New York Times Correction Over Op-Ed Assailing Right for Political Violence

Conservatives slam paper for reviving since-disproved theory linking rhetoric to 2011 shooting.

June 16, 2017 10:48 am

The New York Times Editorial Board issued a correction Friday after it incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords.

The opinion piece used the Wednesday shooting of GOP representatives on a baseball field in Virginia to explore the concept of lethal politics in America, arguing that it’s horrifying, but not surprising, that the current political climate could encourage an incensed and deranged person to resort to gun violence. 

Here is the since-corrected text from the article:

“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 that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

Conservative critics were quick to jump on the op-ed. The National Review pointed out that the Times’ own reporting on the shooting from six years before refuted the link between rhetoric and the Giffords shooting. Fox News analyst Howard Kurtz also slammed the Times for reviving this theory at a time when Republican majority whip Steve Scalise and four others are still recovering from this week’s terrifying attack.

“Palin’s use of the crosshairs may have been unfortunate, but to link it to the mass shooting was, and is, nonsensical,” Kurtz writes.

“To resurrect it now undercuts any effort at breaking the cycle of guilt by association. The editorial suggests that it’s fine to blame conservative rhetoric, but not liberal rhetoric, for senseless violence…As I wrote on the day of the Giffords shooting, well before I worked at Fox: ‘This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life.’”

Here is the Times’ correction:

“An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established. The editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. It depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs.”

This correction comes on the heels of former FBI Director James Comey refuting parts of the New York Times’ high-profile reporting about alleged contacts between Trump lieutenants and Russian government officials.

Read Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Vise’s column for RealClearLife on the importance of journalistic integrity, using anonymous sources, and getting the facts right the first time.

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