It’s been more than two weeks since what appears to have been a lone gunman critically wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six other people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl in Tucson, AZ. Yet despite the fact that there is very little, if any, evidence to prove that accused gunman Jared Loughner was influenced by any political pundits to commit his heinous act, the media continues to dwell on vitriolic statements by politicians and political commentators as though doing so will prevent future violent acts.
I have been involved in the media for the better part of 37 years as a reporter, managing editor and corporate communications professional, and I have never seen such little devotion to fact finding or commitment to logical reporting as I see now.
Consider the discussion in the media over the past two weeks. Pundits have been doing more finger pointing about what they consider inflammatory rhetoric on all sides of the political spectrum than they have in analyzing why this seemingly disturbed young man would want to commit such violence against people he appears to have not known well at all. Those in the media who are attempting to show little or no connection between inflammatory political rhetoric and the Tucson incident have all but declared the accused shooter of being a total nut case even though there has yet to be a court-ordered psychological test ordered for the defendant. While it may be hard for anyone to imagine a person committing such carnage without being somewhat deranged, that fact has not been established by anyone with the knowledge to make such a determination.
The way the media has been covering this story, you have to wonder if facts and logic mean anything? Where is the cause and effect between any vitriolic political language and violence against public officials? Are you paying attention, you folks in the political pundit world? It’s going to be very difficult for any you to prove the cause and effect you have been claiming for weeks since the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, who was thankfully not killed, and the last U.S. Congressman to be assassinated in office was California Democrat Leo Ryan, who was killed in Guyana in 1978 while he was investigating the mass suicides of a religious cult founded by the notorious Jim Jones.
Let’s consider radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who is the target of many of the pundits blaming incendiary political talk for the violence in Tucson. Limbaugh has had the top rated talk radio program in the nation for roughly two decades. If the claims of all the liberal pundits who do not like Limbaugh are true, why haven’t liberal politicians been dropping like flies over the past 20 years? And remember, Giffords is considered by many in the liberal punditry to be a “blue dog” Democrat, meaning a Democrat to tends to lean a little conservative. She was targeted more by liberal web sites and blogs for not being liberal enough.
Let’s be realistic. There is no real cause and effect connection between inflammatory rhetoric and violent acts against political figures, and, of course, the political pundits are always railing against only the vitriolic language they don’t find agreeable. Keith Olbermann, who recently left MSNBC cable news networks, regularly thrashed President George W. Bush during his administration, sometimes very viciously. However, I don’t ever recall many in the media warning about violence against Mr. Bush. Was there even a failed assassination attempt against the former president?
I wonder how long this media idiocy and its corresponding political correctness are going to continue. If it gets too far out of hand, it looks as though the Dayton Hudson Corporation in Minnesota will have to change the name of its “Target” department stores.