Here we go again. I have a feeling the “climate of hate” is about to make a big comeback. CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, released a statement which doesn’t say that President Trump’s “attacks on the media” are responsible for the bomb delivered to CNN but which insinuates that may be the case.
Statement from CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker: pic.twitter.com/OXyIT6oSLT
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) October 24, 2018
Here’s the first problem with this: We have no idea who is responsible. I’m not suggesting some kind of false flag attack, but the person (or persons) responsible could be mentally disturbed. People who do crazy things are often crazy people. It’s not reasonable to hold the President responsible for the actions of a disturbed mind. But even if this person turns out to be a Trump rally-goer straight from central casting, Trump still isn’t responsible for the actions of a 3rd party. The president never told anyone to deliver bombs to anyone.
But the media tends to trot out a special argument for situations like this: The Climate of Hate. This is the process by which unidentified bad actors are assumed to be responding to vague signals they are receiving from Republicans.
The most infamous example of this is, of course, the Tucson shooting. Within hours, prominent progressives had proclaimed Sarah Palin responsible because of a map she had made showing Gabby Gifford’s district under a targeting site. But no connection to Palin was ever found because none ever existed. The shooter was a deranged man with a fixation on Gabby Giffords and no clear political bent. That didn’t matter to the media. Indeed, various lefty writers are still getting this wrong years later.
But it’s not the only example. In fact, CNN was among the media outlets who speculated Trump’s rhetoric might be responsible for the shooting at the Capital Gazette, hours before we knew anything about who was responsible.
They said this after the Capital Gazzette shooting. There was no Trump anti-media connection. Thought maybe they would have learned to wait. https://t.co/5hnMcwxOdt
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) October 24, 2018
Curiously, the “Climate of Hate” argument never shows up after a left-wing nut does something crazy. You won’t hear CNN blaming Black Lives Matter for the Dallas shooting or the Baton Rouge shooting or the NY shooting. The Climate of Hate only operates in one direction.
And here’s another good point. This bomb was apparently only delivered to CNN because the person who made thought John Brennan worked there. The letter wasn’t actually intended for CNN as an organization.
I feel for the folks at CNN, but considering the bomb was addressed specifically to John Brennan, it seems veeery premature to tie this to Trump's attacks on the media https://t.co/LvDtO9SCkR
— Alex Griswold, but Halloween-themed I guess (@HashtagGriswold) October 24, 2018
Bottom line: Jeff Zucker is assuming far too much with zero evidence. That’s not how the president of a news operation ought to operate. Let’s wait to see who did this and why rather than making knee-jerk assumptions about their motivation.