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Juan Williams Alludes to Sarah Palin As One of the "Fringe Elements" of the Tea Party Movement

Reported by Julie - April 4, 2010 -

When Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson hosted conservative Jim Pinkerton, columnist Cal Thomas, Juan Williams (who did a nice bit of pushing back), and Fox News contributor Judy Miller on Fox News Watch (4/3/10), what started out as a discussion about the recent attacks on Democrats who voted for healthcare reform -- and the appropriate blame that has been placed by many in the media and blogosphere on the tea party movement and Fox News' Sarah Palin -- somehow began with a discussion by Pinkerton about the country's disapproval of healthcare reform in general, reinforcing a right-wing theme that the attacks on Democrats were either overinflated or somehow justified because people don't like the new healthcare reform law. Of course, Carlson had to roll the obligatory clip of Ingraham -- Fox News' battling heroine -- supposedly ripping Matt Lauer a new one over tea party/Palin incited violence, which I previously posted on. But the most telling moment in this segment came when Juan Williams was discussing the tea party movement and the "fringe elements," and cited as examples people "talking about crosshairs, don't retreat, reload, that incites . . . anger . . . ." Wow, sounds eerily similar to Facebook posts and tweets by Sarah Palin. With video.

". . . Three major polling operations," opined Pinkerton, "All showing that the majority is with Palin and against Matt Lauer, et al." Ah, so when the country doesn't like a law that's passed, anarchy is an acceptable response. Got it.

An outraged Carlson quoted from the DNC fund-raising memo which referred to the tea party people as "narrow-minded nutjobs and vile two-bit wingnuts. Are you kidding me?" Afraid not, Gretch.

"If there's a Republican president in office," Thomas sniffed disdainfully, "And liberal Democrats or people of that persuasion are demonstrating against that President, then it's patriotic and it's the price we pay for a healthy First Amendment . . . when the thing is flipped and conservatives are demonstrating against a Democrat president then it's inciting violence and it's horrible and we're all wingnuts. Double standard." Except it isn't. In the wake of 9/11, foxnews.com ran a story -- couched in vague attributions such as "some concern" and "some say" -- about anti-war protesters and used the term "un-American." Hannity has a long history of being critical of those who didn't support Bush's military invasion. Incidentally, I don't recall MSNBC essentially sponsoring anti-war protests, either, the way Fox has the tea party events.

Carlson was further outraged by "well known liberal" Bill Maher, and rolled a clip of him airing his thoughts on the tea party movement: "I thank the teabaggers . . . they're the ones who got it passed . . . I was so against the healthcare bill I marched on Washington with teabags hanging from my hat, dressed up in my founding fathers' costume, with a picture of Hitler, you know, and Obama's face on him . . . screaming about his birth certificate and America saw that and said, what loons, we're going with the calm black man."

Williams offered, "It's an overwhelmingly white, older crowd in the tea party . . . some of the signs that you see are the ones about Obama being a communist . . . as the Joker or Nazi, stuff that you say is repellant, just repellant . . . is that the heart and soul of the tea party? I don't believe so . . . people who think they can't trust government, that's the heart and soul of the tea party movement . . . Hang on, there are fringe elements of the tea party movement that are involved or contributing to some of the very negative rhetoric and prevalence of that rhetoric in the country today . . . threatening governors . . . cutting gas lines to a Congressman's house . . . ."

We were treated, via Carlson, to the right-wing rationalization, that Republicans were targeted too (although I'm not sure for what, since they all voted a resounding "no" on healthcare reform).

"That went both ways . . . it went both ways, Democrats and Republicans," Carlson cried, causing Williams to interrupt with, "How does it go both ways?" Carlson argued that there were threats to "both political parties," with Pinkerton pointing to one incident of "some loon" threatening to kill Eric Cantor. Juan pushed back, noting that the threat was because Cantor is Jewish, and argued, ". . . That's not related to . . . fringe elements of the Tea Party using rhetoric, talking about, you know, cross-hairs, you know, don't retreat reload, that incites . . . anger . . . ." (my emphasis) Huh, the "cross-hairs" and "don't retreat, reload" comments came from Palin -- a darling of Fox, but apparently now clearly identified by at least one of her colleagues as a "fringe" element of the tea party people.

Thomas gratuitously tossed in, "Weathermen, Black Panther Party."

"I don't think there's any way to get around what I saw on Fox News which is a person who identified himself as a tea party member using a gay slur against Barney Frank . . . a Republican Congressperson on the floor calling Bart Stupak a baby-killer . . . that's harsh language . . . ."

"There's a fair amount of harsh language on the other side, too," Pinkerton said, evidently believing that the attacks on Democrats were justified either because people didn't like the healthcare reform law in the first place (anarchy being a good thing), or because "the other side" used harsh language too (two wrongs make a right). Incidentally, unlike Williams, he forgot to mention examples of the "harsh language" he was referring to coming from the left.

I think it's important that we take a moment to get Fox News' -- and some of its contributors' and guests' -- attitude straight. Racial and gay slurs are fine as long as it's for a good reason, you know, like if a bunch of aging white people don't like a black president and the laws he manages to pass. Multiple attacks on liberals are okay, too, as long as at least one Republican becomes a target as well so they can write the attacks off as generic (sorry, Cantor, for the death threat, but consider it taking one for the team). And if the polls show the country doesn't like something the Democrats are doing, well, a violent response is what they deserve.

And me? Oh, yeah -- I'm going with the calm black man.