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.
As we move into the second day following the horrendous attack on innocent citizens in Tucson, Arizona, the media's blame game continues.
Although the New York Times editorial board stopped short of claiming Republicans and the Tea Party were responsible for inciting Jared Lee Loughner to commit this heinous crime, the Gray Lady made it clear it feels the Right are the cause of a "gale of anger" dangerously sweeping the nation:
As NewsBusters has been reporting, the Gabrielle Giffords shooting blame game has been in full swing since the moment shots were fired in Tucson Saturday.
With this in mind, Howard Kurtz invited conservative talk radio host Steve Malzberg and Mediaite editor-at-large Rachel Sklar on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" to fight over whether all the finger-pointing at right-wing figures like Sarah Palin is justified or another example of media madness (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Since making his claim Saturday that the Tucson shootings were caused by "vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business," Pima County Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has become a media darling being regularly quoted by press outlets from coast to coast.
On Sunday, during strong questioning from Fox News's Megyn Kelly, Dupnik admitted that his department has not uncovered one shred of evidence to support his now well-publicized assertion (video follows with partial transcript and commentary, relevant section at 1:55):
“The shooter’s motivation is still unknown,” Katie Couric announced as she anchored Saturday’s CBS Evening News, but that didn’t deter CBS, nor CNN, NBC and ABC on Saturday night and into Sunday morning from forwarding attempts to blame Sarah Palin and, by implication, the Tea Party, for the Tucson shooting.
“Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in cross hairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring,” CBS’s Nancy Cordes declared in referring to a political map, adding that “Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery.” Hours later on CNN, Jessica Yellin noted “we don't know the motive” before she proceeded to raise how “on Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of talk, in particular, about Sarah Palin.” On Sunday’s Today, leading into a clip about Palin, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell asserted: “Giffords, a conservative Democrat, was concerned about heated campaign rhetoric from the Tea Party.”
ABC connected Palin to the Wild West, as David Wright reported on This Week:
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords liked to joke that her district includes Tombstone and the OK Corral. Until yesterday morning, most people here would have said that rogue gunslingers were part of the distant past. On election night in November, 18 of the politicians in the crosshairs of Sarah Palin's political action committee lost, but not Gabby Giffords.
Audio:MP3 clip, matches 2:45 video below compilation of six soundbites.
24 hours after the senseless killings in Tucson, Arizona, liberal media members are still convinced Jared Lee Loughner was somehow motivated by inflammatory comments he recently heard or read.
Despite there still being absolutely no evidence that this is the case, CBS's Bob Schieffer concluded Sunday's "Face the Nation" making the same silly point (video follows with transcript and commentary):
With the claim that “we cannot walk away from this one” the newspaper rails against the tone of America’s political rhetoric, to end the fear-mongering and “quit the demonizing”. And then in an incredibly inane example of ideological laziness the editorial demonizes “the right” for the tragic shooting.
A conservative writer likely unknown to most NewsBusters readers scolded Politico's Roger Simon Sunday for trying to connect Sarah Palin to yesterday's shootings in Tucson, Arizona.
Surrounded by liberals on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle said what would be obvious to most journalists if they weren't always so quick to tie extreme acts of violence committed by a white male to prominent right-wing figures (video follows with transcript and commentary):
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.
It has become apparent in the last 24 hours that the mainstream media is bent on attributing some level of blame for yesterday's tragic shooting in Tuscon, Arizona to Sarah Palin. The chief piece of evidence for this claim is a map SarahPAC devised that placed crosshairs over a number of congressional districts the group would target during the 2010 election cycle.
But if violent metaphors in political rhetoric drive crazy people to violence, than the media had better save some blame for themselves, since political reporting is replete with such language (Howard Kurtz noted that fact in his column today). Here are just a few examples:
The colossal double standard revealed in the past 24 hours at CNN is a microcosm of the larger media reaction to the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords yesterday. In short, the reporters jumping at the chance to use the shooting to score points against conservatives would in all likelihood be demanding patience and temperance if the potential for political cheap shots weren't available.
The Washington Examiner's Byron York recalled CNN's reaction to the Fort Hood shooting in a post Sunday. The cable channel "became a forum for repeated warnings that the subject should be discussed with particular care."
As NewsBusters has been reporting since Saturday's tragic shooting spree happened in Tucson, liberal media members have predictably blamed the incident on prominent conservatives, in particular former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Appearing as almost the lone voice of reason, the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz Saturday evening denounced his colleagues for behaving so unprofessionally (photo courtesy AP):
Count National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill as one leftist who will quickly and easily blame the horrific shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others on Saturday on GOP Members of Congress, and still unproven Tea Party racial slurs yelled at Rep. John Lewis and the withdrawn claims of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver that he was spat upon purposely. O'Neill's press statement began by blaming Sarah Palin:
NOW condemns the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that stole six lives and seriously injured 12 today. We condemn, equally, the culture of hate and violence increasingly reflected in extreme right-wing opponents of those who support progressive solutions to our country's challenges.
Rep. Giffords, whose office was vandalized after she voted for the federal health care reform law last year, was also named on Sarah Palin's "Targeted" list. Giffords (who has been consistently endorsed by NOW's PAC) herself understood the not-so-well veiled threat, stating "the thing is that the way she [Palin] has it depicted, we're in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize that there are consequences to that action."
As he hosted a special two-hour edition of Countdown on Saturday night to cover the violent attack on Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann ended up delivering a "Special Comment" in which he called for an end to the use of violent imagery by political figures of all ideologies, even apologizing for his own history, but he also at one point seemed to describe Sarah Palin and other conservative public figures as "slightly less madmen" than the gunman who attacked Giffords. Olbermann:
We will not because tonight what Mrs. Palin and what Mr. Kelly and what Congressman West and what Ms. Angle and what Mr. Beck and what Mr. O'Reilly and what you and I must understand was that the man who fired today did not fire at a Democratic Congresswoman and her supporters. He was not just a madman incited by 1,000 daily temptations by slightly less madmen to do things they would not rationally condone.
Although the MSNBC host only provided one example of his own past misdeeds - which involved a comment he made about Hillary Clinton in April 2008 - Olbermann’s own history also includes a June 2006 case in which he depicted an image of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh as a target of gunfire, and in October 2008 when he showed a cartoon image of FNC’s Bill O’Reilly being beaten bloody by the Stewie Griffin character from a Family Guy DVD extra scene. And just in November of last year, Olbermann complained that President Obama would likely negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over tax policy "instead of kicking him in the ass."
While Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) fights for her life in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital, liberal media members continue to point fingers of blame for Saturday's tragic shooting spree at prominent conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck.
Jumping on this pathetic bandwagon Saturday was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:
Capitalizing on the shooting in Tucson this afternoon, CBS furthered the lunatic left rhetoric that Sarah Palin was somehow responsible for this heinous crime. The theory being that the shooter was inspired by Palin’s midterm election map, which featured Gabrielle Giffords as a potential target.
“…critics of Sarah Palin have already drawn a link between the shooting and the fact that the former Alaska governor put Giffords on a "target list" of lawmakers Palin wanted to see unseated in the midterm elections.”
It’s a little concerning that CBS would fall for such a disgusting attempt to point the finger at Sarah Palin, a theory being perpetrated by liberal bloggers. But more concerning are the critics being cited in the article – commenters on Palin’s Facebook page. Impressive bit of journalism.
The first comment reads:
"What a hypocrite you are. You targeted this woman - literally with a target on her district - one of your freaky Fox followers hunted her down - and now you try to distance yourself from blame."