Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reckless Reporting In Arizona Shooting

In the wake of the Arizona assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which also left several others dead, some journalists are attempting to place blame for the shooting spree on conservatives like Sarah Palin and on conservative talk radio.

Jared Loughner appeared in court on Monday to face charges that he tried to assassinate the U.S. congresswoman and that he killed six others. It was the nation's first look at the 22-year-old loner who on Saturday was wrestled to the ground by several bystanders after the initial volley of gunfire.

Many in the mainstream media have been quick to equate Loughner's motives to "conservative rhetoric" -- and more specifically, to tea party favorite Sarah Palin and a "cross hairs" graphic created by the former Alaska governor's political action committee in 2010, which targeted Democrats for political defeat.

Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center (MRC), says any attempt to connect the shooting to Palin, to the tea party movement, or to conservatives in general is shameful.

"This has been a very bad first 48 hours of coverage. Very reckless, very evidence-challenged," he shares. "And there should really be a full round of media apologies to go along with the newscasts right now."

After the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009, President Barack Obama was quick to caution those who would associate the shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, with Islam. But Graham says there seems to be a double standard in regards to applying the same restraint with the Arizona shooting.

"And now, within minutes [of the story breaking] CNN put on some cartoonist to say that this shooting was inevitable because of 'conservative rage,'" offers Graham. "There is far too much recklessness in our so-called news media that doesn't wait for evidence."

ABC's Jake Tapper was one of the lone mainstream journalists who reported of Jared Loughner: "The shooter's motives remain unclear. One acquaintance from 2007 described him as liberal."

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