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Matthews Links Giffords' Shooting with 'Violent Level of the Right-Wing'

During a live 7pm ET edition of MSNBC's Hardball to cover the House vote on the debt ceiling increase, host Chris Matthews interrupted his August 1 panel's supportive reaction to the appearance of injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords by linking her shooting by an insane man last January with the Tea Party and 'violent level of the right-wing in this country.'

'She was shot by a violent act, of course, a person using a gun, breaking up a political meeting with a gun, bringing one to a political event which we saw a lot of during the Tea Party demonstrations, people carrying firearms to political events,' Matthews growled. 'The violent level of the right-wing in this country, not particularly this case, but generally, where people feel the need to show firearms at political events, I think that's a bad development in our history, to bring guns to political events.'

Longtime Newsweek political correspondent Howard Fineman, now with the Huffington Post, responded by ignoring Matthews' gratuitous smear of the Tea Party, but to affirm how Giffords' appearance offered a 'healing' punctuation mark at the end of a 'fractious' debate: 'If President Obama and John Boehner and the rest needed somebody or something to sanctify this vote, and give it its blessing as a sort of a healing act, if you will, after a long, fractious debate, no possible better way to do that than have her here and have her voting for it.'

In the wake of Giffords' shooting last January, the media quickly seized on political rhetoric — nearly always conservative speech — as a potential catalyst, even though the man arrested for the crime, Jared Loughner, was by all accounts a deranged man with no connection to organized politics.

Here's more of how Matthews seized upon Giffords' inspirational appearance in the House chamber on Monday night as an excuse to attack political conservatives:

Huffington Post's HOWARD FINEMAN: I was just going to say, the fact that she made it back here and came for this vote, I think, is sort of a message — not to be overly dramatic about it — but a message from outside the beltway, from the real world saying, 'You know, if I'm committed to coming back here and to trying to make sure that we avoid default and that we end this fractious debate.' I think that probably had some emotional effect on the floor of the House right now, the fact that she came back here for this, to vote 'Yes' to end the impasse, I think, really mattered.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's also important to remember why she was coming back. She was shot by a violent act, of course, a person using a gun, breaking up a political meeting with a gun, bringing one to a political event which we saw a lot of during the Tea Party demonstrations, people carrying firearms to political events. The violent level of the right-wing in this country, not particularly this case, but generally, where people feel the need to show firearms at political events, I think that's a bad development in our history, to bring guns to political events. You should come to argue, not to show your firearms. And to have now this horrible case of a woman who was shot down in her political act, meeting with her constituents shot, only not dead because of modern medicine and her character and her resilience, that is all part of this story this year, Howard, and I'm not going to forget it.

FINEMAN: Chris, if the leadership, if the Democratic and Republican leadership, if President Obama and John Boehner and the rest needed somebody or something to sanctify this vote, and give it its blessing as a sort of a healing act, if you will, after a long, fractious debate, no possible better way to do that than have her here and have her voting for it. And so I think it is a very — an important symbolic moment, even if the bill itself remains controversial, and even though many people think it won't do much for, or to, the economy or the debt, the fact that she was here to kind of give blessing to this establishment compromise is a big deal.

- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Rich Noyes on Twitter.