The mainstream media acted more like screenwriters than reporters in trying to advance the narrative that conservatives, Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck, and even Sarah Palin should be implicated in the tragic assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) this weekend.
When Giffords first got elected to Congress, she told C-SPAN, in an interview during the swearing-in ceremonies in January of 2007 that “we’re less partisan in Southern Arizona … people are sick and tired of the bickering, the partisanship.”
And when President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Saturday regarding the horrific assassination attempt of Giffords, a Congresswoman who is tough on border security and universally liked by Republicans and Democrats, Obama said, “we do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.”
Yet, in a spirit that went counter to the consensus-building approach that is Giffords’ hallmark and the sentiment echoed by Obama of not yet having all the answers, liberals and the media organizations that often enable and serve as fronts for them spent the weekend engaging in partisan speculation, based on no facts, that implicated conservatives and those associated with the Tea Party movement.
Media networks endlessly played Giffords telling MSNBC last fall that “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action,” which was in reference to a list of 20 Representatives Palin had “targeted” for electoral defeat during the midterm elections.
The mainstream media used this as a springboard to speculate — and, implicate by association — whether Palin and the Tea Party movement with which she aligned herself caused Jared Loughner to shoot Giffords.
A Democratic official told Politico on Sunday that “they need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers … just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
In an op-ed in the liberal Huffington Post, Gary Hart wrote, “Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.”
Markos Moulitsas, of the liberal Daily Kos, tweeted that Sarah Palin had accomplished her mission, forgetting the fact that he himself had “targeted” Giffords to be primaried. Jane Fonda immediately blamed Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Glenn Beck, forgetting the fact that, by logic, she would be responsible for the deaths of American servicemen in Vietnam.
And Pima County Sheriff Charles Dupnik interjected politics into the Giffords investigation by using the perch afforded him due to this senseless tragedy by calling Arizona a “mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”
Yet, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed he penned in May of 2010 against Arizona’s S.B. 1070, Dupnik made his politics apparent, writing that, “the immigration reform law that was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23 effectively requires that immigrants be able to prove their legal presence in the state of Arizona. I have argued from the moment that this bill was signed that it is unnecessary, that it is a travesty, and most significantly, that it is unconstitutional.”
On CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday, Sen Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said that Dupnik’s comments were “inappropriate” and “I didn’t really think that that had any part in a law enforcement briefing.”
And in a “Special Comment,” on Saturday, Keith Olbermann said that Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the “violent-inciting rhetoric of the Tea Party” was responsible for Giffords’ being shot, and that anyone who does not “repudiate” these figures silently condones and defends such violence and should be dismissed.
These comments and implications were made even though very few facts about Loughner were known. It has come to light that Loughner caused disturbances at his community college and was recommended for a mental examination. A classmate of his, Caitie Parker, tweeted that he was “left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy” when she knew him in 2007 in addition to being an “anti-flag” “Pothead” who was also “reclusive” and a “loner.”
Yet when networks such as NBC and ABC interviewed Parker, none of those networks asked about Loughner’s alleged political philosophy even though reporters from both stations openly speculated, without facts, whether Tea Partiers and conservatives should be implicated in the shooting. And when the mainstream media collectively floods the airwaves with such implications, it resonates and cuts through many filters.
In fact, in a webcast sponsored by ABC and the social networking site Facebook, Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg revealed that the top question being asked on Facebook was “Is Sarah Palin to blame?”
In the weeks ahead, much may be reveled about Loughner and his motives. In the meantime, the rampant speculation by the mainstream regarding Loughner’s motives is as irresponsible as the “vitriol” that those in the mainstream media often decry.