The title of the piece, printed above a photo of Loughner’s home and the now famous crazy-eyes mugshot: “The Missed Warning Signs.”
Two years before the Tucson massacre, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report that right-wing extremism was on the rise and could prompt “lone wolves” to launch attacks. But the agency backed away from the report amid intense criticism from Republicans, including future House Speaker John Boehner.
The report, which warned that the crippled economy and the election of the first black president were “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment,” described the rise of “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology [as] the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,” according to a copy reviewed by The Center for Public Integrity.
In the wake of last weekend’s attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six dead and 14 wounded, the report’s warning of a lone wolf attack from someone with extremist tendencies seems prescient.
That’s the opening passage to a story that runs for 20, count ’em 20, paragraphs. The first inkling you get that Jared Loughner might not, in fact, be a “right-wing extremist” comes … in paragraph 19:
While discussion has swirled around possible ties between accused gunman Jared Loughner and right-wing extremists, DHS on Monday said department officials “have not established any such possible link.” [criminal justice professor Brian] Levin doesn’t believe extremism was the sole driving factor. “This guy is a mentally deranged person first,” he said, and noted that the mentally ill often latch on to conspiracy theories to layer over their already “obsessive and aggressive template.”
Was ideological extremism even a minor driving factor? As far as I know, there’s still no reason to believe so, which means the entire premise of the piece ends up being detonated before it’s over. But then, they’re not expecting you to read to the end; the important information in a news article is always placed up front, so if you happen to be a Newsweek reader — and if you are, you really should ask yourself why — who’s not following the coverage of the shootings closely, you’re sure to come away with the wrong impression of Loughner if you quit reading halfway through. Although if you do make it to the end, there’s a special surprise waiting for you: This story was written not by a Newsweek staffer but by a reporter from the “nonpartisan” Center for Public Integrity, which has been criticized for years for taking money from, among others, Soros’s Open Society Institute. I mention that fact reluctantly, only because at this point the Soros angle is a red herring. After all, there’s nothing in this piece that isn’t perfectly in keeping with the disinformation about Loughner being spread by various other media outlets over the past few days. They’re reporting from an alternate dimension in which this guy had some sort of blood shrine to Sarah Palin in his house, with black candles arrayed around a framed copy of her crosshairs map. Our dimension just happens to be intersecting with theirs right now to create the most inane “debate” in modern media history. But see, they’re the ones who are “reality-based.”
Here’s a valuable, succinct new clip from Reason TV listing five lessons about mass killings that it might be time to learn. Needless to say, it’ll be totally lost on the people who would most benefit from it.