ABC presented an absolutely marvelous special Tuesday evening about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' (D-Ariz.) remarkable recovery from a gunshot to the head last January.
After 36 minutes of uplifting scenes involving the Congresswoman's therapy and road back to being able to walk and speak, host Diane Sawyer for some reason felt the need to bring politics into the program at its conclusion while taking a truly pathetic swipe at former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DIANE SAWYER, HOST: So does Gabby Giffords really want to go back to Washington, back where she was once called the most positive person in Congress?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-ARIZONA): It is exciting. Yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: Staying upbeat, even during the unsettling campaigns of 2010 when we all watched opposition sometimes become vitriol. After she voted for healthcare, she faced people in her district calling her a traitor, booing her in townhalls. Someone even fired a gun into her office door. And you may remember Sarah Palin targeted her district with an ad that had a gunsight on it. Giffords once worried aloud to her husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORDS’ HUSBAND MARK KELLY: She says is, “Some day, I'm really worried somebody’s going to come up to me at one of these events with a gun."
Exactly why was this necessary or even considered by Sawyer and her producers?
It is now a well-established fact that Giffords' assailant Jared Lee Loughner was not in any way associated with the Tea Party, folks that were protesting at healthcare townhalls, or Palin. If anything, he leans to the left in political ideology if in his clearly deranged mental state he actually has one.
To make an obvious allusion that his attack had anything to do with the 2010 campaign, healthcare protests, or Palin was dishonest and disgraceful.
Couldn't the folks at ABC have made it through 41 minutes without injecting politics into what was up until that point a really wonderful look at what Giffords has gone through since that awful Saturday in January?
Is it possible for someone like Sawyer to just address the human side of this tragedy without having to take unwarranted and fallacious potshots at folks she believes to be her political rivals?
For 36 minutes last night, I cried and laughed with likely millions of Americans on both sides of the aisle as I watched Giffords' struggle to get her life back.
And for some reason, Sawyer and company ruined it.
All that bipartisan unity, that sense that for just an hour we can all be Americans rather than Democrats and Republicans wiped away in the blink of an eye with a fiction-based political attack.
People in the media are constantly blaming lawmakers - mostly on the right side of the aisle, of course - for the caustic political tone in the nation.
Last night we saw evidence that it's not just our elected officials taking unwarranted swipes at their opponents. It's people in the press like Sawyer who can't even get through 41 minutes without doing so.
Folks within my organization know that I struggled with writing this because I was so moved by what I saw last night. I'm one of the millions of Americans cheering and praying for Giffords' full recovery and sincerely hoping to see her back in Congress despite my political differences with her.
That's the sense that all of our fellow Americans should have been left with when the final credits rolled at the end of this program.
But because of Sawyer's negligence, and her adherence to advancing her agenda at any cost, as the screen faded to black, we were all Democrats and Republicans again.
Shame on Sawyer for ruining what could have been a shining moment for Americans, for just a little while, to feel like just Americans again.