The New York Times published an editorial Wednesday evening about the attack on Republicans earlier that day in which it claimed falsely that Sarah Palin incited the 2011 Tucson shooting, and that the killer had political motives.
The Times‘ editorial, “America’s Lethal Politics,” will appear in the print edition of Thursday’s newspaper. It argues that political violence will continue unless President Donald Trump and the Republicans stop opposing gun control.
Along the way, the Times claims [original link]:
However, there was no evidence of political “incitement.” First of all, the Tucson killer, Jared Loughner, was mentally disturbed and had no political motivations. As even the left-wing HuffPost reiterated Wednesday: “People said Jared Lee Loughner was motivated by politics. Reporting proved them wrong.” Second, Sarah Palin’s map was virtually identical to those used by Democrats for years, depicting targets atop contested congressional districts.
The Times goes on to argue that “there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack” in Wednesday’s shooting.
That statement is so completely false that it calls to mind George Orwell’s observation about journalism during the Spanish Civil War: “I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie.”
That is not conclusive evidence of incitement — at least, not yet — but it is more persuasive than in any other recent case.
The Times‘ false equivalence between the two shootings provides a sick excuse for what Hodgkinson did by making it appear to be partially Republicans’ fault. That is worse than “fake news.” It is an effort to exploit a horrific act of violence for the purpose of stoking political divisions, reinforcing the hysteria in which Hodgkinson was steeped.