Profiling 5 Key Right-Wing Mouthpieces Who Spread Paranoia and Hatred to Extremists on the Fringe
In the last year and a half, militias and the larger antigovernment "Patriot" movement have exploded, accompanied by the rapid expansion of other sectors of the radical right. This spectacular growth (see timeline) is the result of several factors, including anger over major political, demographic and economic changes in America, along with the popularization of radical ideas and conspiracy theories by ostensibly mainstream politicians and media commentators.
Although the resurgence of the so-called Patriots — people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic "New World Order" — also has been propelled by people who were key players in the first wave of the Patriot movement in the mid–1990s, there are also a large number of new players.
What follows are 5 selected profiles from the Southern Poverty Law Center's special report on key media leaders in the rapidly expanding 'Patriot' movement.
Glenn Beck, 46
With his weepy, chalkboard-scrawling appeals to Americans fearful that their government is leading them down the path to ruin, Glenn Beck has rocketed up the ladder of conservative icons and is using his popularity to directly shape a far-right resurgence.
The Fox News Channel host, who draws 2 to 3 million viewers a night, also has become a lightning rod for controversy. He famously called President Obama a racist with a "deep-seated hatred for white people" and compared him to Adolf Hitler. He legitimized the right-wing conspiracy theory that FEMA was building concentration camps. After milking the theme for nearly a week, he then "proved" the theory false.
In response to his comments about Obama, in August 2009, the online organizing group ColorofChange.org launched a campaign to persuade corporations to pull their commercials from the former radio shock jock's show. They did – in droves. At least 80 advertisers have abandoned Beck, leaving the host to personally hawk less-than-mainstream products like investments in gold.
But that has done little, apparently, to slow Beck's steamrolling popularity. As the Tea Party movement began to take shape last year, he gave it a jumpstart by urging viewers to attended the gatherings and broadcasting from rallies. In February, he delivered the keynote address to 10,000 right-wing activists who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference.
In an open letter on his website last November, he wrote that in the coming months he would unveil "a 100 year plan" developed in conjunction with "some of the best minds in the country that believe in limited government, maximum freedom and the values of our Founders." He also announced a series of conventions that would immerse participants in "topics ranging from self-reliance, community organizing, the economy and how to be a political force in your own neighborhood and country."
Beck's own group, the 9.12 Project, states that it caters to "like-minded Americans looking for direction in taking back the control of our country." In the same statement, Beck writes that "this is a nonpolitical movement." But his 9.12 Project has spawned dozens of loosely affiliated chapters preoccupied with the direction of Washington, D.C.
Beck has downplayed his political influence, calling himself a "rodeo clown." Few clowns, however, earn more than $20 million a year from radio, television and print products. Sounds more like a ringmaster.
Andrew Napolitano, 59
In a recent Washington Post article, a media analyst contended that Fox News was at a crossroads. He said the network was in danger of losing its credibility as a newsgathering operation because of far-right conspiracy-mongers like host Glenn Beck.
But Beck is not the only one weakening Fox's credibility. Another hot contender in the far right-wing advocacy department is Fox's "senior judicial analyst" — Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Napolitano, a former state judge in New Jersey, appears on several Fox shows and is broadcast on any given day over the television, radio and the Internet. He was scheduled to be the keynote speaker this past February at the first annual Tenth Amendment Summit in Atlanta, but was snowed in and never made it. He missed out on rubbing elbows with neo-Confederates, conspiracy theorists and antigovernment Patriot activists.
It seems the TV judge is vying to become a fixture on the far-right lecture circuit. He was also scheduled to address the 2010 New Hampshire Liberty Forum, a gathering of self-described "pro-liberty activists" who are striving to "cut the size and scope of government by about two-thirds or more."
Napolitano has joined other conspiracy theorists in falsely claiming that efforts to expand affordable housing through the Community Reinvestment Act were responsible for the crash of the economy in 2008. He called Sarah Palin's baseless accusation that Obama was trying to set up "death panels" a "legitimate concern." He falsely suggested that Obama bribed a congressman to change his vote on health care by appointing his brother to an appeals court.
Napolitano joined Fox in 1998. He appears daily on "The Big Story with John Gibson," co-hosts "Fox & Friends" once a week and is a regular on "The O'Reilly Factor." Napolitano taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at Seton Hall Law School for 11 years. He was the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of New Jersey and served on the bench from 1987 to 1995. He returned to private practice in 1995 and began his career in broadcasting that same year.
Telling Tall Tales
Alex Jones, 36
Alex Jones is out to save the world.
From his perch as a radio talk-show host in Austin, Texas, he outlines the forces that threaten to enslave every man, woman and child on the planet. In his narrative, a cabal of wealthy corporations, the United Nations and government leaders are complicit in a fiendish plot to dominate the world.
Or something like that.
He's the host of "The Alex Jones Show," which airs six days a week on more than 60 radio stations and streams live on the Internet. His website is chock full of apocalyptic headlines and ads for products like "recession-proof coins" and manuals on "How to Survive Martial Law in America."
If Jones' ramblings were shaped into a screenplay, the resulting movie would stretch credulity to the breaking point. But Jones, in his booming radio voice, takes to the airwaves to sound the alarm with the earnestness of a true believer.
Jones believes, for example, that the federal government had a hand in terror attacks aimed at swaying American public opinion. "There was government involvement with the Oklahoma City bombing," he said. "There's a lot of evidence with 9/11 being staged."
Jones said the main goal of his show is to expose listeners to the truth. "At my core, I have a drive to expose evil and corruption," he said. "We have a dictatorship on the planet. The entire planet is being enslaved by global, dominant corporations."
Jones ran for a Texas House seat in 2000 as a Republican but said he doesn't follow the platform of either of the two major American political parties. "I'm a freedom lover, and someone who loves the truth."
Cliff Kincaid, 55
Whether he's sounding the alarm about the Vatican's role in the "New World Order" or the prospect of the U.S. military becoming a sinister homosexual fighting force, Cliff Kincaid persistently churns out columns savaging liberals, making groundless claims, and trumpeting far-right conspiracy theories.
The longtime far-right polemicist is the editor of AIM Report, a twice-monthly publication of the group ironically named Accuracy in Media. He is also the founder and president of America's Survival Inc., a group that says it monitors the United Nations in order to "expose the influence of global institutions" on people's lives.
In recent columns written for AIM, the dour Kincaid questions who's behind the financial crisis and rails against "the homosexual lobby." He warns that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will lead to "a homosexualized military [that] could itself become a threat, just like it was in the Nazi period." His warning of the impending gay blitzkrieg links to a column written by Scott Lively, co-author of The Pink Swastika, an unhinged and defamatory history that makes the entirely false claim that gays helped orchestrate the Holocaust.
At the America's Survival website, Kincaid promotes "The Religious Face of the New World Order," a report that claims to examine the Vatican's role in the plot to create a one-world government. Kincaid also has written columns about the Catholic Church's role in health care reform, including "Blame the Bishops For Health Care Debacle."
Kincaid has been a part of Washington's right-wing idea factory since the early 1980s. He's written for the highly conservative Human Events magazine and has been an editorial writer for Oliver North at the Freedom Alliance, a group founded by the former National Security Council staffer at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal.
Last year, as conspiracy theorists questioned President Obama's citizenship, Kincaid stepped up to the plate by publicly releasing his own birth certificate. The president took no apparent notice.
Running Radical Radio
John Stadtmiller, 56
John Stadtmiller founded and runs Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN), whose talk radio fare is peppered with warnings about enslavement by a one-world government. The station, which broadcasts via the Internet, shortwave and satellite, drew national attention this April when a host who identifies himself as Sam Kennedy sent letters to the nation's governors demanding that they resign within three days. The letters sparked an FBI investigation.
Stadtmiller has his own show, "The National Intel Report," which airs daily on RBN. Also heard on RBN is Jack McLamb (see profile above), a former Phoenix police officer and militia hero who runs Police & Military Against The New World Order and who argues that "globalists" are trying "to gain, through any available means, total dictatorial control over all the peoples of the world." Yet another RBN host is Michael Collins Piper, who has written copiously for the anti-Semitic American Free Press and its predecessor, The Spotlight, as well as The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial journal. Kennedy's show has focused on its host's "Restore America" project, said to be a peaceful attempt to return America to its rightful legal basis and thereby avoid "World War III."
Stadtmiller, who now lives in Round Rock, Texas, has a long history of involvement in Patriot radio, formerly co-hosting militia promoter Mark "Mark from Michigan" Koernke's (see profile above) show. Immediately after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Koernke and Stadtmiller broadcast allegations that the federal government was behind the tragedy. "This whole thing was created to attack the Patriot movement," Stadtmiller was quoted as saying in thePittsburgh Post-Gazette following McVeigh's conviction. Koernke and Stadtmiller stayed on the air even after Koernke became a fugitive in 1998. (Koernke had been charged with assaulting a man trying to subpoena him to serve as a defense witness in a murder trial.)
More recently, Stadtmiller was featured in "Camp FEMA," a video that suggests the Federal Emergency Management Agency is creating concentration camps for political dissenters. Looking scholarly in a jacket and button-down shirt, the silver-haired Stadtmiller asserts that it doesn't take much to establish a detention facility. "It can be a sports arena," he said. "It could be abandoned airports. It could be abandoned military facilities. Anyplace that you can set up a security perimeter could be used as a temporary internment camp."
Stadtmiller declined to speak with the Intelligence Report. "I would rather pour gasoline on myself and light it than speak to anyone in your 'organization,'" he wrote in an E-mail.