It didn’t take long for the blame game to begin after the massacre in Arizona that critically injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and claimed the lives of 6 people including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl plus 4 others. On the left there is outrage over the vitriolic rhetoric from tea party leaders like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann as well as conservative pundits Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Palin in particular is being blamed for her violent, gun-related metaphors aimed at Giffords and other Democrats during the midterm campaign and health care reform debate.
There is little doubt that Palin’s use of gun-sight crosshairs over Giffords’ congressional district or her use of the phrase “don’t retreat, instead reload” have violent overtones involving guns as a means to effect change in elections, or that they would provoke unhinged individuals to take action. Palin is not alone in her use of firearm references regarding elections. Her tea party confederate, Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), said during the health care debate that she wanted Minnesotans to be “armed and dangerous” when the government tried to enforce federal laws. Tea party candidate from Nevada, Sharron Angle claimed that if Congress couldn’t be changed at the ballot box, people would be inclined to use “2nd Amendment remedies” to change the nature and make-up of Congress.
Now that the violent rhetoric has produced results in taking out a Democrat who won election to Congress, and decent Americans are outraged over the senseless act of violence, the main stream media is silent in reporting the connection between the shooter and comments’ suggesting violence is an acceptable means of facilitating change in government. What the media is reporting are the offensive responses from Republican legislators that both sides need to dial back the violent rhetoric responsible for inciting the attack in Arizona. It is unthinkable to place blame on both sides for the violent rhetoric when it is certainly only those on the right who are responsible for suggesting violence is acceptable.
It is noteworthy that Republicans did not distance themselves from the vitriolic comments coming from the likes of Palin and Bachmann during the health care debate and midterm election season, but one would think after the massacre in Arizona that they would identify the source and extricate themselves to salvage any modicum of credibility they may still have. Apparently, that is asking too much of conservatives who use the fear of gun control to garner votes and support from frightened, disenfranchised citizens wary of Democrats and especially Barack Obama.
The media that is labeled liberal by conservatives as a matter of course is complicit in hushing up the connection between conservative pundits and violent rhetoric, and in fact is only reporting on Republican legislators’ comments that everyone needs to step back from the hate-speech responsible for inciting violence. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told a CNN reporter in response to a question regarding Palin’s ad and remarks using the gun-metaphors that may have been over the line that, “I think you’re responsible, by bringing this up, of doing the very thing you’re trying to condemn.” Alexander continued that, “I think the way to get away from it is for you not to be talking about it.”
Clearly, the GOP is on damage control and instead of placing the blame where it belongs, thinks the media should ignore the problem so their involvement and tacit approval of Palin’s comments does not reach the public’s attention. One senator speaking anonymously said that Giffords’ shooting should be “taken as a precautionary tale” by Republicans, and that with cable TV and talk radio trying to outdo each other, it may have went too far. However, Republicans and conservatives dominate the airwaves and are responsible for all the vitriolic commentary regardless of the network or hosts involved. One would be hard-pressed to imagine MSNBC hosts inciting viewers to violence.
The main stream media at this point is as much at fault as the provocateurs of vitriol on the right by their silence and cooperation with Republicans in deflecting blame to all sides of the political spectrum. It is nice and politically correct to say that “everyone needs to calm down and stop the violent rhetoric” if each side was responsible, but they are not. Every bit of malfeasance has been on the right whether it is using gun metaphors or disrupting town hall meetings during the health care debate; to pretend otherwise is insulting and despicable.
Of course Republicans are going to say that everyone needs to stop the hateful and violent rhetoric because they are ill-equipped to take responsibility for anything they or their supporters do. However, the media has a responsibility to report the news accurately regardless of consequences to a political party. Even though Americans are not intelligent enough to draw conclusions without some pundit telling them what to think, they at least should have the opportunity to hear the truth. The sin of omission by the media is as wrong as outright lying and just as dangerous.
Republicans telling all sides to ratchet back the violent rhetoric implies the left is as guilty as the right when they are aware that it is only their side who has talked about “taking out” Democrats in Congress. The main stream media is also aware that the vitriol originates primarily from conservatives, but their inclination is to protect Republicans at all costs. The losers are the American people who do not follow politics closely and possibly have no idea that Palin and her cohorts encourage violence to change the government. The media is once again doing a disservice and not fulfilling their duty of disseminating information so the public can make informed decisions.
Perhaps if they had done so, the violent rhetoric would have stopped 2 years ago and 6 innocent people would still be alive. Apparently it is more convenient to cover over bad behavior so there would be a tragedy they could report on later. Would they have kept quiet if a Muslim used violent rhetoric preceding a massacre and would they have blamed all sides? Not the main stream media who does the bidding of the Republican Party; and not Fox News either.