"Watch your words," fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas scolded in
teasing Friday's World News, as she trumpeted: "Former President
Clinton warns harsh anti-government talk could lead to violent acts,
like the Oklahoma City bombing."
Introducing the subsequent story, Vargas identified talk radio and Tea Party participants as the culprits:
There is a lot of attention tonight on comments made by former President Bill Clinton, who has weighed in on the angry anti-government rhetoric, ringing out from talk radio to Tea Party rallies. He warns that sometimes firing people up with caustic comments can have unintended and dire consequences.
Jake Tapper, who will interview Clinton for Sunday's This Week, delivered a less inflammatory report. He began: "Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing today, former President Bill Clinton cautioned Americans to be mindful of their rhetoric," but also noted how "Rush Limbaugh said if there's a future Oklahoma City bombing, it's Clinton's fault." Limbaugh argued in a soundbite: "With this comment, you have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton."
Flashback: "SPECIAL PURVEYORS OF HATE & DIVISION ISSUE " of the MRC's May 8, 1995 edition of Notable Quotables, which started with: "Oklahoma City: Conservative Talk Radio's Fault?"
From the MRC's TimesWatch site on Friday: "Hulse Lets Clinton Smear Tea Party Protests as Lighting Fuse for Next Oklahoma City Bombing ."
This wasn't the first time a network newscast jumped to promote the effort by a former Democratic President to discredit critics of President Obama. Last September, "NBC Trumpets Carter's Racism Charges ," recounted:
NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how "former President Carter spoke up and spoke out about" the supposed racism. Williams alleged "a certain number of signs and images at last weekend's big tea party march in Washington and at other recent events have featured racial and other violent themes and President Carter today said he is extremely worried by it."
Next night: "NBC: 'Blunt' Carter 'Prompted Us to Reexamine Our
Assumptions About Race' "
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.