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Did Paranoid Right-Wing Media Fuel the Pittsburgh Cop Killer's Rage?

Richard Poplawski, the man who allegedly murdered three Pittsburgh cops, was clearly influenced by Fox News's Glenn Beck and right-wing radio.

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David Neiwert, a veteran reporter on right-wing militia movements and author of the forthcoming book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, explained that by co-opting conspiratorial rhetoric from the farthest shores of the right, mainstream conservative talkers can inflame the passions of paranoiacs like Poplawski to a dangerous degree. "It's always been a problem when major league demagogues start promulgating false information for political gain," Neiwert told me. "What it does is unhinge fringe players from reality and dislodges them even further. When someone like Poplawski hears Glenn Beck touting One World Government and they're gonna take your gun theories, they believe then that it must be true. And that's when they really become crazy."

For Jones, whatever bad publicity he incurred from a fan's alleged killing spree paled in significance to the sudden cachet he has gained among conservative media bigwigs. During his April 6 broadcast, two days after the murders, he boasted, "Now, if you listen to [Sean] Hannity's show, if you listen to Savage; you listen to Limbaugh, it's almost like Alex Jones is hosting the show."

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is forthcoming in Spring 2009. Contact him at maxblumenthal3000@yahoo.com.