ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC and NPR Ignore Death Threats to Wisconsin Republicans

March 13th, 2011 11:54 AM

Numerous death threats were made against Wisconsin Republican lawmakers last week, but you wouldn't know about it if your only news sources were ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR.

Bucking the boycott was Fox News's Bill O'Reilly Friday (video follows with transcript and commentary):

BILL O'REILLY: But first, death threats in Wisconsin and that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points" memo. The attorney general's office in that state investigating a number of death threats against some Republicans who voted to diminish union power.

A radio station obtained this email, quote: "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will be killed due to your actions I the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell," unquote. Wisconsin authorities are taking this stuff seriously. They have a suspect, has not been charged as far as we know.

Not taking this seriously were ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR. LexisNexis and closed-caption dump searches of "Wisconsin and 'death threat'" produced zero results for these so-called news outlets throughout the month of March.


When you compare this to the hysterical coverage of last year's Tea Party rallies and town hall protests, where conservatives were regularly depicted as either hostile or fomenting violence, one has to wonder how actual death threats against sitting politicians would not be considered newsworthy.

This seems particularly curious after all the talk about hostile rhetoric immediately following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in January.

Now, less than two months later, actual death threats against politicians are being investigated in Wisconsin, and five major news outlets are boycotting the story. 

(Readers are advised that MSNBC only provides transcripts for its extended prime time programs making it possible the network did cover this story at some point.)

Would they have reported these threats if they were made against Democrats? Seems a metaphysical certitude, correct?

For the record, according to LexisNexis, leading the way on this coverage was Fox News which has done seven reports on this issue. CNN has done four.

As far as print is concerned, this matter hasn't received a lot of attention there either.

The New York Times has published one story this month referring to death threats in Wisconsin, but it was quite non-specific and didn't mention which Party received the threats:

A number of legislators told law enforcement authorities that they had received death threats, an Assembly spokesman said. And Democrats in the Assembly tried, briefly, to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed as speaker for what they said was his “incredibly impaired” judgment.

That's it. Nothing more about this from the Gray Lady.

But that's more than the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times who have all completely ignored this story.

In case you were wondering how serious these threats are, here's what Green Bay's Fox affiliate WLUK reported Friday:

So, the threats are so serious that two Wisconsin legislators chose not to participate in a parade.

I guess that's not newsworthy because they're Republicans.