First Impulse: Let’s Blame Conservatives
Arizona Daily Star columnist/cartoonist David Fitzsimmons: “I must tell you as a columnist who has covered politics in this state, it was inevitable, from my perspective.”
Anchor Martin Savidge: “Why do you say that?”
Fitzsimmons: “Because the right in Arizona, and I’m speaking very broadly, has been stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage successfully in this state….The politics of the state does tend to be far to the right. I would say even rabid right.”
— Exchange at about 2:30pm ET during CNN’s live coverage of the Giffords shooting, January 8. Fitzsimmons later conceded his remarks were “inappropriate.”
“Remember, this is the deepest fear that was in the back of everybody’s mind going through the health care debate. A lot of members were threatened. Congresswoman Giffords’ windows at her district office were broken….There is [sic] a lot of fringe groups that were very upset with the health care law, felt that the federal government was overstepping its bounds, and that was in — within everyone’s mind. It looks sadly like it’s come to fruition today.”
— NBC/MSNBC correspondent Luke Russert during MSNBC live coverage at about 3:30pm ET January 8.
“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before….Her father says that ‘the whole Tea Party’ was her enemy. And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘crosshairs’ list. Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing….Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”
— New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a 3:22pm ET January 8 blog posting, less than two hours after news broke of Giffords’ shooting.
Smarmily Singling Out Sarah Palin
“You know, Congresswoman Giffords had received threats before. That’s something that we might have overlooked here. Her office was trashed during the health care debate. When she showed up on Sarah Palin’s political action committee Web site as one of those who had been targeted for defeat, it shows her in the crosshairs there. She warned herself that this kind of thing could have serious repercussions.”
— CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, January 9.
Whatever the Shooter’s Motive, We’re Going to Bash Palin
“While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained anti-government ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture….Ms. Giffords was also among a group of Democratic House candidates featured on the Web site of Sarah Palin’s political action committee with crosshairs over their districts, a fact that disturbed Ms. Giffords at the time.”
— New York Times reporters Carl Hulse and Kate Zernike in a January 9 front-page item, “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics.”
The Tucson Shooting: Let’s Blame Talk Radio
“What’s been the role of talk radio in fueling the heated language?…People like Mark Levin, Michael Savage, for example who every time you listen to them are furious, furious at the Left with anger that just builds and builds in their voice, and by the time they go to commercial, they’re just in some rage, every night, with ugly talk. Ugly sounding talk. And it never changes. It never modulates…. They do see the other end of the field as evil, as awful. Not just disagreeable but evil. And they use that language, when they talk about the other side, isn’t that part of the problem? And my question is doesn’t that give the moral license to people who have crazy minds to start with?”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, January 11.
New York Times Double Standard on Jumping to Conclusions
“It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge….That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of ‘the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.’”
— January 10 New York Times editorial, “Bloodshed and Invective in Arizona.”
“In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East. President Obama was right when he told Americans, ‘we don’t know all the answers yet’ and cautioned everyone against ‘jumping to conclusions.’”
— From a November 7, 2009 New York Times editorial after the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.