FOX News contributor calls for Obama’s assassination

Liz Trotta, commenting on Hillary’s RFK gaffe:
“… and now we have what … uh…some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama …uh … Obama ….well, both if we could.”

No, I’m not kidding. Though Liz Trotta was. Having speaking about Hillary Clinton’s RFK gaffe, Trotta said:

… and now we have what … uh…some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama …uh … Obama ….well, both, if we could!

At which point she laughs, and the Fox anchorgeek says “Talk about how you really feel.”

What’s astonishing is that this comes in the midst of a long dissertation about how the original comment shows that HRC is unfit to be President. Trotta quotes someone as saying “We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul.”

What do you think is the image density of Liz Trotta’s soul? Or the anchor’s? They both think that calling for Obama to be “knocked off” is funny.

This calls for (but probably won’t get) a major fuss. Even jocular references to “knocking off” a Presidential candidate get lots of unwanted attention from the Secret Service. Maybe if the FCC can stop worrying about “wardrobe failures” it can start worrying about this sort of political obscenity.

In the meantime, the rest of us should concentrate on making Roger Ailes and Rubert Murdoch eat dirt. If Trotta isn’t fired, we should be talking about boycotts of all Fox News interviews by all Democratic candidates, boycotts of Fox advertisers, and license challenges for Fox stations. And spokesmen for the Republican Party, which has benefited so much from having Fox News as its version of Pravda, ought to be forced to say whether they think “knocking off” Barack Obama is something to joke about.

If CBS or the New York Times had carried a comparable joke about Rudy Giuliani, Red Blogistan and the right-wing spin machine &#8212 with Fox News in the lead &#8212 would still be screaming about it five years later. Our side has to learn that technique.

One good first step: a Congressional resolution denouncing Trotta’s comment, parallel to the Congressional denunciation of MoveOn over “General Betray-Us.” Sauce. Goose. Gander.

Major kudos to Lauren S of Daily Kos for catching this one.

Update Trotta apologizes: “lame attempt at humor.” Doesn’t explain why she puts a terrorist mass murderer and a Presidential candidate in the same category. Doesn’t retract her attack on Clinton.

Not good enough. Not close to good enough.

Update A reader objects, on free speech grounds. Another reader, an experienced Federal criminal defense lawyer, points out that making a threat against a President or a Presidential candidate is a felony, and that

Any Assistant Federal Public Defender could cite you to a half dozen cases s/he had handled in which some harmless, mentally ill nobody had been prosecuted and sentenced to jail for making a “threat” against a public official (or candidate) that was no more explicit or serious than the one you quote.

For example, a homeless schizophrenic was tried and convicted for expressing a desire to hurt Hillary Clinton, even though the “threat” was heard only by two staff members at the shelter, neither of whom took it seriously. The conviction was reversed because the “threat” wasn’t heard by anyone who believed it.

I have a pretty sensitive First Amendment conscience, but the notion that it’s not OK to talk about killing the President or a candidate seems just fine to me. Since it’s impossible to keep a President or a candidate permanently out of range, any statement that sounds like incitement, especially one made on network TV, might be heard by someone who would be moved to act on it. Trotta made it clear that she regarded the junior Senator from Illinois as an assassination target equivalent to man who organized the greatest mass murder in American history. ‘Tain’t funny, Mcgee. And no, taking it back once you’ve been called on it doesn’t count.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: