Center for Constitution Rights asks FNC's Ailes to help curb Beck's incitement of death threats

by: Paul Rosenberg

Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 09:00


Beck's Branding of Frances Fox Piven as an "Enemy of the Constitution" Incites Death Threats

On Tuesday, I wrote a diary "Frances Fox Piven: Despite Beck's ravings, no violence, just calls for empowering the powerless," which was inspired by a segment on Democracy Now! with Piven--a 78-year old professor of social science--discussing Glenn Beck's demented attacks on her, and the resulting threats that have been made against her person.

Now, the Center on Constitutional Rights has written a letter to Fox News President Roger Ailes asking him to help put a stop these threats, saying, in part:

"Your employee Glenn Beck has repeatedly falsely accused Professor Frances Fox Piven of advocating violence.  Mr. Beck has provoked emotional responses which have incited violent threats against Professor Piven.  As a result Professor Piven has been subjected to numerous threats on her life, many posted on Mr. Beck's own website.

As President of Fox News we ask you to intervene and bring a stop to this.  We ask you to order this campaign of misinformation to end.  You can stop the reckless endangering of the safety of Professor Piven."

Not only has Beck falsely accused Piven of advocating violence, he's also blamed her for our economic woes:

GLENN BECK: Let me introduce you to the people who you would say are fundamentally responsible for the unsustainability and possible collapse of our economic system. There are really two people, I've been telling you for a while. There they are: Cloward and Piven, Richard Cloward, Frances Fox Piven.... They wrote about collapsing the economy and how they plan to do it in an article they co-authored in the 1960s, "Mobilizing the Poor: How It Could be Done?" six months later published in The Nation under the title "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty."

But, as Piven herself explained on Democracy Now:

FRANCES FOX PIVEN: .... That article didn't call for crashing anything, except the existing welfare system. It proposed that people on the left help poor people in the cities get their full benefits from welfare. Now, at the time, welfare was denying benefits to over half of the people that were eligible.

You can read the article yourself and see that Beck is lying and Piven is telling the truth:

It is our purpose to advance a strategy which affords the basis for a convergence of civil rights organizations, militant anti-poverty groups and the poor. If this strategy were implemented, a political crisis would result that could lead to legislation for a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.

The strategy is based on the fact that a vast discrepancy exists between the benefits to which people are entitled under public welfare programs and the sums which they actually receive.

Beck is so demented that he actually renewed his vicious lies about Piven in his mock "renunciation of violence":

GLENN BECK: .... I denounce violent threats and calls for the destruction of our system, regardless of their underlying ideology, whether they come from the Hutaree militia or Frances Fox Piven.

CCR explained the letter and their reasons for sending it in the following press release:

Paul Rosenberg :: Center for Constitution Rights asks FNC's Ailes to help curb Beck's incitement of death threats
CCR Appeals to Fox News President for Help in Silencing Glenn Beck Misinformation Campaign Against Progressive Professor

Repeated Branding of 78-Year-Old Professor Frances Fox Piven as "Enemy of the Constitution" Incites Death Threats

CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

January 20, 2011, New York - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued a written appeal to Fox News president Roger Ailes to help put a stop to the increasing threats against progressive Professor Frances Fox Piven, largely incited by Fox News host Glenn Beck. In the letter, co-written by Legal Director Bill Quigley and Executive Director Vince Warren the CCR asks that Ailes distinguish between First Amendment rights, of which they are "vigorous defenders" and an "intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods [that place that person] in actual physical danger of a violent response."

Beginning in September of 2010, Glenn Beck started branding Piven, a distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as an "enemy of the Constitution." Piven, well known for advocating for the organizational rights of the poor and encouraging voter registration, has since received threatening phone calls and letters, and has become the subject of many death threats left open to the public on Glenn Beck's website, The Blaze."

The CCR letter cites many of the incendiary quotes from Beck in reference to Piven. Beck compares Piven to the Hutaree militia, infamous for violent threats against government and law enforcement workers, and equates her calls for social movements to "terrorism." On December 31, a headline on The Blaze read, "Frances Fox Piven Rings in the New Year by Advocating Violent Revolution," further stating that "violence has always been Piven's preferred method of collapse."

The Center for Constitutional rights details a backlash through some of the many violent quotes on Beck's website. Examples include, "Maybe they should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow's throat," "We should blow up Piven's office and home," and "I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?"

The letter states that the "threats must be taken seriously by Fox News," and that "Professor Piven's life could well be at stake." It further asks that Mr. Ailes "order an immediate investigation into this, and insist on a speedy and fair resolution which will stop the Fox and Beck generated threats on Professor Piven."

Beck's incitement of potential violence against Piven needs to be seen in the larger context of outrageous misrepresentation that is his stock in trade.  The pattern of character assassination, in particular, is well-documented.  He has repeated called President Obama a racist, for example, even though he claims he "only" did it once.  Media Matters reviewed his history on this score this week:

Glenn Beck made the laughably false claim that he only made "one comment, one time" accusing President Obama of being racist, adding, "and I made it early in the morning." In fact, Beck has repeatedly accused Obama of racism and of using the presidency to "settle old racial scores."

Examples of him making the accusation include:

  • The July 28, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, where he first made the accusation.
  • The next day, on the July 29, 2009 edition of Premiere Radio Networks'The Glenn Beck Program, when Beck said, " I stand by that."
  • A September 2009 interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, when Beck said that whether Obama is a racist was "a serious question that I think needs serious discussion".
  • His June 14, 2010 radio show, when Beck claimed Obama did not want to meet with BP CEO Tony Hayward because he is a "white CEO."

Media Matters also cites other cases where Beck insinuated racist motives, as well as documenting a pattern of racist comments and actions by Beck himself over a period of years.

There is no doubt that Beck is lying racist scumbag.  That's not enough to get him kicked off Fox, or even told to tone it down.  More likely, that's why he's there.  But inciting political violence?  Now, at last, that is simply too much, even for Fox.

Or at least it ought to be.


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