During MSNBC's live coverage immediately following Saturday's attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), correspondent Luke Russert theorized that the shooting was probably a violent reaction to the passage of ObamaCare, for which Giffords cast an affirmative vote.
"Remember, this is the deepest fear that was in the back of everybody's mind going through the health care debate. A lot of members were threatened," Russert warned during coverage of the shooting. "It looks sadly like it's come to fruition today."
Russert's comment came during the 3 p.m. EST hour of MSNBC News Live; the network was in ongoing live coverage of the event, which occurred around 10:15 a.m. local time, 12:15 p.m. EST.
On Tuesday's Early Show, correspondent Ben Tracy acknowledged that the facts in the Tuscon shooting do not support media spin that the tragedy was incited by right-wing political rhetoric: "Authorities tell CBS News that Loughner's attack on Congresswoman Giffords' was not partisan, but more likely because he was anti-government in general and she was a symbol of it."
Minutes later, co-host Erica Hill reported on a new CBS News poll on the shooting: "The Sheriff [Clarence Dupnik] investigating the shootings in Arizona has publicly blamed the extreme political rhetoric across this country for the tragedy....A majority of Americans, however, don't necessarily agree that's the case....57% of respondents don't believe the harsh tone had anything to do with the shootings. Just 32% say it did." At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour, news reader Jeff Glor again touted the new poll: "...there's more debate over whether a heated political atmosphere played a role....most Americans reject that idea."
According to Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos, there's "no evidence" that the Arizona shooter was motivated by political ideology. But, that didn't stop the ABC host from speculating during a discussion with possible Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.
After allowing that "crazy voices" inside Jared Loughner's head probably prompted the rampage, Stephanopoulos continued, "But this has sparked a debate about the political debate in this country. You see Roger Ailes on Fox News saying his people have to tone it down. You have got Paul Krugman on the left talking about a climate of hate."
"What's your take on this," he prompted. Later, the former Democratic operative turned journalist attempted to get the Minnesota governor to repeat a mild criticism he made of Sarah Palin. Regarding the so-called cross hair maps that Palin's PAC created in 2010, Stephanopoulos nudged, "You actually told the New York Times you wouldn't have done the kind of mapping with cross hairs...Is this a test for her?"
NBC's Andrea Mitchell just can't let go of the media spin that political rhetoric, specially from conservatives like Sarah Palin, is somehow partly to blame for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as on Tuesday's Today show, she questioned if Palin's use of crosshairs on her Web site to target Democratic districts was "inflammatory?" Mitchell couldn't even report that "There is no direct link" from Palin to the shooting suspect Jared Loughner without adding, "as far as investigators know."
Mitchell actually began her story airing a soundbite from outer space with Giffords' brother-in-law, astronaut Scott Kelly, linking political rhetoric to the attack on Giffords:
ANDREA MITCHELL: From the space station, Gabrielle Gifford's brother-in-law, her husband's twin, fellow astronaut Scott Kelly.
SCOTT KELLY: These days we're constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words.
While Mitchell did eventually allow conservatives to have their say, as she aired soundbites from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and David Frum, she finished her piece with words from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Giffords, that left the impression harsh discourse was to blame for the tragedy.
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey links to a CBS poll showing that 57 percent of Americans believe that American politics is not responsible for Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson. In other words, most Americans are clued into reality, despite the best efforts of the news media.
Nearly six in 10 Americans say the country’s heated political rhetoric is not to blame for the Tucson shooting rampage that left six dead and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to a CBS News poll.
While folks in the media blame conservatives for violent rhetoric they dishonestly claim led to Saturday's massacre in Tucson, they continue to hypocritically ignore their own toxicity.
No finer or timely example occurred just three days before the shootings when Ed Schultz on the program bearing his name angrily said, "This is an ideological war. I say it on camera tonight here on MSNBC - I will fight these bastards every night at 6 o’clock" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Of all the utter hypocrisy currently being displayed by many of those on the left over the tragic Arizona shooting, it would be hard to exceed that of the notorious fraudster of the Democratic Underground best known to the outside world as the perpetrator of the 2006 Karl Rove indictment hoax.. William Rivers Pitt of TruthOut, with enormous chip on his shoulder, has climbed up on his DU soap box and self-righteously pointed his finger of blame directly at conservatives. Ironically, although Pitt blames conservatives for supposed political violence that led to the tragedy in Arizona, it is that same man recently chronicled here in NewsBusters for being caught in an act of plagiarism who himself has a history of posting violent fantasies on the Web. Just weeks prior to posting his "THE WRATH OF FOOLS: An Open Letter To the Far Right," Pitt posted these Hateful Days violent fantasies:
There is a great deal of hate in my heart today. . . . The hate is a free-flowing thing, expanding in all directions. . . . Sarah Palin. . . . George H. W. Bush. . . . makes me want to give up on this tepid reporting job and take up firebombing. . . . Yes, I hate, with depth and passion, and have much cause to do so.
NewsBusters has exhaustively documented the ways in which the liberal media and Dem politicians have sought to exploit the Arizona shootings, seeking to pin blame on a range of Republicans and conservative media figures.
It was thus nothing short of surreal to listen to MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin this morning. Surveying the situation, Halperin praised the media and politicians for their reaction to the shooting . . . while condemning Fox News and conservative pundits for treating the tragedy like "war and fodder for content."
When Joe Scarborough rightly suggested that Halperin had it backwards, the Time man wouldn't back down. View video after the jump.
There’s no evidence political vitriol of any kind drove Jared Loughner’s murderous rampage, ABC, CBS and NBC all acknowledged, but that didn’t deter them on Monday night from taking up the left-wing line holding conservatives culpable as NBC, incredibly, managed to castigate Sarah Palin and go back more than five years to find an incendiary quote from Glenn Beck – but couldn’t find anything over the line from its own Keith Olbermann or Ed Schultz.
“It was, by all accounts, a lone and very disturbed man who shot that gun on Saturday,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer noted, “but nonetheless, as we all know, a lot of people began asking questions for different reasons. Is this a moment we can talk about what is civility and respect in America?” From Tucson, on CBS Katie Couric set up a story: “We may never know for sure what drove Jared Loughner to open fire here last Saturday, but some, on both ends of the political spectrum, say the vitriolic rhetoric we hear every day was a factor.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams intoned: “Has political speech in this country become too charged, too toxic, and did it play a role in this tragedy?” Reporter Andrea Mitchell contended any link to the shooting is irrelevant: “Whether or not there is any connection between Saturday's shooting and angry rhetoric, it has certainly reignited the debate over political speech between right and left.”
In the aftermath of the senseless wounding of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, and the murder of six others, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green, there will be many who will use this tragedy to advance their own political agendas.
Explanations will be sought and blame assigned. Necessary questions will be asked: Did the clerk at the Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson violate any laws in selling the Glock 19 9mm gun to the accused, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner? Loughner reportedly cleared an FBI background check. So why didn't that check discover what one Arizona official called Loughner's "mental issues" and should they have disqualified him from purchasing the weapon?
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN treated Arizona's gun laws as a significant contributor to the shootings in Tucson. Correspondent Jessica Yellin prompted the local prosecutor to spout her pro-gun control views. Anchor Brooke Baldwin highlighted a local Republican's gun-toting ad and the infamous clip of an anti-Obama protester carrying a semi-automatic rifle outside a 2009 presidential event in Arizona.
The photo shows Ed Schultz literally pointing the finger at Fox News. On his MSNBC show this evening, Schultz suggested that Fox incites political violence and justified his own heated rhetoric as necessary to combat Fox's supposed dishonesty.
Schultz levelled his accusation in the course of rambling, show-opening, remarks on the Arizona shootings. Schultz also denied that there has been anything violent about his remarks.
After the jump, view the video--and review Schultz's record of violent rhetoric .
ABC, NBC and MSNBC on Monday all eagerly hyped the complaints by an Arizona sheriff that the "anger and bigotry" of everyday Americans contributed to Saturday's shooting. None of the journalists interviewing Clarence Dupnik identified as an elected Democratic official. (ABC's Jake Tapper did in a separate piece.)
Former Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe and lauded Dupnik: "I think in part a lot of public officials are timid. The Pima County Sheriff is not. He is speaking out, and too few others have because they're worried about retribution."
Brokaw, directly making a connection, added, "And that's something that those of us on this side of the camera also have to be thinking about and not just be feeding that. Look, Sarah Palin with "Don't Retreat; Reload," and the crosshairs on the map."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the shootings in Tucscon telling an audience in the United Arab Emirates, "We have extremists in my country" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
With media outlet after media outlet disgracefully accusing the former Alaska governor of inciting Jared Lee Loughner to go on a shooting rampage in Tucson Saturday, Barbara Walters said on "The View," "To blame Sarah Palin as some are doing I think is very unfair to her" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Monday's Today show, NBC's Lee Cowan, inspired by Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's blaming political rhetoric for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, highlighted Sarah Palin's Web site map featuring crosshairs on Giffords' district, as he scolded: "Not since Timothy McVeigh attacked the federal building in Oklahoma City has a crime sparked so much attention on anti-government rhetoric. That map Sarah Palin put up on Facebook last year, targeting Congresswoman Gifford's seat, made Gifford nervous, even then."
To underscore Dupnik's charge about political rhetoric, in addition to citing the Palin crosshairs map, Cowan aired clips from various health care and immigration protests, but paid close attention to those opposed to the Democratic agenda including Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, as seen in the following excerpt:
Managing Editor's Note: Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued the following statement after a thorough, two-day review of how the media have covered the tragic shooting in Arizona.
Implicating a conservative tie to this heinous act of violence or to Jared Lee Loughner, who is no conservative, is nothing short of a naked campaign to criminalize conservative thought.
Sadly, those who point their finger are at the nexus of hypocrisy. Take the unidentified “veteran Democratic strategist” who told Politico that, ‘they need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers … Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.’
Within hours of the mass shooting in Arizona, former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Saturday was offering Barack Obama tips on how to manipulate the outburst of violence for his political advantage.
Making comparisons to Bill Clinton's response to the Oklahoma City bombing, he lobbied, "...Obama may be able to remind voters of what they like best about him: his sensible demeanor. Amid the din and ferocity of our political culture, he respectfully keeps his voice down, his emotions in check and his mind open."
The piece, which appeared on the left-wing Huffington Post, featured this coldly calculating follow-up: "That is the pitch, at least. The trick is to make it without seeming to be trying to make it. He will, after all, be speaking at a funeral."
While many liberal media outlets are obsessing over conservative political rhetoric they insist leads to incidents like the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), the Washington Post today has opted instead to exploit the tragic shooting to push for gun control.
"The early evidence raises questions about mental illness and indiscriminate access to guns," the Post complained in the subheadline to its top January 10 editorial, "Carnage in Arizona.":
The temptation will be, as Arizona and the nation mourn the dead and hope for the recovery of the wounded, to infuse the terrible attack with broader political meaning - to blame the actions of the alleged 22-year-old gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, on a vitriolic political culture laced with violent metaphors and ugly attacks on opponents. Maybe. But metaphors don't kill people - guns kill people.
Of course the Post editorial board went on to see a broader political meaning in the tragedy, namely, the "need" for more gun control:
The recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona were absolutely horrible. Because of the actions of one demented misfit, there is terrible suffering, society has been deprived of productive citizens and families will never be the same.
Jared Loughner was a volatile powder keg that was bound to explode, but the sad fact of the matter is that although there were many people who viewed him as dangerous, nobody could do anything about it.
The bare facts alone are tragic and sordid enough but I noticed that something is creeping into the reporting of the incident. Some of the more left-leaning media would like us to believe that this demented young man went on his murderous spree because he belonged to some fringe far-right organization or had sympathies toward the Tea Party’s political agenda.
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?"
Although your humble correspondent has crossed swords (nanny note: "crossed swords" is strictly a metaphor) with the senior editor of the The New Republic in the past, he highly recommends Jonathan Chait's latest article in The New Republic, "The Arizona Shooting Is Not A Product Of Right-Wing Rage," as required reading for those members of the mainstream media who have blamed the "right-wing" for the shootings of Congresswoman Gabrille Giffords and others in Arizona on Saturday.
Despite the fact that most of Chait's article displayed some refreshing mental clarity I do have some caveats about it because he does revert to slamming conservatives for supposed extremism on other matters. However, those problems with the article aside for the moment, let us first take a look at Chait correctly chastising those quick to blame "right-wingers" for the Arizona shootings:
NBC's Matt Lauer, at the top of Monday's Today show, alerted viewers that Sarah Palin was being drawn into the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as he teased an upcoming Andrea Mitchell story this way: "Sarah Palin has been coming under some criticism. While there is no evidence her Web site featuring a target on Giffords' district had anything to do with this attack, some are asking if today's political rhetoric is inspiring the lunatic fringe?" For her part, Mitchell made sure to point out "while there is no indication that this suspect was inspired...by political speech" she then proceeded to devote most of her story linking Palin to the attack.
In a story entitled, "Crosshairs Controversy, Palin Criticized For 'Targeting Giffords'" Mitchell noted: "The attack has reopened criticism of the way Palin targeted Gabby Giffords and 19 other Democrats in last year's campaign." Mitchell then went on to report that after Giffords' congressional district, along with 20 others, was targeted with crosshairs on a map on Sarah Palin's Web site, "Giffords' Tuscon office was vandalized" and then aired a clip of Giffords slamming Palin.
Reporting on the political fallout of the Tucson shooting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "Now some are questioning whether the increasingly angry tone in politics could have contributed to a culture of violence."
Cordes noted how "members of Congress took their soul searching public, Sunday," followed by sound bites of two Democrats lamenting heated political rhetoric. Cordes observed: "Look no further than recent campaign ads....Filled with images and rhetoric that would once have been considered off limits." Two clips were played as examples, the first from West Virginia Democratic Governor and then Senate candidate Joe Manchin, going after his own party, using a rifle to shoot a bullet through proposed Cap and Trade legislation. Cordes failed to identify Manchin as a Democrat. The other ad was from Alabama Tea Party candidate Rick Barber, with a depiction of Thomas Jefferson calling on conservatives: "Gather your armies."
"I know how the "tea party' people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their 'Obama Plan White Slavery' signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads."
Now that there's a tragedy to be exploited, Milloy today jumped aboard the media's bash-conservatives-for-coarsening-American-political-discussion bandwagon.
In doing so, Milloy didn't disappoint, turning up the nuttiness knob to 11 with his anti-conservative screed, comparing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other conservative Republicans to bloodthirsty gangbangers who inspire violence without having to explicitly authorize it:
Good Morning America's Jake Tapper on Monday provided some balance to the numerous journalists who are attempting to blame the spree shooting in Arizona on Sarah Palin. The ABC journalist said of Jared Loughner, "The shooter's motives remain unclear. One acquaintance from 2007 described him as liberal."
Tapper discussed the "cross hairs" graphic created by Sarah Palin's Political Action Committee in 2010 (which targeted Democrats for political defeat). Unlike other journalists, however, he pointed out that the investigation into Loughner's interest into Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords "ties back to 2007, three years before Palin's map."
As the MRC's Brent Baker reported on Sunday, many network reporters attempted to make a connection between the shooting and Palin, the Tea Partiers and conservatives in general. ABC's graphic on Monday announced, "Politics of Vitriol: Is Rhetoric Getting Too Rough?" Additionally, Tapper played a clip of talk show host Joyce Kaufman asserting, "And if ballots don't work, bullets will."
As media outlet after media outlet advances the bogus theory that Jared Lee Loughner was incited to kill innocent people by the rhetoric of prominent conservatives, details emerging about the life of the Tucson gunman completely refute such assertions.
Adding to the growing list of evidence countering these claims is the following juicy tidbit buried in an Associated Press piece published Sunday (h/t Hot Air):
In the Wall Street Journal, law professor Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit fame, recounts some tactics of the left's ongoing crusade to pin Saturday's tragic Tuscon, Arizona shootings on Sarah Palin. Reynolds recalls points made at NewsBusters and elsewhere, and concludes thusly:
To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?
Sunday’s New York Times led with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a three-term Democrat representing Tucson, in an assassination attempt in which six others were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.
The suspect in custody is 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. The suspect’s Myspace and Youtube pages are filled with crazed syllogisms, dominated by thoughts of mind control. Loughner also recommending a video of an American flag being burned, and is evidently an atheist.
Not exactly the profile of a Sarah Palin fan, right? But that didn’t stop the Times from imposing a “violent rhetoric” template on its front-page Sunday story by Congressional reporter Carl Hulse and Tea Party beat reporter Kate Zernike, “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics.” The unasked for and unprofessional speculation of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (who used the term "vitriol" while going after conservative talk radio and TV) also featured high in the Times's recounting, while Times reporters linked to Palin's now-infamous campaign "target map" from March 2010.
The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics.