In April, a Washington man named Charles Alan Wilson was arrested for threatening Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for her vote to pass health care reform. He left a series of threatening messages on her voicemail, saying “It only takes one piece of lead. Kill the (expletive) senator! … Now that you’ve passed your health-care bill, let the violence begin” and “I do believe that every one of you (expletive) socialist democratic progressive (expletive) need to be taken out.” Wilson was arrested after a federal agent called him pretending to be from a group backed by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing organization responsible for funding some of the “grassroots” opposition to health care reform. Wilson told the agent, who he thought was a fellow opponent to health care reform, that “I will not blink” when it comes to shooting the Senator. “It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee,” he said.
Now, Media Matters reports on new disturbing details about the extent to which Wilson may have been influenced by Fox News personality Glenn Beck. According to court records, Wilson’s family blamed Beck for putting Wilson “under a spell.” Wilson’s cousin submitted this letter to the court last month:
What happened later with Charlie is something I think I can understand. He became basically housebound due to illness and his small world became even smaller. His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck… I found Glenn Beck about the same time Charlie did. I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck’s persuasive personality. The same thing happened to me but I went in a different direction with what I was seeing. Rather than blame politicians for the current issues, I simply got prepared for what Glenn said was coming. I slowly filled our pantry as Glenn fed fear into me. I did not miss watching his show and could not understand why the rest of the world didn’t get it — Glenn became a pariah to me. But I was finally able to step away and realize the error of my ways. The media lost its grip on me. But it still held very tightly to Charlie.
While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices were terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out by a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy. I don’t believe that Charlie even had the ability to actually carry out his threats.
Indeed, Beck fiercely opposed health care reform, often in apocalyptic terms, saying that “This is the end of prosperity in America forever … the end of America as you know it,” and asking “if this passes, don’t we lose, really, the Democratic Party to the socialists?” This was coupled with some disturbingly violent rhetoric: Beck characterized Democrats as vampires, and then suggested “driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.” He also said that “[t]o the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter.”
Watch a compilation of videos found at Media Matters:
This isn’t the first time an unhinged person may have been motivated to conduct political violence because of what they saw on Beck’s show. In July an unemployed California man loaded up his car with guns and ammunition, and was pulled over and arrested on his way to shoot up the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, a frequent Beck target. He later told a reporter that “I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind. I said, well, nobody does this.” In April, a man was arrested for threatening Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and his mother told reporters that she blamed Fox News.