You know it's getting bad when Fox anchors start cracking up on the air.

I have to hand it to Smith, who apparently has a conscience, for his restraint. He does everything except stare into the camera and scream "What the fuck is wrong with you people?" Unfortunately for Shep, it's going to be hard to develop his line of argument without addressing the key role played by his employer and colleagues in stoking exactly the kind of paranoid, apocalyptic attitude which so horrifies him.

Does anyone doubt him when he says he gets thousands of those emails daily? I don't. But he takes an easy out in trying to explain why, blaming "the blogs" and implying that if only we all got our news from Professional Journalists this wouldn't happen. Is Smith capable of understanding, if not admitting, the role of his own network in promoting the grab-your-guns hysteria that seems to grip this nation every time someone to the left of Pinochet is in the White House? My friend David Niewert has a good write-up on the kind of lunatic fringe viewpoints Glenn Beck regularly promotes, from "states' rights" to "Obama is the anti-Christ" to running around like he's totally fucking bonkers and pouring fake gas on people. In fact David has catalogued many years' worth of violent it's-time-to-start-killing-liberals / Jews / Negroes / Enemies rhetoric on his blog and in a recent best-selling book (The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right) which discusses in detail the pivotal role of Fox personalities like Hannity, Coulter, O'Reilly, Beck, and Malkin in actively promoting violence. Yet no matter how many violent incidents spring forth from the bubbling cauldron of far-right paranoia and insanity, these same people seem utterly incapable of understanding the role they play in these incidents. It's never about ideology or an endemic problem with violent rhetoric on the right – it's always "just some crazy person." Since December one might care to note that we've had one or two "just some crazy person"s each month.

I wrote two months ago, echoing a sentiment that many people in the reality-based community expressed when Obama won, that the fringe right – which is far bigger and more dangerous than their patron saints on Fox and Talk Radio will admit – is going to go absolutely apopleptic for the next eight years. Obama is just a red flag being waved in front of people too inarticulate, too insane, and too deluded to respond using anything but violence. He's black, has an A-rab soundin' name, and is godless communism incarnate. Whatever tenuous connection these mouthbreathers have to reality has been severed and their bat-shit insanity is on full display. Shepard Smith seems to understand that. Now if only he could figure out from where, other than "the blogs," these people get their insane ideas. In the meantime, we all get to live with the consequences.