ACTION: Quarantine Fox News Channel

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Here are some highlights from the transcript:

Finally tonight, our number one story, and the very serious, very unsettling part the Fox News Channel played in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. The horrifying realization that a television figure can be a facilitator for domestic terrorism. This was under-scored, proved even today, when a man named Frank Schaeffer wrote for the “Huffington Post” that as a former member of the anti-abortion activist far right, he believes he, quote, “shares the blame for the murder of Dr. Tiller.” As we believe here does Fox News Channel.

Schaeffer followed his father, Francis, an Evangelist into the field, each writing books. His father‘s was called “A Christian Manifesto.” “In certain passages, he advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler‘s Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. Like many writers of moral, political and religious theories, my father and I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, walked into a Lutheran church and pulled the trigger on an abortionist. But even if the murderer never read dad‘s or my words, we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.”

Of course, in this case, the murderer clearly heard the words from Fox News Channel, or in the most benign of constructions, read the words of those who had heard the words from Fox News Channel. There‘s a comment thread from the Operation Rescue website from April and May 2007. I‘m not implying these other posters had a hand in this. These are merely comments from readers about an anti-Tiller prayer event in Wichita.

It begins with a post from April 6, asking, “has Bill O‘Reilly been invited to any of the Tiller events? If so, what has been his reply? Has Fox News covered any of the events?”

There are two subsequent answers echoing the invitation. Then there is the ninth post from May 19, 2007, which reads “bleass,” misspelled, “everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.” That was posted by Scott Roeder. Scott Roeder is the name of the suspected terrorist arrested yesterday for assassinating Dr. George Tiller.

For four years, on at least 28 occasions, that‘s what was said on Fox News Channel. Nazism, al Qaeda, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Stalin, baby killing pedophilia, Tiller the baby killer, again and again and again. And tonight, confronted with the inevitable result of the instigation, the principal perpetrator at Fox News Channel made no acknowledgement of culpability, nor even regret.

He said, “no back pedaling here. I report honesty. Everything we said about Tiller was true and my analysis was based on those facts. It is clear that the far left is exploiting the death of the doctor. Those vicious individuals want to stifle any criticism of people like Tiller. That and hating Fox News is the real agenda here. If these people were so compassionate, so very compassionate, so concerned for the rights and welfare of others, maybe they might have written something on things about the 60,000 fetuses who will never become American citizens.”

It is useless to urge restraint on men who believe self-editing of freedom of speech should apply only to others, that they are flawless and blameless and righteous. It is useless to make Frank Schaeffer‘s argument to them, even though they have made parallel ones about how liberal television degrades children, about how liberal television hypnotizes voters, about liberal entertainment destroys American values.

When they reply not in this case, bad apple, TV can‘t make that happen, it is useless to say, if TV can‘t make something happen, why do people advertise on it with the same commercial again and again and again, in hopes of making buzzwords sink in? Like Geico Gecko, Viva Viagra,, Tiller the Baby Killer.

So what to do? Viewer boycotts mean little. You are already here. You are not watching Fox News Channel. Advertiser boycotts are also of limited value. Most make barely a dent in a company. Besides which, in this economy, an advertiser that found its sales boosted by association with malaria would start breeding mosquitoes.

If there is a solution, it is perhaps an indirect boycott. It is probably your experience, as it has been mine, that stores, bars, restaurants, waiting rooms often show Fox News on their televisions. Don‘t write a letter, don‘t make a threat, just get up and explain, if they will not change the channel, leave the place and say calmly why it is you are taking your business elsewhere. If you know a viewer of that channel, show them this tape, or just the tape of the attacks on Dr. Tiller that set the stage for his assassination.

Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism, not until its profits begin to decline, when its growth stops. So not so much a boycott here as a quarantine, because this has got to stop.

That I have a commercial conflict of interest here is obvious. So I‘ll make the first symbolic contribution to this quarantine. One of my pleasures, obviously, is constantly criticizing him in that Ted Baxter voice. It is the idea of laughter as a social sanction against inflexible behavior.

But this is no time for laughter. This is serious. Serious as death. As serious as George Tiller‘s death. So as of this show‘s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature. The words may still be quoted in the future as developments dictate. The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air.

We‘re only in the television news business, a profession that is at times about two inches up from carnival barking. We must again separate it, television from terrorism. And we must again make the world safe for people condemned by the Fox News Channel. --Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann
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