If Bush or Cheney Had Been Assassinated Would Olbermann and MSNBC Be Responsible?

Although not at all surprising, the far-left in America are pointing fingers at Fox News personalities – in particular, Bill O’Reilly – for the murder of abortion Dr. George Tiller.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Monday night’s “Countdown” even went so far as to place the blame squarely on FNC’s shoulders stating, “Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorismthe goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man [O’Reilly] and his ilk off the air.”

The seemingly untenable position being espoused is since O’Reilly and other FNCers spoke critically of Tiller’s abortionist practices, they were complicit in encouraging alleged assailant Scott Roeder to perform this heinous act.

This raises an important question: as Olbermann and his ilk on MSNBC and throughout the liberal blogosphere routinely referred to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as murderers, would they have been responsible if someone had assassinated either of these former White House members?

More broadly, when, if ever, do criticisms by a commentator rise to the level of advocating the murder of the target of his or her disaffection?

Olbermann believes he has the answer: “For four years, on at least 28 occasions, that is what was said on Fox News channel. Nazism, al-Qaeda, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, baby-killing, pedophilia, ‘Tiller the Baby Killer’ – again and again and again.”

So, in his view, and in the eyes of many on the far-left, because O’Reilly and other FNC personalities used harsh words to describe Tiller, viewers might respond violently by shooting the doctor, and the network as well as the criticizing parties would be responsible.

If this is the case, on how many occasions during Bush’s second term did Olbermann and his MSNBC colleagues make equally provocative references to the President and Vice President? Maybe 28 a week, right?

So, if someone had shot either of them, or if the assassination attempt on Cheney in Iraq two years ago had been successful, would it be fair to point fingers at Olbermann and MSNBC UNLESS murder was clearly advocated during broadcasts?

If the answer is “No,” unless O’Reilly and other FNC personalities had specifically stated that Tiller deserved to be shot as a result of his abortion practices, it is equally preposterous to blame them for Tiller’s death.

Such logic has clearly eluded liberals in the media who despite their incessant vitriolic attacks on their political opponents, delivered of course with a freedom of speech immunity, believe any time someone with conservative views commits a crime it must be because of comments made by right-wing pundits.

This also happened in April when three Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, police officers were murdered by a lone gunman, and the Left blamed it on FNC’s Glenn Beck.

Yet, as is always the case, the “freedom of speech immunity” is a rather subjective thing that only applies to liberals. Here’s how Olbermann tabled it Monday evening:

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 how 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, then why do people advertise on it with the same commercial again and again and again in hopes of making buzzwords sink in? The Geico gecko, “Viva Viagra,” FreeCreditReport.com, “Tiller the Baby Killer.” Don’t tell them. They will not listen.

To be sure, we heard this argument from the Left in April that conservatives can’t blame the violence on television and in rap music for an increase in crime while claiming the words of political commentators aren’t similarly inciting.

But this is also devoid of logic for sociologists point to sex and violence on television and in music as being mimicked by viewers and listeners. The constant bombardment of such on the population – especially youth – encourages folks to replicate these acts.

With this in mind, one could only equate the contention that sex and violence on the airwaves encourages similar acts to conservative commentary inciting murder if O’Reilly, Beck, and other FNC personalities were specifically telling the public to kill those they’re criticizing.

As previously addressed, this is not the case.

As for advertising buzzwords and how they manipulate public behavior, there is indeed a specific cause and effect the author of such slogans as “Viva Viagra” is looking to create: the purchase of a product.

As a result, Olbermann’s point about television marketing's impact would only be valid if Americans, in response to the Geico commercials, were hunting down and killing geckos across the fruited plain.

Don't tell him. He will not listen.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.