UPDATE: The Times has added an online correction on this coruscating inaccuracy, reducing the likelihood that they'll get sued over their libelous bilge. I obviously approve of the decision to alter this grossly inaccurate content, but the fact that their essay was approved as fit to print in the first place last evening is quite revealing. A central piece of their argument was rooted in fantastical left-wing folk lore, repeated so frequently by people who populate institutions like the New York Times editorial board that it morphed into a "fact." The new version of the editorial still mentions Palin's map, which is totally unconnected to anything of relevance on this subject. A bizarre non-sequitur. Their utterly wrong, unsupported implication remains intact. How about deleting the entire piece? Also, having made a change to their virtual copy under intense criticism today, will the Times showcase an apology and retraction in tomorrow's print edition?
If you read my commentary yesterday about the horrific shooting spree by an unhinged leftist at the GOP baseball team's morning practice in Northern Virginia, you'll recall that I opened with a reflection on the Gabrielle Giffords attack of 2011. I recalled that many on the Left -- especially at the New York Times -- seized on that terrible incident as a means to indict conservative rhetoric as the culprit. This was not only grossly unfair, it was exposed in short order as simply wrong, too: The gunman in Tucson was a schizophrenic young man who was obsessed with Giffords, was mostly apolitical (if one wanted to be as uncharitable as a New York Times editorial board member, one could make a case that he was a man of the left), and didn't keep up with the news. He certainly wasn't familiar with Sarah Palin's "targets" map, featuring standard political imagery, which was fheld up by dishonest people as a determinative call to violence. The Palin connection was, despite all the unfair and baseless sound and fury surrounding it, an irrelevancy. It had absolutely nothing to do with the massacre. Jared Loughner's fixation with Giffords long predated the crosshairs map, which Loughner never saw. These statements of objective reality reflect settled science -- except, it would seem, at the New York Times. In their house editorial reacting to Wednesday's attempted mass assassination of GOP lawmakers, the Times' editors dredged up this discredited conspiracy theory and presented it to readers as fact. A pile of steaming garbage:
The New York Times is well aware that any link between Palin and the Giffords shooting were long debunked, but they're going for it anyway. pic.twitter.com/BgzaQFQMz6
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) June 15, 2017
"The link to political incitement was clear," they write. False. Totally false. The link wasn't clear in the immediate aftermath of the attack, even as many suspected (or even perversely hoped) that such evidence would emerge. It never did. It was neither a politically-motivated nor politically-inspired assault. But the Times editors go on: "There's no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack," they write of James Hodgkinson's Alexandria rampage. This is an insane, divorced-from-reality assertion. There were zero 'signs of incitement' in the Giffords attack, let alone any "direct" one. Her would-be assassin wasn't political. By contrast, the man who shot the House Republican Whip and four others was a hardcore partisan activist.
A long paper trail of social media posts and letters to the editor portray a man harboring a seething contempt for the Republican Party and President Trump. He was heavily involved in progressive politics, volunteering for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign last year. He was a devotee of liberal television programs like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show. He existed in an ideological ecosystem that is vehemently, and too often hysterically, anti-conservative. It grated on him each and every day, and at some point, he made the decision to open fire on a group of GOP lawmakers. Early reports suggest that it was a premeditated, calculated attack -- and his large stockpile of ammunition indicates that he was prepared to exterminate as many 'enemies' as he possibly could.
The Times editorial board looks at these two fact patterns and somehow concludes that there was "clear" and "direct" evidence of political "incitement" vis-a-vis Palin and Giffords, whereas Mr. Hodgkinson's motives are more of a puzzling riddle. This is disgusting, lying hackery. It is other-worldly, Alex Jones-style lunacy and deceit. Progressive MSNBC host Chris Hayes, to his credit, called out the paper last night:
Let me chime here to say: yeah, that's nuts.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 15, 2017
Yes it is. And it's this sort of anti-truth, evidence-free fake news that causes so many people to instantly dismiss anything the New York Times prints. Today's editorial is a shameful stain on the paper's reputation, and a potent, acid-tipped arrow in the quiver of its critics. Who knows what fresh nonsense they'll dream up next to "prove" tendentious, baseless points?
Six years from now, the NYT editorial board will lecture us about that time a right-winger shot Democrats on a baseball field.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 15, 2017
By the way, if the New York Times wanted to point to a previous example of an explicitly politically-motivated shooting in order to establish an accelerating pattern of political violence and "incitement," they easily could have highlighted the thwarted 2012 mass murder plot by a gay rights activist who used a liberal organization's "hate map" to select and target the conservative Family Research Council. This week's assailant appears to have been a Facebook fan of that very same liberal organization, so the 'common denominator' angle would be fairly obvious. Yet the Times went the Palin route, for some mysterious reason. Any guesses?