Joe Walsh, now a radio talk show host, declared “This is now war” and called for President Barack Obama to “watch out” in a Twitter post.
Twitter Deleted the post
“This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” he wrote in the tweet that posted Thursday night, which has since been deleted.
In subsequent tweets that remained posted as of early Friday, he called the shooters “uneducated black thugs” and blamed Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement for the officers’ deaths.
“I wasn’t calling for violence, against Obama or anyone. Obama’s words and BLM’s deeds have gotten cops killed,” he tweeted.
The Dallas police officers were shot at a protest against police brutality Thursday, police there said.
An unrepentant Walsh stood by his tweets Friday morning, saying in a Tribune interview: “Of course I didn’t mean ‘let’s go kill Obama and Black Lives Matter.’ I was not trying to incite violence against Obama and Black Lives Matter. That’s crazy and stupid and wrong.”
He added: “It would end my career and it’s wrong. I would never say anything as reprehensible as that.”
Walsh, who lives in suburban Chicago, said he has had a sleepless night because of death threats against him on social media. He said he had asked for local police protection.
After a daylong backlash against Walsh and his tweet, he apologized on his mid-afternoon syndicated radio show for the message, saying it had been misinterpreted. But the apology came with his insistence that he stood by the tweet and did not regret as he sought to put the onus on people who he said misunderstood him.
Walsh asserted on the show that “millions and millions of Americans all around the country have wished me nothing but death.” He said he had a sleepless night with a shotgun by his bed in light of the threats. He also said general managers of radio stations that carry his program were getting calls to get rid of him.
Walsh earlier had said some people on social media had called for the Secret Service or FBI to arrest him — including singer John Legend, who tweets at @johnlegend.
“Joe Walsh needs to be arrested for threatening our President. STFU@walshfreedom,” reads a tweet from Legend, who has nearly 8 million Twitter followers.
In his Friday morning interview with the Tribune, Walsh said he had not been contacted by federal authorities about the tweet. “If I did, I would give them the same answer I would give you: I would not encourage any violence against the president of the United States or anybody.”
Asked about Walsh on Friday, Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said, “We are not providing any comment on that.”
The controversial tweet was posted at 10:56 p.m. Thursday.
Walsh said what he was trying to convey in his tweets is this: “There’s a war against our cops in this country, and I think Obama has fed that war and Black Lives Matter has fed that war. … Obama’s words and the deeds of Black Lives Matter have gotten cops in this country killed.”
According to Walsh, it was up for an hour or so when he received word electronically from Twitter that it had suspended his account.
“They said the tweet might look like it might incite violence,” he said.
He said he was allowed to reopen his account only if the tweet was deleted, which he said had happened without him taking action.
“The pre-condition for me reopening my account was they had to delete that tweet,” Walsh said.
Wexler did cite a Twitter rule prohibiting threats of violence or the promotion of violence.
Twitter‘s rules state there are limits on what content and behavior it allows and that failure to comply with its rules “may result in the temporary locking and/or permanent suspension of account(s).” Several types of messages and images are prohibited, including direct or indirect “violent threats.”
“You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism,” its rules state.
Walsh, 54, has a history of controversial comments. He rode a tea party wave into Congress in 2010 with an upset against Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean, an incumbent, to represent Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs He held the 8th Congressional District seat for two years, losing in 2012 to Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
At a public meeting in 2012, Walsh said that “radical Islam” is a threat at home more so than right after 9/11. “It’s in Elk Grove, it’s in Addison, it’s in Elgin,” he said, drawing condemnation from local Muslims.
In his 2012 race against Duckworth, a double amputee from the Iraq War, Walsh said: “Now I’m running against a woman who, I mean, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about.”
He was videotaped at a 2011 constituent gathering in north suburban using rough language during a discussion of the economy. A finger-pointing Walsh said, “This pisses me off” and “I am tired of hearing that crap” and at one point demanded quiet and warned that he might have to ask one of the attendees to leave.
After losing his congressional seat, he started as a radio broadcaster in 2013 and the next year drew fire for using racial slurs on his show. He uttered the racial epithets during a discussion of the Washington Redskins NFL team. He said the slurs weren’t directed at anyone, but needed to be said in order to discuss them.
Walsh the next day read a statement indicating such slurs couldn’t be used on the air — even in the context of a discussion.
When he got the radio gig on WIND-AM 560 in March 2013, Walsh said: “I intend to do with this program what I did as a U.S. congressman — speak plainly, speak directly, not worry about political correctness and engage in respectful, engaging debate with all viewpoints.”
His website says his syndicated radio show, “The Joe Walsh Program,” airs in New York, Denver, Phoenix and Dallas. In Chicago, “The Joe Walsh Show,” airs from 5 to 7 p.m. on AM 560.