Sarah Palin’s use in a video commentary of the “blood libel” phrase, against those exploiting the Tucson shooting in order to discredit her, inflamed television journalists with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell ridiculously highlighting on Wednesday’s Nightly News how “more than 375,000 people have expressed their views in an online poll on MSNBC.com” and “nearly 59 percent do not agree with Palin.” As if MSNBC.com attracts any kind of representative audience.
On the CBS Evening News, Chip Reid maintained: “She ignited a new controversy by using the term ‘blood libel,’ which refers to false allegations from the Middle Ages that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies.” Claire Shipman, on ABC’s World News, relayed how “she uses a phrase many view as particularly incendiary, ‘blood libel.’”
Mitchell asserted “Palin’s response is now setting off more controversy” as evidenced by how “the Internet was immediately on fire over two words in her speech, ‘blood libel,’ a central myth of anti-Semitism” which “is offensive say critics.”
The MSNBC.com question Mitchell found relevant:
Sarah Palin said the responsibility for the Arizona shootings rests solely with the alleged shooter and blamed “journalists and pundits” for manufacturing a “blood libel” by blaming it on political rhetoric. Do you agree?
# Yes -- There is no evidence that the accused shooter had any political motives and blaming his actions on words used by Palin and others is a way to score political points.
# No -- Regardless of the motive involved, political rhetoric has become too destructive in recent years and the use of a term like “blood libel” only makes it worse.
# I’m not sure -- Our national leaders do need to be more careful about the words they use but it’s also unfair to single out certain individuals for statements or imagery that are also used by others.
From the Wednesday, January 12 NBC Nightly News:
ANDREA MITCHELL: ...Palin’s response is now setting off more controversy....But the Internet was immediately on fire over two words in her speech, “blood libel," a central myth of anti-Semitism used in the Middle Ages to justify the massacre of Jews by falsely accusing them of using the blood of slain Christian children for rituals. A Wall Street Journal opinion column also used the phrase Monday to defend Palin's gun rhetoric. Was that Palin's inspiration? In both cases, it is offensive say critics.
SIMON GREER, JEWISH FUNDS FOR JUSTICE: It's been the basis for terrible anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish fervor over the ages and through the centuries.
DAVID REMNICK, THE NEW YORKER: I don't know why she could use that phrase. Ignorance may be the best of not a particularly satisfying explanation for it.
MITCHELL: Some Republicans say it also raise questions about Palin's small group of advisers.
VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Is that operation going to aimed at making her into a genuine national leader or simply to enhancing her role as the leader of a faction within the Republican Party?
MITCHELL: Palin supporters say she is right to defend her gun rhetoric because it is central to who she is, not inflammatory.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, ON HIS RADIO SHOW: Sarah Palin, I don't know what she was doing Saturday. All I know, she was hunting a moose, maybe watching football, but I know that she wasn’t in Tucson.
MITCHELL: Since Palin's video went up just this morning, more than 375,000 people have expressed their views in an online poll on MSNBC.com. That's not scientific, but nearly 59 percent do not agree with Palin. Brian?
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.