Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s special edition of Countdown on MSNBC, Washington Post associate editor Eugene Robinson joined host Keith Olbermann in linking the violent attack on Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords to political rhetoric, presumably by conservatives, and suggested that such public figures must be careful to avoid inciting mentally disturbed individuals. Moments after noting comments by Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik complaining about violent rhetoric on radio and television, Olbermann brought aboard Robinson for further discussion.
While Olbermann at one pointed noted that "We don't know enough about the motives of the man they have in custody," he later posed, "I've never been convinced still that most of the people saying these things actually want to see people shot. What, though, does that matter at this point if people are being shot? How straight a line does it have to be from the one to the other?"
Robinson asserted that "intent doesn’t obviate the crime," and linked political rhetoric to violence by the mentally ill with guns:
Well, I think this is a case in which intent doesn't obviate the crime. No, I think most of these people who say these violent sounding things about how evil your government is and what it's doing to you and who quote Thomas Jefferson about democracy needing to be watered by the blood of patriots and that sort of thing, I don't think they actually intend people to take this seriously, but it can and there are people who are unbalanced who have access to guns who do take it seriously, and we should know that by now.