On this day in 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and seriously injured by a crazed gunman. As the anniversary that kicked off one of the most vicious media smear campaigns in recent media history, probably unrivaled until 2016 when Donald Trump became “literally Hitler,” it’s worth looking back and just how corrupt the media can be.
The day following the assassination attempt I wrote a post about the absolute insanity that erupted from the left/main stream media in the wake of that shooting. I went back to read it to see if, 6 years later, it still holds up. It does. Just a brief excerpt:
“With the Tucson shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the mainstream media and the leftie blogosphere wasted no time in drawing conclusions and blame for the shooting: The Tea Party, Sarah Palin (of course!) and the climate of heated political rhetoric. Of course, any examples used are borrowed strictly from the right. Although I heard comparisons to Timothy McVeigh, for a bombing that occurred in 1995, I’ve yet to hear mention of the Discovery channel gunman, who actually credited a left political agenda to his rampage; when that occurred only last September.
But… that’s the nature of our biased news environment. It’s so ubiquitous that most viewers wouldn’t even question that Tea Party inspired heated political rhetoric is at root of this shooting. Why should they? Every Sunday morning news show I watched today asked that same question. Any soul searching required will be requested of the right, not the left. Their overheated political rhetoric is just fine. Of course the new media and the internet make that more difficult to pull off. Now, there are multiple voices. People aren’t limited to what the big three networks think are the right questions, and what they think of as newsworthy.
And the Democrats have been fairly explicit on where they want to put the blame for this shooting:
One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.””
Of course the whole thing got started off by Paul Krugman’s infamous post at The New York Times:
“A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.
We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.
Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.”
At the time that post and all the subsequent reaction seemed unprecedented, but now of course, particularly after the past election season and current soft coup attempts by the media, it seems business as usual. We have a new phrase to describe the Jared Loughner-Sarah Palin connection: Fake News.
It was an issue of great personal eye opening disappointment for me as well. As a long time science fiction fan, I grew up reading the likes of Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle. They were generally right leaning libertarian types, with a lot of rugged individualism thrown into their stories, although their stories were nonpolitical. I read of course left leaning science fiction writers as well, such as Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, and Fredrick Pohl. These guys told great stories and didn’t let their personal politics get in the way of that. So I just didn’t expect the world of science fiction to so reflect the utter debasing of our political discourse. I expected it to be above that.
Well it turns out it isn’t. Or it least these days it isn’t. I used to be a regular reader of SF author John Scalzi’s website Whatever. At the time, I thought it would be fun to be on a site with other science fiction fans, but the Giffords shooting quickly disabused me of that. The comments from Scalzi on the shooting can best be described as Krugman lite. In other words: despicable. I can understand Krugman being Krugman, but I honestly and naively expected Science Fiction writers to be better than that.
Now days Scalzi gets a lot of mockery from the Alt Right on their sites. It’s richly deserved. And Scalzi, Krugman, and the media in general have only gotten worse. So far, there is no bottom.