- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Public Broadcasting Service lawyer was fired Tuesday after being caught on undercover footage by Project Veritas making cracks about throwing Molotov cocktails at the White House if President Trump won reelection, and taking away the children of Trump voters if he didn’t.

The video released Tuesday showed PBS principal counsel Michael Beller in private conversations making a series of inflammatory statements about Mr. Trump and his supporters before the Nov. 3 election, prompting an immediate reaction from PBS.

“This employee no longer works for PBS,” the PBS press room said on Twitter. “As a mid-level staff attorney, he did not speak on behalf of our organization, nor did he make any editorial decisions. There is no place for hateful rhetoric at PBS, and this individual’s views in no way reflect our values or opinions.”

Asked what he would do if now-President-elect Joseph R. Biden lost, Mr. Beller smiled and quipped, “Go to the White House and throw Molotov cocktails,” prompting chuckles, as shown on the video.

He continued: “Even if Biden wins, we go for all the Republican voters, and [the Department of] Homeland Security will take their children away. What do you think about that?”

The Project Veritas undercover investigator laughed, after which Mr. Beller added, “And we’ll put them in reeducation camps.”

Such comments would have been viewed as reckless prior to Nov. 3, given the widespread protest violence of 2020, but appear even more so when viewed in the context of last week’s deadly U.S. Capitol rioting by a pro-Trump mob angry about the election outcome.

“We strongly condemn violence and will continue to do what we have done for 50 years — use our national platform and local presence to strengthen communities and bring people together,” the PBS statement said.

Mr. Beller did little to dispel stereotypes about coastal liberal elites with references to “dumb” Americans and Trump voters raising “intolerant, horrible people,” saying that a novel coronavirus spike in red states was “great” because it meant that fewer residents would vote.

“It’s good to live in a place where people are educated and know stuff,” he said, referring to the Washington, D.C., area. “Could you imagine if you lived in one of these other towns or states where everybody’s just stupid?”

PBS, a nonprofit entity known for its children’s educational programming and highbrow adult fare, is backed by a mix of private donations and public funding. The Trump administration sought repeatedly in its budget proposals to zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS.

PBS is funded in part by U.S. tax dollars. It says on its website that it ‘proudly supports the American public,’” said Project Veritas in a statement. “We have our doubts.”

Mr. Beller also took a swipe at the competition, saying, “CNN doesn’t have real news anymore. It’s just talking heads talking about Trump all day long,” and that Fox News “makes me want to throw up after five minutes.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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