Imagine the Saturday morning of congressional aide Mark Kimble. Kimble told of going to a Safeway for a typical meet-and-greet event with his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Kimble said he went into the store for coffee, and as he came out, Giffords was talking to a couple about Medicare and reimbursements, and federal judge John Roll had just walked up to her and shouted "Hi" -- when a gunman opened fire.
Nobody in America should greet this scene with any other initial reaction than horror. Six people were killed, including Roll, several retirees and a 9-year-old girl. More than a dozen others were seriously injured in the carnage. Giffords was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. Sadly, shamefully, within just minutes, a nasty political spin was kicking in without any brake for decency or evidence. Conservatives were to blame.
CNN broke in with this horrible news at about 1:30 Eastern time, and within an hour, CNN put on the local political cartoonist, David Fitzsimmons, who announced that the shooting was "inevitable" considering "The Right in Arizona, and I'm speaking very broadly, has been stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage successfully in this state." The state also had a conservative "fetish" for guns that added to the inevitability, he claimed.
Fitzsimmons later apologized, something a whole of lot people should consider doing if they have a shred of decency. I have never witnessed such an (SET ITAL) immediate (END ITAL) rush to tar a majority movement in my life -- without an ounce of evidence.
The star of the media's Smearing Olympics was Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat who rushed to the readily available media microphones to proclaim the shooting was the natural outgrowth of hot "anti-government" talkers, that "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business and some people in the TV business" was to blame.
At first, Dupnik didn't name names, but you knew whom he meant. He later said he wanted to say Rush Limbaugh first, and Glenn Beck as well. That began a deluge of "news" coverage blaming conservative radio hosts, Fox News and politicians like Sarah Palin for their alleged encouragement of nutty lone gunmen to kill federal judges and congressmen.
Even as they acknowledged the shooter's motive was a mystery, liberal reporters were filling their buckets with mud. Typical was CBS reporter Nancy Cordes, who scolded that "Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in crosshairs on a Sarah Palin campaign website last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery."