CBS Blames Sarah Palin For Injecting 'Politics and Controversy' Into Tucson Shooting

At the top of Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric lamented: "The President tries to comfort a nation in mourning, but even on a rare day of unity, politics and controversy intervene." A clip was then played of Sarah Palin's Facebook video reaction to the Tucson shooting and media finger-pointing: "Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel."

Later, correspondent Chip Reid reported that in his speech at the memorial service for the victims, "one thing we're told he [President Obama] will not do is get into the political battle that's developed over this tragedy." Reid then added: "a battle that became even more heated today when Sarah Palin joined the fray."

Reid proclaimed: "In a nearly eight-minute video, Sarah Palin defended herself against critics who have accused her of using inflammatory, even violent words and images, in last year's campaign. Especially a map that used the crosshairs of a gunsight to target some Democrats, including Gabrielle Giffords."

Continuing to attack Palin, Reid declared that she had "ignited a new controversy by using the term 'blood libel,' which refers to false allegations from the Middle Ages that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies." A clip was played of Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center: "Jews have paid a terrible price. They were accused falsely. Their children were murdered because of these libels." Reid failed to cite liberal Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who defended Palin's use of the term: "There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term..."

Reid noted how: "Some political analysts say the remark was straight out of Sarah Palin's political playbook." He cited CBS News chief political analyst and editor of The Atlantic, Marc Armbinder, who slammed the former Alaska governor: "And she will often make her case in the most explicit, most inflammatory, most attention-getting way that's possible." Reid concluded: "Again, we're told the President will not take sides in that battle."

Like Couric and Reid mentioned, President Obama did avoid politics in his speech, and as correspondent Ben Tracy pointed out on Thursday's Early Show: "While some have rushed to politicize the tragedy this week, the President called on all Americans to rise above partisan differences." The word "some" would include CBS, which was politicizing the tragedy a little over an hour before the memorial service.

On Wednesday, NewsBusters' editor at large Brent Baker cited Reid's report while also pointing out NBC's Andrea Mitchell going after Palin on the Nightly News.


Here is a full transcript of Reid's January 12 report:

6:30PM ET TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: The President tries to comfort a nation in mourning, but even on a rare day of unity, politics and controversy intervene.

SARAH PALIN: Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel.

6:33PM ET SEGMENT:

COURIC: President Obama flew to Arizona today to speak at a memorial service there, but first, he stopped at University Medical Center to visit Congresswoman Giffords and other victims of the shooting. Chip Reid is in Tucson tonight. Chip, it's become a familiar role for presidents in times of tragedy – consoler-in-chief.

CHIP REID: Sadly, it has, Katie. And as you can see from these pictures, he's going to have a very large crowd to hear his remarks. Thousands of people are being diverted to an outdoor stadium where they'll get a feed of the remarks. One thing we're told he will not do is get into the political battle that's developed over this tragedy, a battle that became even more heated today when Sarah Palin joined the fray.

PALIN: That is reprehensible.

REID: In a nearly eight-minute video, Sarah Palin defended herself against critics who have accused her of using inflammatory, even violent words and images, in last year's campaign. Especially a map that used the crosshairs of a gunsight to target some Democrats, including Gabrielle Giffords. Today, Palin said it's not she but her critics who are inciting violence.

PALIN: Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.

REID: But she ignited a new controversy by using the term 'blood libel,' which refers to false allegations from the Middle Ages that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies.

RABBI MARVIN HIER [FOUNDER & DEAN, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER]: Jews have paid a terrible price. They were accused falsely. Their children were murdered because of these libels.

REID: Some political analysts say the remark was straight out of Sarah Palin's political playbook.

MARC ARMBINDER [CBS NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST]: And she will often make her case in the most explicit, most inflammatory, most attention-getting way that's possible.

REID: Again, we're told the President will not take sides in that battle. He'll spend most of his short speech memorializing the victims. Katie.

COURIC: Chip Reid reporting from Tucson tonight.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC