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Mainstream Media Has Stunning Response to Attack on Lee Zeldin

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Thursday night, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the Republican gubernatorial nominee for New York, was attacked during a campaign event by a man who had a sharp weapon pointed at him. According to Zeldin, the man said, "You're done." 

While the suspect, David G. Jakubonis, was detained by civilian attendees and apprehended by law enforcement, he was later released on his own recognizance, just as Zeldin predicted. This comes despite being charged with attempted assault in the second degree of a sitting congressman and a gubernatorial nominee, no less. Ironically enough, Zeldin was speaking about bail reform, as he has made it a major campaign platform issue to repeal cashless bail. 

Jakubonis was freed so quickly that the Twitter news event from last night indicating that the suspect was in custody could not catch up in time. 

Shamelessly, but not surprisingly, some in the mainstream media had questionable reporting about the incident.

That a report from The New York Times on Thursday night mentioning that the suspect had "a pointed weapon" was tweeted out raised some eyebrows. The report also referenced Soros-backed Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has taken a soft-on-crime approach: 

Just hours before the attempted attack, Mr. Zeldin’s campaign had released its first digital advertisement of the general election, a lengthy spot attacking Ms. Hochul for refusing to fire Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, after Mr. Bragg initially filed second-degree murder charges against a bodega clerk who fatally stabbed an attacker. Mr. Bragg dropped the charge on Tuesday, but he and his policies have been a frequent punching bag for the political right.

Such a reference to Bragg and how "he and his policies have been a frequent punching bag for the political right" was only a preview of how the outlet would cover Zeldin's response to Jakubonis being released a short while later. 

"G.O.P. Assails N.Y. Bail Laws After Suspect in Zeldin Attack Is Released" was the headline of a report on Friday. 

In addition to screenshots taken and posted to Twitter mocking the headline, many took to the replies or retweets to take issue with the report. 

The report itself is worse, as Nicholas Fandos and Jonah E. Bromwich go after Zeldin and Republicans rather than the suspect. Here's how they begin their piece: 

An attempted assault on Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate for governor of New York, inflamed a fierce debate over the state’s public safety laws on Friday, hours after a man accused of charging the candidate with a pointed weapon was released without bail.

Mr. Zeldin has long made public safety a centerpiece of his campaign against Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat. But he and his allies argued on Friday that the episode viscerally drove home the need to increase policing and tighten New York’s bail laws to make it easier for judges to hold people charged with certain crimes.

“Only in Kathy Hochul’s New York could a maniac violently attack a candidate for Governor and then be released without bail,” Nick Langworthy, the New York Republican Party chairman, wrote on Twitter. “This is what happens when you destroy the criminal justice system.”

They go on to argue that because we don't know much about the suspect, a veteran who told Zeldin he suffers from "mental health issues," Zeldin and Republicans were unfairly pouncing: 

There were still many unanswered questions on Friday, including about what might have motivated Mr. Jakubonis, an Army veteran and a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Voter registration records indicated that he was not affiliated with a political party, and Mr. Zeldin said that he was told Mr. Jakubonis was suffering from “mental health issues.”

But Republicans wasted little time in claiming that the attack — and Mr. Jakubonis’s release — demonstrated the failure of the bail law enacted by Democrats in recent years. And they sought to use it to press an advantage in New York congressional races, as well.

How many times have liberals rushed to judgment when it comes to the identity of a suspect? More than we can count, though we have the receipts at least, as Matt highlighted in March of last year about a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. 

The report mentions statements of condemnation from Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), whom Zeldin is facing in November. Some also took issue with how Hochul had sent out releases telling her supporters to RSVP to Zeldin's events. 

President Joe Biden released his own statement on Friday, though he made no mention of Jakubonis' release, and, as Katie highlighted when covering it, the president also did not call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue federal criminal charges against the suspect for the attack. 

The New York Times wasn't the only outlet to pounce on Zeldin. CBS' "Face the Nation" actually had to delete its tweets that insinuated the attack didn't happen, but rather it was something "Zeldin said." At the time of the tweets, several reports, eyewitness accounts, and video footage of the attack had already been out. 

The tweets are now gone, with no explanation. There's only a tweet with video footage that was tweeted out at 1:49 pm on Friday as an "update." Users were quick to call CBS out, complete with screenshots. 

A report from CBS News by Victoria Albert, highlighted by our friends at Twitchy, is still up on the site, though it's been updated. 

A version of the article from Friday morning read: 

Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, said Thursday that a man climbed on stage and attempted to stab him during a campaign event. Zeldin said he was not seriously injured in the attack, and the perpetrator was taken into custody. 

"I'm OK," Zeldin said in a statement. "Fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him." 

Zeldin, who will face off against incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in November, said he was speaking to supporters in Fairport, New York, when the man tried to attack him. Zeldin said he was able to finish his speech after law enforcement took the man into custody. He did not provide any information about the alleged attacker.  

Though the piece has been updated, it still contains instances of "Zeldin said," though the video evidence has been linked in the piece, albeit very delayed: 

Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, was attacked by a man wielding a sharp object during a campaign event Thursday, according to Zeldin and video of the event posted on social media. Zeldin said he was not seriously injured, and the perpetrator was taken into custody. 

"I'm OK," Zeldin said in a statement. "Fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him." 

Zeldin, who will face off against incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in November, said he was speaking to supporters in Fairport, New York, when the man tried to attack him. Zeldin said he was able to finish his speech after law enforcement took the man into custody. He did not provide any information about the alleged attacker.  

As Townhall columnist Larry O'Connor pointed out, this attack provides Zeldin with the best argument for winning based on the issue. 

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