Network Journalists Advance Leftist Wish to Blame Palin (and Tea Party) for Shooting

“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.

 

 

Wright elaborated: “In 2009 after one of her town hall meetings on health care reform, they found a gun someone had left behind. Last March after Congress passed health care reform, someone shot out the glass door of her Tucson office. In the midterms when Palin's PAC put her district literally in the cross hairs, Giffords strongly objected to that imagery.”

Over on CBS’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer cued up House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer with how “Congresswoman Giffords had received threats before,” including “when she showed up on Sarah Palin's political action committee Web site as one of those who had been targeted for defeat, it shows her in the cross hairs there.”

From the Saturday, January 8 CBS Evening News:

NANCY CORDES: Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in cross hairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery.

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ) ON MARCH 25 DAILY RUNDOWN ON MSNBC: The way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district, and when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.

CORDES: Palin posted this note on her Facebook page today: “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.”

From CNN’s 10 PM EST hour Saturday night:

JESSICA YELLIN: Even though, as you point out, this suspect is not cooperating with investigators, so we don't know the motive. President Obama also delivered that message, saying it's partly the political rhetoric that led to this. So that's why we want to bring up one of the themes that's burning up the social media right now. On Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of talk, in particular, about Sarah Palin. As you might recall, back in March of last year, when the health care vote was coming to the floor of the House and this was all heating up, Palin tweeted out a message on Twitter saying “common sense conservatives, don't retreat -- instead reload.” And she referred folks to her Facebook page. On that Facebook page was a list of Democratic members she was putting in cross hairs, and Gabrielle Giffords was one of those in the cross hairs....

I should point out that Republican leaders in Washington have said that this is not a partisan issue, this is about violence, as have some Tea Party groups. But clearly this is a moment to talk about our political rhetoric.

WOLF BLITZER: It certainly is, but the question is, is there any evidence that the suspected shooter in this particular case was a Sarah Palin fan, read Sarah Palin's website, was a member on Facebook, watched her tweets, or anything like that?

YELLIN: Absolutely not. None at all and there is no evidence that this was even inspired by rage over health care, broadly. So there is no overt connection at all between Sarah Palin, health care...

NBC’s Today, Sunday, January 9:

KELLY O’DONNEL: Giffords, a conservative Democrat, was concerned about heated campaign rhetoric from the Tea Party.

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS ON MSNBC: We’re on Sarah Palin's targeted list. But the thing is the way she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that you got to realize there are consequences to that action.


ABC’s This Week:

DAVID WRIGHT: 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 cross hairs of Sarah Palin's political action committee lost, but not Gabby Giffords....

In 2009 after one of her town hall meetings on health care reform, they found a gun someone had left behind. Last March after Congress passed health care reform, someone shot out the glass door of her Tucson office. In the midterms when Palin's PAC put her district literally in the cross hairs, Giffords strongly objected to that imagery.

CBS’s Face the Nation:

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Congresswoman Giffords had received threats before. That's something that we might have overlooked here. Her office was trashed during the health care debate. When she showed up on Sarah Palin's political action committee Web site as one of those who had been targeted for defeat, it shows her in the cross hairs there. She warned herself that this kind of thing could have serious repercussions.

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center