George Stephanopoulos Highlights AZ Sheriff Who Blames Shooting on 'Atmosphere of Hate'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Monday offered a platform to the Arizona sheriff who has lashed out in the wake of Saturday's state's spree shooting. Additionally, unlike colleague Jake Tapper, the GMA host failed to mention the political ideology of the sheriff, Democrat Clarence Dupnik, who has attacked those who "try to inflame the public on a daily basis."

After getting the latest information on the act of violence, Stephanopoulos observed, "You believe, you said very clearly you believe the political climate has helped create an atmosphere of hate that can touch people like Jared Loughner." He asserted that Dupnik "hasn't pulled any punches."

Tapper pointed out in a seperate story that a friend referred to Loughner as a "liberal," but Stephanopoulos ignored this information. He highlighted ties to a possible racist group instead: "But, how about the ties, that he might have had some loose ties to that white supremacist website American Renaissance project?"

To Stephanopoulos' credit, he did challenge Dupnik: "But, as you know, even the senior Senator from Arizona, Senator Kyl, said that since there's no evidence that Jared Loughner was incited by the media, it was wrong for to you speculate about that."

A transcript of the January 10 segment, which aired at 7:08am EST, follows:


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And for more on the investigation now, we're now joined by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Thank you for coming out this morning.

SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK (Pima County, AZ Sheriff's Department): My pleasure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sheriff, you just heard Pierre say no evidence of a broader conspiracy? Does that square with what you know about right now?

DUPNIK: That's absolutely the case. There's no doubt that this individual acted alone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No doubt at all?

DUPNIK: No doubt at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, how about the ties, that he might have had some loose ties to that white supremacist website American Renaissance project?

DUPNIK: Well, we're still actively pursuing any activities that he might have been involved in. I'm not aware of any strong ties that he had to any group. This individual is a very troubled individual and he's a typical troubled individual who is a loner.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the bottom line is, he acted alone and the target was Congresswoman Giffords.

DUPNIK: There's eyewitness testimony to that and there's documents to that effect.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we also heard from neighbors that police have been keeping an eye on the Loughner house for several days or months. Is that true?

DUPNIK: No, it's not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's just not true?

DUPNIK: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, he was not on your radar before this shooting on Saturday?

DUPNIK: No. Pima College has their own law enforcement agency, and they had some contact with him when he was a student there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But beyond that, he had not come across your radar?

DUPNIK: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is he doing right now? I know that initially he had taken his Fifth Amendment rights. Is he cooperating now?

DUPNIK: Not at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not talking at all?

DUPNIK: Not at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has he said anything?

DUPNIK: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not a word?

DUPNIK: Not a word.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Silent for 48 hours?

DUPNIK: Basically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're going to bring him to court today. And, meanwhile, you, of course, have been very busy over the weekend and haven't pulled any punches on the political climate here. You believe, you said very clearly you believe the political climate has helped create an atmosphere of hate that can touch people like Jared Loughner. Is that still you what believe? Or do you think now that this is something just completely separate?

DUPNIK: You know, I suppose you can speculate until you're heart's content. But I think many people have felt for a long time and many people are very upset with what's going on in America, that we have become a very angry country. Part of it very ugly. And that even though we have free speech in this country, constantly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making the people angry at government, public officials, elected officials and so forth, may benefit some party. But I think those people have to consider that they may have some responsibility when incidents like this occur and may occur in the future. I know that Congress, right now, is really concerned about their own personal safety. Everybody in Congress. These people come out- when they leave the Capitol- and they have no protection at all. Unless there's specific information, law enforcement doesn't get involved in any of their public appearances.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is true. But, as you know, even the senior Senator from Arizona, Senator Kyl, said that since there's no evidence that Jared Loughner was incited by the media, it was wrong for to you speculate about that.

DUPNIK: I just expressed my opinion. I was very angry at the time I said those things, and I'm still angry. Gabrielle Giffords is one of the most beautiful human beings ever created by God and so is Judge John Roll. I know these people personally and I'm very, very affected by what occurred personally. I'm just expressing my feelings. I have no agenda.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I take that to heart. Sheriff, thank you very much. But, your bottom line as you believe the shooter acted alone.

DUPNIK: That is correct.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org