ABC Tries to Tie Health Care Town Hall Protesters to Hate Groups

Brian Ross, ABC News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgABC News correspondent Brian Ross tried to connect the health care town hall protesters to hate groups on Friday’s GMA. Ross cited the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose left-wing political affiliation he omitted, and used two sound bites from the SPLC’s Mark Potok, who hyped that President Obama supposedly “triggered fears among...white people...that they are somehow losing their country.”

The ABC News correspondent led his report just after the beginning of the 7 am Eastern hour by underlining how it’s apparently been a “very ugly week as the rhetoric about the President and the threats against him have deeply worried the people who track this country’s hate groups.” After summarizing how police in Los Angeles arrested a man suffering from “mental problems” for making threats against the White House, and how the case is apparently part of a “disturbing pattern,” Ross played his first clip from Potok, who emphasized, “I don’t think that these are simply people who are mentally ill or...you know, kind of off their rockers. I think that...in a very real sense, they represent a genuine reaction- a genuine backlash against Obama.”

Ross then pinned some of the blame on talk radio and the Internet, specifying Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as examples:

ROSS: The contentious debate over health care has helped to bring the vitriol into the open. Rush Limbaugh compared a logo for the White House health care plan to a Nazi symbol.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: That the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo.

ROSS: And the Internet is full of references to the president as Hitler, or as a socialist, or as a racist.

GLENN BECK: This guy is, I believe, a racist.

What Ross left out is that Limbaugh was responding to a comment that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made on August 5, where she accused anti-ObamaCare protesters of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that.”

After hyping how there was apparently “serious concern this week in New Hampshire, when a man stood across the street from a presidential town hall meeting with his gun on full and legal display,” the correspondent cited how the SPLC claims that “since Obama took office, there has been a sharp growth in the so-called militia groups, the kind that helped spawn a wave of domestic terrorism in the 1990s.” Ross gave a YouTube clip of the supposed leader of the Ohio Militia as an example, and played the second clip from Potok who hinted that white conservatives were racist: “I think that the president has, in effect, triggered fears among a fairly large numbers [sic] of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country.”

The full transcript of Brian Ross’s report from Friday’s Good Morning America:

BILL WEIR: We turn now to the contentious debate over President Obama’s health care agenda. The rising anger is now ramping up concerns over the President’s personal safety as he heads into another town hall meeting today. We have two reports this morning. We’ll get to senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in a moment, but we begin with chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. Brian, good morning.

BRIAN ROSS: Good morning, Bill. It’s been a very ugly week as the rhetoric about the President and the threats against him have deeply worried the people who track this country’s hate groups.

ROSS (voice-over): Outside the towering federal building in Los Angeles Thursday, police surrounded the man driving this red Volkswagen who was suspected of making threats against the President. Hours later, they used tear gas and a Taser to remove the man, who they say has mental problems, but it was another case in what some see as a very disturbing pattern.

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I don’t think that these are simply people who are mentally ill or- or, you know, kind of off their rockers. I think that- you know, in a very real sense, they represent a genuine reaction- a genuine backlash against Obama.

ROSS: The contentious debate over health care has helped to bring the vitriol into the open. Rush Limbaugh compared a logo for the White House health care plan to a Nazi symbol.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: That the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo.

ROSS: And the Internet is full of references to the president as Hitler, or as a socialist, or as a racist.

GLENN BECK: This guy is, I believe, a racist.

ROSS: To date, the Secret Service has disrupted at least three different assassination plots tied to white supremacist groups. So there was serious concern this week in New Hampshire, when a man stood across the street from a presidential town hall meeting with his gun on full and legal display.

BRAD GARRETT, ABC NEWS CONSULTANT: It’s clearly nerve-racking when he’s out in the open. I think that they really do fear that something could happen to him.

ROSS: And in a new report, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that since Obama took office, there has been a sharp growth in the so-called militia groups, the kind that helped spawn a wave of domestic terrorism in the 1990s. Now, they use YouTube, rock music, and the Internet to recruit new members, [and] spread their words of hate and fear, including this one from the supposed leader of the Ohio Militia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, America- it’s your wake-up call.

POTOK: I think that the president has, in effect, triggered fears among a fairly large numbers [sic] of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country.

ROSS (on-camera): Officials tell my colleague Pierre Thomas at ABC News that the President’s daily threat matrix has yet to reflect a sharp increase in threats. But White House officials privately admit deep concern, and have told the Secret Service to keep security tight, even if the president himself objects.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center