4 Reasons Why the MSM Botched the Tuscon Massacre, and Why they Owe the Victims and Sarah Palin an Apology

[H/T Toby Toons for the image.]

This past week in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner (that killed six people and wounded nine others–including the congresswoman), the mainstream/liberal media instantly pounced on “the violent rhetoric” by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party as the cause of Loughner’s mad shooting spree. Oh, and they did this within half an hour of the victims being shot, before any of the facts of the case had come in. To be specific, the likes of Andrew Sullivan (he of “Trig Truther” fame), Markos Moulitsas, Matthew Yeglesias, Paul Krugman, The New York Times Editorial Board and just about everyone at MSNBC immediately implied that “right-wing rhetoric”, and specifically Sarah Palin, were accessories to this tragedy. In fact, Markos Moulitsas even went so far as to tweet out “Mission Accomplished Sarah Palin” immediately after the shooting, and blamed her based an obscure map that she had put out almost year ago on her Facebook page “targeting” certain districts for the 2010 election. To quote Alex Knepper, according to liberals, “Guns don’t kill people, Sarah Palin’s metaphors do”. (See an image of her Facebook map below.)

Except that it didn’t take conservative bloggers long to learn that the Democrats had put up a similar “target” map in 2009 (before Palin did) stating which Republicans they wanted to “target” for opposing the now infamous stimulus bill.

Furthermore, as Patterico points out Markos Moulitsas, himself, put a bulls-eye on Gifford’s district (because she’s a moderate Democrat).

Then, Michelle Malkin responded by cataloging all of the shockingly hateful and violent rhetoric towards Sarah Palin and John McCain courtesy of the Left–not to mention, she unearthed a plethora of leftist assassination fantasies about President Bush. (H/T Karl–be sure to read his excellent column.)

And finally, Bill O’Reilly swung into action by promptly calling out the left-wing charlatans participating in this hateful farce. Moreover, O’Reilly pointed out how Democrats have no problem using gun metaphors–and how Joe Manchin even shot the stimulus bill in an ad–and, that MSNBC is actually ground zero for hateful rhetoric. (Hat tip to Allahpundit for the video.)

[“Oopsy daisies. Quick, quick–backtrack in the other direction! Let’s now just denounce all heated rhetoric and free political speech.”]

So now it’s official–court is in session and the verdict is in. According to public opinion polls, the MSM has “botched the coverage” of the Tuscon shooting by immediately and ignorantly blaming “right-wing rhetoric”. However, what’s even further evidence that the MSM has disgraced themselves with their coverage of the Arizona shooting, is that many liberal pundits are now calling out the MSM/liberal media for it’s repugnant coverage–not to mention, in his speech, President Obama wisely cautioned people against blaming “incivility” for the tragedy.

For instance, Jon Stewart, Jack Shafer of Slate, and T.A. Frank of The New Republic all blasted the liberal MSM meme of blaming “conservative rhetoric” for causing the Tuscon tragedy (T.A. Frank wrote that the MSM “botched the coverage”). Furthermore, Kirsten Powers came out with a column in The Daily Beast where she wrote that President Obama didn’t go far enough in his speech to “shut down the nonsense about how Sarah Palin or right-wing talkers caused the shooting.” Moreover, Democratic strategist Pat Caddell referred to Paul Krugman as….well, let’s just say a “sphincter” for writing that God-awful column where he blamed conservatives for the Tuscon murders (the column that O’Reilly easily debunked above). To be specific, Caddell said the following:

“People are dead, and the first thing they have to do is go to politics. No wonder the country hates the media.”

And finally, yesterday, Charles Blow (yeah, the guy that called minorities in theTea Party “a minstrel show”), wrote a column where he accused the Left of participating in “a witch hunt” after the Tuscon shooting spree.

So, now the question becomes, not, “Did the media botch the Arizona shooting?” (the obvious answer to that question is, “Yes”)–but rather, “Why did the media botch the coverage of the AZ shooting”? Well, after giving it much thought, I have come up with four reasons why the liberal MSM disgraced themselves so badly with regard to the AZ massacre.

1.) Many liberals are elitists and automatically assume that they are the smartest people in the room, so, therefore, they can get caught mindlessly flapping their gums on a subject about which they know very little.

I know nothing about ichthyology or rocket science, so therefore, I would never go on national television and try to sell myself as an expert on ichthyology or rocket science. However, this past week, there were a plethora of liberals on TV speaking about mental illness as if they were psychiatrists (stating that “angry rhetoric set off the killer”). Well, Charles Krauthammer (who is a Harvard trained psychiatrist) explained Jared Lee Loughner’s state of mind best when he wrote the following in a recent column:

“The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the “climate of hate” created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.

The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings – and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him – there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.

A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate. “His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world,” said the teacher of Loughner’s philosophy class at Pima Community College. “He was very disconnected from reality,” said classmate Lydian Ali. “You know how it is when you talk to someone who’s mentally ill and they’re just not there?” said neighbor Jason Johnson. “It was like he was in his own world.”

His ravings, said one high school classmate, were interspersed with “unnerving, long stupors of silence” during which he would “stare fixedly at his buddies,” reported the Wall Street Journal. His own writings are confused, incoherent, punctuated with private numerology and inscrutable taxonomy. He warns of government brainwashing and thought control through “grammar.” He was obsessed with “conscious dreaming,” a fairly good synonym for hallucinations.

This is not political behavior. These are the signs of a clinical thought disorder – ideas disconnected from each other, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality.

These are all the hallmarks of a paranoid schizophrenic. And a dangerous one. A classmate found him so terrifyingly mentally disturbed that, she e-mailed friends and family, she expected to find his picture on TV after his perpetrating a mass murder. This was no idle speculation: In class “I sit by the door with my purse handy” so that she could get out fast when the shooting began.

Furthermore, the available evidence dates Loughner’s fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to at least 2007, when he attended a town hall of hers and felt slighted by her response. In 2007, no one had heard of Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck was still toiling on Headline News. There was no Tea Party or health-care reform. The only climate of hate was the pervasive post-Iraq campaign of vilification of George W. Bush, nicely captured by a New Republic editor who had begun an article thus: “I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it.”

Now, if any of you still have any doubts as to Mr. Loughner’s state of mind, then look no further than the video below where Loughner rambles in a disconnected stream of consciousness about “the torture of students”, “illegal wars”, “mind control by using currency”, “losing his freedom of speech”, his school being a “genocide school”, how “they control the grammar” at the school bookstore….well, you get the picture. The saddest part of the video is halfway through where Mr. Loughner utters the phrase, “I’m in a terrible place”. I have no doubt in my mind that he was/is. (H/T to The Other McCain for the video.)

On a personal note, in my third year of medical school, I did a psychiatry rotation. Now, I would never pretend to know as much about psychiatry as Dr. Krauthammer, but do I know a heck of a lot more than the average MSNBC pundit. In my psych rotation, I saw plenty of paranoid schizophrenic patients. I saw patients who called 911 when they had a bad dream, because they thought they were being murdered. I saw patients who thought that the Bush Administration was out to get them, because of something as simple as maybe a policeman giving them a ticket. And, I saw patients who threatened their spouses with weapons, but couldn’t tell you why they did it. Oh, and I even read about a patient in a medical journal who would see a python on the wall, in place of a curtain rod, if the patient missed their meds. So basically, what I’m trying to tell you is that both nothing and everything sets these patients off. You can ban target maps, Glenn Beck, Moveon.org, policemen giving people tickets, 911 calls, dreaming and curtain rods; however, unless these patients get the help that they need and are properly medicated, they will still have uncontrollable psychotic episodes.

Robert Stacy McCain has done some excellent work on his blog this week reporting on the sanity component of this story. And, one of the things that McCain reported on was the fact that Jared Lee Loughner took Salvia and watched a paranoid 9/11 truther film called Zeitgeist. However, taking Salvia and watching Zeitgeist didn’t make Loughner crazy–Loughner was already mentally unstable, which is why he became obsessed with Zeitgeist and self-medicated with Salvia in the first place.

Does anyone remember James Lee, the mentally unstable man who took hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters and was eventually shot by the police? Lee claimed that he was motivated by Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. You didn’t see conservatives blaming Al Gore for that insane act, did you? That is because A.) it goes against our nature to try to blame people after a tragedy (as if anyone had any control over Lee’s actions in the first place)–or try to ban things, like documentaries or political speech–and B.) because Lee didn’t become crazy by watching An Inconvenient Truth. He was already mentally unstable, which is why he became obsessed with An Inconvenient Truth in the first place. You see, a sane mind can take in all kinds of information and stimuli, and it won’t drive him or her to murder.

2.) It is the raison d’etre of many liberals to control people. They think that if they can control more people and create a larger nanny state, then they can stop bad things from happening.

Don’t believe me? Well then, just take a look at the recent ban on Happy Meals in San Francisco as proof. (The video below is hilarious.)

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San Francisco’s Happy Meal Ban
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You see, a lot of liberals have good intentions. They think that if they ban Happy Meals, then there won’t be anymore obese children. However, what they don’t realize (and what I learned on my pediatrics rotation in medical school) is that most obese children have obese parents, and consume the majority of their fatty foods at home.

Liberals also think that if they ban guns, then crime will automatically go down. However, what they don’t realize is that criminals still will find a way to get guns, and then 76 year old men will become defenseless prey to street gangs.

So therefore, it’s only natural for liberals to also think that if they can control what people, say, watch or listen to, then that will somehow stop paranoid schizophrenics from going on murder sprees. (Well, not what they say so much–just what you say. Liberals want to be able to use “target” maps and have pundits on MSNBC be able to use incendiary rhetoric–they just don’t want you to be able to do the same thing, because….well, you know, they are just so much smarter and more enlightened than you, so they can do it, but you can’t.)

Liberals always talk about wanting to help the downtrodden. Well, this tragedy in Tuscon would have presented a perfect opportunity to discuss mental illness. The other night on The O’Reilly Factor, Charles Krauthammer discussed how, since the deinstitutionalization of mental hospitals that took place in the 1960’s, many mentally ill people have been left homeless and freezing to death on the streets. John Hawkins also made similar points in an excellent column. It seems that if liberals really cared so much for the poor and the downtrodden, then they would have first mourned the victims of the shooting, and then tried to find some good in this tragedy by using it as an opportunity to provoke a national debate with regard to mental illness (i.e., how to get people the help that they need without violating anyone’s civil liberties). Instead, they used it as an opportunity to bash Sarah Palin and act like the thought police by suggesting that we should “bring back the fairness doctrine”. These actions demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the primary focus of modern liberalism is not helping the “little guy”, but bashing Sarah Palin and controlling how people live their lives.

3.) This whole Tuscon Tragedy was the big, red “Do Not Push” button for liberals.

What do I mean by the above statement? Simple. Somehow or another, liberals were able to drag Sarah Palin and the Tea Party into this story (even though they had absolutely NOTHING to do with it). Furthermore, they were able to use this tragedy to discuss gun control, as well as speech control (two ideas that are dear to their hearts). Palin, gun control and controlling conservative speech is the liberal trifecta; therefore, with regard to this story, they just couldn’t control themselves.

David Brooks (of all people) explained this phenomenon perfectly when he wrote the following:

“All of this evidence, which is easily accessible on the Internet, points to the possibility that Loughner may be suffering from a mental illness like schizophrenia.

In short, the evidence before us suggests that Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it.

Yet the early coverage and commentary of the Tucson massacre suppressed this evidence. The coverage and commentary shifted to an entirely different explanation: Loughner unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin.

Mainstream news organizations linked the attack to an offensive target map issued by Sarah Palin’s political action committee. The Huffington Post erupted, with former Senator Gary Hart flatly stating that the killings were the result of angry political rhetoric. Keith Olbermann demanded a Palin repudiation and the founder of the Daily Kos wrote on Twitter: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin.” Others argued that the killing was fostered by a political climate of hate.

These accusations – that political actors contributed to the murder of 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl – are extremely grave. They were made despite the fact that there was, and is, no evidence that Loughner was part of these movements or a consumer of their literature. They were made despite the fact that the link between political rhetoric and actual violence is extremely murky. They were vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness.

Yet such is the state of things. We have a news media that is psychologically ill informed but politically inflamed, so it naturally leans toward political explanations. We have a news media with a strong distaste for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, and this seemed like a golden opportunity to tarnish them. We have a segmented news media, so there is nobody in most newsrooms to stand apart from the prevailing assumptions. We have a news media market in which the rewards go to anybody who can stroke the audience’s pleasure buttons.

I have no love for Sarah Palin, and I like to think I’m committed to civil discourse. But the political opportunism occasioned by this tragedy has ranged from the completely irrelevant to the shamelessly irresponsible.”

4.) Ever since Obama has come on the scene, liberals have gone overboard with their incivility and have gotten in the habit of substituting slurs, libel, personal attacks and name-calling for actual political debate.

We are all familiar with the vitriol directed at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Now, fast forward to the 2008 Democratic primary where the Clintons were accused of racism, and Chris Matthews called Hillary Clinton “witchy” (see the image below that was popular on many liberal blogs). Then, other Democrats tried to pressure Mrs. Clinton to get out of the race and accused her of wanting to have Obama assassinated (sound familiar?). And finally, Keith Olbermann got fed up and demanded that someone just kill her/beat her up. (To be specific, Olberman said that, “Someone should take her in a room and only he comes out”.)

Next, came the general election where John McCain and Sarah Palin basically faced the same sentiment from the liberal media that the Clintons faced. (That sentiment being, “How dare they actually try to beat Obama!”) To be specific, one liberal blogger captured the Left’s sentiment perfectly when he wrote that his “jaw dropped” when John McCain brought up Bill Ayers in the debate. In other words:

“How dare that mean, old fart try to actually win the debate?! Why doesn’t he just walk away and let Obama win the election already? Don’t he and his stupid supporters know that we liberals know what’s best for them and the rest of the country anyway?”

However, nothing quite prepared me to see members of the MSM calling patriotic Americans, who were private citizens exorcising their First Amendment rights, “teabaggers” (which is a vile sexual slur) night after night after night. I recoiled in horror, and thought that this was lowest that the liberal MSM could possibly sink–but I was wrong.

This past week, when liberals in the MSM accused Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and conservatives in general of being somehow complicit in a mass murder…..well, that was their bottom, which is why they are now experiencing such a strong “backlash” (to quote Peter Wehner).

The liberal MSM so badly botched the coverage of the Tuscon massacre, because–for so very long–they have been trying to throw water on that “witch” Sarah Palin, but she simply refuses to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz did.

Instead, Palin is more like Elphaba from the Broadway musical Wickedshe just keeps coming back stronger and stronger after each setback and attack, managing to fly above it all and help the Republicans win elections. (H/T to the Hillbuzz for the video.)

And now, here was finally their chance–nay, their golden opportunity–to have someone take Palin into a room and only he comes out. The liberal MSM finally thought that they could be rid of Sarah Palin once and for all. And, it was more important to them than anything else–even more important than mourning for the victims of this senseless tragedy.

So, in conclusion, if I had to get inside the mind of the average liberal journalist/elitist and translate their thoughts into liberalese, it would sound something like this:

“Why don’t these stupid racist, redneck teabaggers just sit down and shut up? Why do they even think that they have a right to participate in the political process anyway? Don’t they realize that we liberals know so much more than them? Besides, the Founding Fathers would have hated their guts. I mean, they are so crass and vulgar with their “target” maps and using phrases like, “Don’t retreat, just reload.” Sure, we use target maps, gun metaphors and incendiary rhetoric (like wishing someone would blow up Rush Limbaugh’s head with a CO2 pellet), but we are so much more educated, so it’s less offensive coming from us. And sure, we might have over-reacted with the whole “Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are accessories to murder” bit, but those teabaggers should just turn the other cheek when we attack them, because they listen to white trash like Sarah Palin and talk radio, so they kind of have it coming anyway.”

OK–well, maybe I might be a bit guilty of stereotyping liberals in that above paragraph. But hey, liberals have been stereotyping conservatives for the last two years with the whole “racist, redneck teabagger” bit. It stings a tad when someone does it back to you, huh?

So, if you lefties are really serious about the whole “new tone” thingy that you all have been whining about this entire week, might I suggest that you do two things. First off, you all really need to apologize to Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and conservatives in general for implying that we were all accessories to mass murder (as well as for all of the degrading insults that you’ve thrown our way for the last two years). I mean, that was really appalling behavior and was totally beyond the pale. To quote Charles Blow (who I never thought that I’d quote):

“Within hours of the shooting, there was a full-fledged witch hunt to link the shooter to the right.

“I saw Goody Proctor with the devil! Oh, I mean Jared Lee Loughner! Yes him. With the devil!”

Now we’ve settled into the by-any-means-necessary argument: anything that gets us to focus on the rhetoric and tamp it down is a good thing. But a wrong in the service of righteousness is no less wrong, no less corrosive, no less a menace to the very righteousness it’s meant to support.

You can’t claim the higher ground in a pit of quicksand.

Concocting connections to advance an argument actually weakens it. The argument for tonal moderation has been done a tremendous disservice by those who sought to score political points in the absence of proof. “

Second of all–and most importantly–you guys in the liberal MSM really owe the victims of the Tuscon shooting, their families and the American people an apology. Most Americans probably didn’t even learn the names of the victims until the president’s Wednesday night speech–four days after the shooting took place. Michelle Malkin has the victims’ names and ages on her blog, but I will list them here so that we may mourn them and pray for them–as well as for Congresswoman Giffords:

The deceased have been identified as: Judge John Roll ,63; Dorthy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Christina Greene, 9; Phyllis Scheck, 79; and Gabriel Zimmerman, 30.

Furthermore, until several days after the incident, most Americans probably had no idea about Jared Lee Loughner’s obvious signs of mental illness. So therefore, the American people were denied the debate that our country deserves with regard to how to recognize the signs of mental illness, as well as what to do about it (as Benjamin Kerstein explained in his poignant column).

In other words, the media’s need to “get the witch” was so strong, that it overpowered even their need to report the basic facts of the case. Everyone was talking about Sarah Palin’s “target” map, but no one even knew the victims’ names. (And to make matters worse, Sarah Palin is now getting death threats.) Seriously, shame on you guys in the press. If you all want your “new tone”, then you need to man up, suck it up and apologize first–otherwise, all of your pleas to “end the divisive rhetoric” will sound insincere. Like Mr. Blow said, you can’t claim the moral ground while standing in quick sand. Your “by any means necessary” approach has failed. If you call out for help and reach out an arm by offering a sincere apology, then we will help pull you up. Otherwise, you can all continue to sink in the muck together. The choice is yours.

This column is cross-posted from Parcbench, and it is also posted at The Minority Report, The Green Room and Hillbillypolitics.

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