The New York Times has crossed a moral line, writes James Taranto.
Jan. 11, 2011, James Taranto wrote: After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.
Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”
The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line.
Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal. . . .
Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.
That debunked story from 2014 was resurrected very briefly Wednesday morning not long after it was reported that Scalise, who serves now as the House majority whip, and others were shot in Alexandria, Va., as they practiced for the upcoming congressional baseball game.
News of the shooting dominated headlines and newsrooms all morning as members of Congress halted everything to comment and grieve on the matter.
Here’s how Politico’s John Bresnahan described one particular moment in Congress: “Members surrounding [House Speaker Paul Ryan] on the floor, including [Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La.], who helped Scalise out when he had problems over racial issues.”
Ah, no. The supposed issue to which Bresnahan referred is not what it sounds like. That is, he made it sound a lot worse than it really is.
For the unfamiliar, “racial issues” is an irresponsibly vague reference to a moment in 2014 when Scalise was accused of having once delivered an address as an “honored guest” to a conference of white supremacists.
The rumor originated with a blogger named Lamar White, whose main source was a comment thread at a neo-Nazi website, and it soon spread to major newsrooms, including The Washington Post and Politico. Read the rest of this entry »