Nearly four years ago, the media establishment swiftly and baselessly linked the Tea Party to the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. But after this weekend’s murder of two New York City police officers, by a gunman who used the hashtag #ShootThePolice, there was no rush at ABC, CBS or NBC to condemn anti-police protesters who have employed the chant: “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg highlighted the outrageous double standard on Sunday’s MediaBuzz on the Fox News Channel:
JONAH GOLDBERG: “You know, we talk about the disconnectioning coverage or the biases between left and the right in the coverage. You know, I remember quite vividly the Tucson shooter being blamed entirely on Michele Bachmann and on Sarah Palin and on the right wingers.
Host HOWARD KURTZ: Yes, and that was wrong. And I said so at the time.
GOLDBERG: “I agree it was wrong and we shouldn’t be doing the same thing in this circumstance. At the same time, when you have Al Sharpton’s little rent-a-mobs going out there saying, ‘What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.’ That is a substantively different thing than anything you can ascribe to Sarah Palin’s Facebook map, and the way that stuff was covered was much, much different, and much less hostile, than the stuff we’ve seen on the right.”
Proving Goldberg’s point, on Sunday’s Good Morning America on ABC, while there was no mention anywhere in the show of the chants in favor of “dead cops,” fill-in co-host Ryan Smith worried about the effect on protesters who have been demonstrating against police tactics.
“Is there a concern that these killings could lead to a rise in tension against the protesters, despite movement leaders condemning the attacks?” Smith asked George Stephanopoulos.
Such delicacy was nowhere to be found in January 2011, when all three broadcast networks falsely associated the attack on Giffords with the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. A flashback recalling some of the more notorious quotes from that time:
■ “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 , 2011 blog posted less than two hours after news broke of Giffords’ shooting.
■ “Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in crosshairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery.”
— CBS’s Nancy Cordes on the January 8, 2011 Evening News. The map was of districts targeted as part of an electoral strategy to defeat supporters of ObamaCare.
■ “On Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of talk, in particular, about Sarah Palin. As you might recall, back in March of last year, when the health care vote was coming to the floor of the House and this was all heating up, Palin tweeted out a message on Twitter saying ‘common sense conservatives, don’t retreat - instead reload.’ And she referred folks to her Facebook page. On that Facebook page was a list of Democratic members she was putting in crosshairs, and Gabrielle Giffords was one of those in the crosshairs.”
— CNN’s Jessica Yellin during the 10pm ET hour of Newsroom, January 8, 2011.
■ “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, 2011.
■ “Sarah Palin has been coming under some criticism. While there is no evidence her Web site featuring a target on Giffords’ district had anything to do with this attack, some are asking if today’s political rhetoric is inspiring the lunatic fringe?”
— NBC’s Matt Lauer teasing an upcoming segment on Today, January 10, 2011.
■ “Not since Timothy McVeigh attacked the federal building in Oklahoma City has a crime sparked so much attention on anti-government rhetoric. That map Sarah Palin put up on Facebook last year, targeting Congresswoman Giffords’ seat, made Giffords nervous, even then.”
— Correspondent Lee Cowan on Today, January 10, 2011.
■ “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, 2011.