Howard Kurtz Denounces Media for Blaming Giffords Shooting on Palin

January 9th, 2011 10:16 AM

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):

One of the first to be dragged into this sickening ritual of guilt by association: Sarah Palin. Last March, the former Alaska governor posted a map on her Facebook page with crosshair targets representing 20 Democratic lawmakers she was singling out for defeat after they voted for President Obama's health care plan. One of them was Giffords. Palin, who touts her caribou-hunting heritage, also tweeted, "Don't retreat, RELOAD!"

This kind of rhetoric is highly unfortunate. The use of the crosshairs was dumb. But it's a long stretch from such excessive language and symbols to holding a public official accountable for a murderer who opens fire on a political gathering and kills a half-dozen people, including a 9-year-old girl.

Kurtz then pointed out what so many of his colleagues chose to ignore Saturday in their zeal to turn this matter into a call to silence conservatives:

Let's be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn't act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence? [...]

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann made the link even more explicit on Saturday night: "If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics."

Actually, the hypocrisy on display during Olbermann's two-hour special Saturday evening was even grander than Kurtz shared with his readers for the "Countdown" host - and Kurtz as it turns out - ignored how Markos Moulitsas of the far-left website Daily Kos targeted and put a bull's eye on Giffords for being a Blue Dog Democrat back in June 2008.

This seemed especially dishonest of Olbermann who has been a frequent contributor to Daily Kos.

Unfortunately, Kurtz omitted this factoid from his critique, while also ignoring the implications revealed Saturday that Giffords' assailant was a liberal.

One such claim came from an alleged friend of the shooter who tweeted about Jared Lee Loughner's political leanings shortly after the incident. 

The New York Times included this revelation in its piece about Loughner published Saturday evening:

Another former high school classmate said that Mr. Loughner may have met Representative Giffords, who was shot in the head outside the Safeway supermarket, several years ago.

“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” the former classmate, Caitie Parker, wrote in a series of Twitter feeds Saturday. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”

“He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent,’ ” she wrote.

Her claims were all over the blogosphere pretty early on Saturday, yet folks like Olbermann and all the others that were quick to blame Palin totally ignored it. For his part, Olbermann also pointed his pathetic finger at Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sharron Angle, Jesse Kelly, Alan West, and the Tea Party without making it clear to his viewers the leftist leanings of the assailant.

Instead, Olbermann brought on well-known liberals like the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall to parrot the "Countdown" host's totally unfounded view that these shootings were caused by conservatives.

As a result, MSNBC viewers on Saturday evening were treated to two hours during prime time of completely one-sided, biased, incomplete, and therefore totally misleading reporting on this event that rocked the nation.

The good folks at MSNBC, NBC, GE and Comcast should be so proud of themselves.

As for Kurtz, he concluded his critique:

I find it depressing beyond belief.

This isn't about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it's about a lone nutjob who doesn't value human life. It would be nice if we briefly put aside partisan differences and came together with sympathy and support for Gabby Giffords and the other victims, rather than opening rhetorical fire ourselves.

Actually, it's about a lot more than that, Howie, as quite predictably, folks like Olbermann, the New York Times' Paul Krugman, and Jane Fonda are trying to use this sad event as an opportunity to silence conservative voices in this nation.

It was fairly clear to anyone with an above room temperature intelligence quotient from the moment this story broke that liberal media members would immediately point fingers at conservatives. I was actually counting the minutes before the first such accusations were lodged, and was by no means surprised by what ensued.

I even asked my followers on Twitter if they cared to bet whether or not Olbermann would blame the whole thing on conservatives. This led Olbermann to respond, "I think you will be shocked by my conclusions. I hope you'll listen before you condemn."

No, I'm not shocked, Keith.

He did exactly what I expected which much like Kurtz leaves me feeling depressed beyond belief for I fear this incident is going to become a clarion call by folks like Olbermann and his ilk to further push for censorship of conservative views on the airwaves.

That's been their goal for years, and if they can dishonestly convince enough people that this Giffords tragedy was caused by Fox News and right-wing talk show hosts, this could be the lightning rod the anti-free speech movement has been waiting for.

As such, while you pray for those involved in this massacre and their families, please also ask the Lord to not let folks like Olbermann, Krugman, and Fonda succeed with their dastardly plan.

(H/T Hot Air)