On Thursday, the editorial board of The New York Times joined other news outlets great and small to share its take on the GOP baseball shooting that captured the nation’s attention. And since the past is prologue, the Times saw fit to discuss the shooting in Alexandria in the larger context of previous mass shootings, including the 2011 shooting of in Tuscon that killed six and seriously wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords, effectively ending her career.
In an of itself, it is not unreasonable to mention the shootings in Arizona. Other outlets did the same, including the one you are currently reading. One important difference was that the Times editorial renewed baseless allegations against Sarah Palin as having incited the massacre.
Since then, the Times has published a “correction,” which reads:
An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords.
The editorial initially stated there was a “clear link” between Palin’s rhetoric and Giffords’s shooting, as a means of justifying the board’s decision not to place the same kind of blame on Democrats for the baseball shooting.
The board wrote:
In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. [Emphasis added]
The notion that symbols used on Palin’s political map were crosshairs has been thoroughly debunked numerous times. In fact, the symbol used was a printer’s registration mark, used to align the various printing plates in four-color printing. It’s hard to conceive that The New York Times would have no awareness of this symbol.
Later, the Times added:
Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.
As The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson pointed out: “There is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Loughner, a schizophrenic, was at all inspired by Palin’s electoral map.”
Journalists of varied political persuasions ruthlessly slammed the editorial Thursday, in turn referring to the Giffords claim in particular as a “despicable lie,” “nuts,” “stupid,” “completely wrong” and “the worst editorial they have run in a decade.”
In addition to issuing the correction, the Times made several edits to the piece correcting the record, most notably adding a line after the Giffords claim that states “no connection to the shooting was ever established.” The board also replaced the line saying a “link” is clear with this admission: “At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right.”
Here’s how those two paragraphs read now, with changes in bold:
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.
Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Liberals should of course be held to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.
The heavy edits were made less than 12 hours after the editorial went live.
This report, by Juliegrace Brufke, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.