We all know the details of the tragic event in Arizona by now so there's no need to repeat what we’ve no doubt heard and seen hundreds of times. We probably also all know that in the midst of the panic, news networks had started to report Rep. Giffords was killed before being updated with actual facts that while in critical condition, the Congresswoman was still very much alive. It is at this moment when news reporters should have taken a moment to wait until all the facts were in before running ahead of the story. Unfortunately, they did not.
Instead of digging their heels into some good, old fashioned journalistic research and finding out exactly who Jared Loughner is and why he may have gone berzerk, the left leaning media began pointing fingers at pro-gun, Republican politicians and pundits. Their first target was Sarah Palin who, they claimed, instigated such an attack and had blood on her hands as a result. Their reasoning? A map of elected officials up for re-election whom she had targeted for ousting. Next up was Glenn Beck who, they insisted, was responsible in part because he urges Americans to stand up for their constitutional rights. The same accusation was laid on Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh. The reality that these public figures never referenced protecting one’s ability to kill at will is ignored. Conservative news pundits would have done well to point this out and then continue reporting the facts surrounding the story of the shootings. Instead, they became contributors to the garbage their liberal peers had been spewing.
Its not surprising that political posturing on gun control and censorship would follow a tragedy like this. After the Columbine school shootings we saw the same thing. What is surprising is how quickly left wing media and political figures lost sight of the actual story and the facts surrounding it in a rush to blame anyone but the actual shooter, who had been in custody since moments after the shooting. Sadly, right wing media then switched its own focus from reporting the facts to a counter-attack mode, turning the nightly news scene into a 5 year old game of “I know you are, but what am I.”
Jared Loughner, pictured in his mug shot above, is the only person responsible for Saturday's violence. Loughner had focused on Rep. Giffords years prior to Sarah Palin's rise to prominence and he had a reputation around his hometown for being odd and possibly dangerous long before Palin created an election target map. According to voting records Loughner was registered as an independent, so painting him as an extremist Republican or Tea Party member is unsupported. It is also unknown as to whether this psychopath paid any attention to Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or any other mainstream conservative figure. Reports from Loughner's classmates tell a story of a man who was deeply disturbed. So disturbed, in fact, that he was asked by the school to stop attending classes, something the town's Sheriff Dupnik was aware of. Another tell-tale sign of Loughner's mental instability could be found at the young man's home, where he lived with his parents. In the backyard was a shrine of sorts, which consisted of a skull and shriveled oranges, inside of a tent. Before pointing blame at completely unrelated media figures with whom Loughner may or may not have been familiar, why not at least question why the parents of this clearly deranged person did not intervene in their son's life. Instead of blaming public figures and free speech, why didn't Sheriff Dupnik question his own staff about why multiple reports on this man's instability were not addressed?
The people wounded and murdered last Saturday morning in Arizona were not Democrats or Republicans. They were not liberals or conservatives. They are human beings…wives, husbands, children, parents. They are Americans. They weren’t – and shouldn’t have become – pawns in some twisted media game of political strategizing. Some would say this tragedy speaks to the state of our political landscape but i would have to disagree with them. After all, our political landscape was nothing out of the ordinary when Ronald Reagan was shot by a deranged Jodi Foster fan in 1981. What this tragedy really shows us is the downright abysmal state of American news media, both on the right and left.