ABC's Jake Tapper Pokes Holes in Attempts to Blame Conservatives for Arizona Shooting

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."

However, he balanced that out by reading from conservative Glenn Reynolds, writing in Monday's Wall Street Journal. Tapper repeated, "He says, 'Those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America's political well being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.'"

Additionally, when referring to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and his incendiary comments that this act of violence could be linked to those that would "inflame" with their political speech, Tapper made sure to identify him as an "elected Democrat."

A transcript of the January 10 segment, which aired at 7:45am EST, follows:


ROBIN ROBERTS: This weekend's shooting and tragic shooting and assassination attempt of Representative Giffords has ignited a firestorm over the power of heated political rhetoric and whether it played some role in the violence. Jake Tapper much more on this.

ABC GRAPHIC: Politics of Vitriol: Is Rhetoric Getting Too Rough?

JAKE TAPPER: The sheriff in Tucson, an elected Democrat, immediately suggested that political rhetoric played a role in the massacre.

SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK (Pima County, AZ Sheriff's Department): To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week has impact on people.

TAPPER: And there is no shortage of examples of heated rhetoric.

JOYCE KAUFMAN (Florida talk show host): And if ballots don't work, bullets will.

TAPPER: But, exhibit A for many Democrats is Sarah Palin, who last spring targeted for defeat Giffords' district and 19 others with this imagery. One columnist says she has blood on her hands.

PALIN: Don't retreat, reload. And that is not a call for violence!

TAPPER: Giffords, for one, was not buying it.

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ): We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list. But, the thing is, that the way she has it depicted has the cross-hair of a gun sight over our district. And when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.

TAPPER: There's no evidence that the shooter even heard of Sarah Palin. And Palin aide Rebecca Mansour in a podcast interview says the image was not violent.

REBECCA MANSOUR (Sarah PAC): We never, ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply cross-hairs like you'd see on maps.

TAPPER: The shooter's motives remain unclear. One acquaintance from 2007 described him as liberal. Democrats say, regardless, the rhetoric has to be civil.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): You just never know what words are going to set off someone who is mentally unstable. And we have to be careful with our choice of words all the time.

TAPPER: But in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Robin, conservative writer Glenn Reynolds calls this call this hypocrisy. He says, "Those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America's political well being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder." And, of course, Robin, we know from the investigation that the shooter's interest in Gabrielle Giffords, Congresswoman Giffords, ties back to 2007, three years before Palin's map. Back to you, Robin.

ROBERTS: And we also know that he did act alone.

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