MSNBC featured author Adam Lankford on Tuesday to wonder about the "message" of the Boston bomber. Was it to "complain about abortion, about taxes?" The guest, labeled a "MSNBC analyst," guessed, "This did happen on tax day in Boston, the place of the Tea Party." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
He continued the reckless speculation: "Or are they trying to protest, you know, foreign wars or something?" Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, has written a book on what makes suicide bombers and rampage shooters do what do. He theorized, "The interesting thing is, this is someone on a stage trying to make a statement and that statement has been lost."
This led Lankford into his completely baseless musing about motives: " We don't know whether they're trying to complain about abortion, about taxes." Yes, the bomber (or bombers) could have done it for any number of reasons. That's the point: We don't know.
Cycle co-host Krystal Ball set the whole discussion up by wondering about the difference between someone who "doesn't plan for an escape, versus someone like this person or persons who seem to at least, have wanted to get away with it and escape?"
Immediately after the bombing occured on Monday, journalists began to speculate with no evidence.
A partial transcript of the April 16 segment is below:
S.E. CUPP: Why? Why would someone do this? To help answer that question, we bring in Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Adam Lankford. The author of The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters and Other Destructive Killer. Adam, let me start with you. From what we know about these types of attacks, are we likely to find a perpetrator or pep traitors who are alive or dead?
ADAM LANKFORD: Oh, I think in this case, it is pretty clear that these perpetrators wanted to attack and survive. And that may have been one of the main appeals of a place like the Boston marathon. For years, we've feared that suicide attackers would strike at a sporting event like the Super Bowl where they would attract a national audience. In this particular case, the benefit of attacking somewhere like the Boston marathon is you can slip in. You can plant your bombs and you can slip out. My sense is that these people desperately wanted to survive and they're probably, or the individual, is probably somewhere today saying, I hope I got away with it. I hope I can get away.
KRYSTAL BALL: Is there a difference in mentality, goals, mind set between someone who does want to be a suicide bomber or doesn't plan for an escape, versus someone like this person or persons who seem to at least, have wanted to get away with it and escape?
LANKFORD: Yeah. Generally speaking, people who plan to attack and then get away with it are psychologically much more normal, more normal than suicide bombers. So they're basically carrying out these reasonably rational attacks to try to have a political effect as opposed to suicide bombers who are really overwhelmed by psychological problems. What that tells us about this kind of attacker is that we can kind of put ourselves in his shoes and say, what would we have been concerned about if we were carrying out this attack? How would we have tried to similarly preserve ourselves to engage in a survival instinct to attack, to get away, and to ultimately make a statement? The interesting thing is, this is someone on a stage trying to make a statement and that statement has been lost. We don't know whether they're trying to complain about abortion, about taxes. This did happen on tax day in Boston, the place of the Tea Party. Or are they trying to protest, you know, foreign wars or something? That statement has been completely lost.