We noted yesterday the fingerwagging at CNN over the Fort Hood shootings and the urge to link it to radical Islam, and the rush at the network to blame another mass murder on Republicans like Sarah Palin and Tea Party activists, even though the shooter had no known link to either. Many of our commenters rightly stated that CNN was hardly alone in this utter hypocrisy, and Philip Klein at the American Spectator provides another air-tight case. He compares editorials from the New York Times then and now to expose the Gray Lady as a shrieking hysteric and a sickening example of media sources that act more like attack dogs than journalists:
In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.
President Obama was right when he told Americans, “we don’t know all the answers yet” and cautioned everyone against “jumping to conclusions.”
Unverified reports, some from his family members, suggest that Major Hasan complained of harassment by fellow soldiers for being a Muslim, that he hoped to get out of a deployment to Afghanistan, that he sought a discharge from the Army and that he opposed the American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were reports that some soldiers said they had heard him shout “God is Great” in Arabic before he started firing. But until investigations are complete, no one can begin to imagine what could possibly have motivated this latest appalling rampage.
There may never be an explanation. And, certainly, there can never be a justification.
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal.
Its gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.
The difference between the two shootings was that subsequent evidence showed that Nidal Hasan communicated with a known al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, and shouted “Allah akbar!” during his murder spree. His radicalization had become known to his chain of command, which worried about overreacting rather than addressing the threat. Everyone bent over backwards to avoid dealing with Hasan, including those who knew of his secret communications with Awlaki.
In contrast, no one has posited even a remote connection between Loughner and the GOP or the Tea Party. The Times also conveniently ignores the fact that both sides use the same imagery and indulge in the same demonization, including the Times itself in this editorial by imputing blame for a mass murder on people with legitimate political grievances who address them within the political system. That’s not just hypocritical, it’s exceptionally despicable.
Advising people not to jump to conclusions in the immediate aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings was good advice. Too bad the New York Times wanted to smear its political opponents so badly with this shooting in Arizona that they couldn’t accept their own counsel. Like CNN, the Times holds itself out as a supposedly non-partisan source of news and information, and like CNN, their hypocrisy reveals the truth now in a particularly ugly manner.