isn’t that a bit divisive?

* Syndicated talker Laura Ingraham also claimed it was a fact that Hasan was “screaming Allah-u-Akbar” —as she argued that Hasan had been moved to kill by his “religious fervor” (read: Muslim religious fervor).

* Sean Hannity proclaimed, “There is a chance our government knew all about” Hasan and “did nothing because nobody wanted to be called an Islamophobe.” Yet there’s no evidence of that. And given that the US government has been arresting alleged Muslim radicals in the United States and bombing Islamic jihadists in Pakistan, it seems top officials are hardly inhibited by the fear of being branded Islamophobes. Hannity has also blasted the Obama administration for not catching Hasan before his killing spree, bellowing, “What does it say about Barack Obama and our government?” Actually, it says nothing about Obama. Two terrorism task forces learned that Hasan had been in contact with a radical imam in late 2008 and subsequently did nothing, after an analyst concluded Hasan’s contacts with the imam were consistent with research he was conducting.

* Rush Limbaugh, of course, has gotten into this act. He first blamed Obama for the event, contending that Obama’s policy moves had pushed Hasan to become a killer. Then he slammed Obama for not calling the Fort Hood an act of terror.

Nothing like a national discussion based on reason and evidence, right? My column on this is drawing an unusually high number of comments. I can just imagine how calm and rational they are.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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