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Special Report

Media Reaction to Tucson Rampage

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF: There’s no doubt in my mind that when a number of people night and day try to inflame the public that there is going to be some consequences from doing that.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST OF "AMERICA LIVE": It sounds like you're being honest, but that's your speculation. And it’s not anything fact-based at this point.

DUPNIK: That is my opinion, period.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: The vitriol has gotten so elevated until people feel emboldened by this. And people who are a little less than stable, and people who aren't thinking for themselves, or are so easily influenced, they go out and do things that all of us pay a great price for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: There was a lot of commentary, analysis, and speculation about Saturday's shooting in Tucson dealing with Jared Lee Loughner, the man authorities say went on this shooting spree. They also say that there’s really no evidence that he was a political ideologue. In fact he was registered independent.

They do say he was very mentally unstable. This is the mug-shot that came out just this afternoon.  This is what Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, said on Saturday, quote, "We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was."  What about all of this? Let's bring in our panel, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor digital, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Chris, let's start with you, kind of an overview of what developed and happened over the weekend.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR DIGITAL: What an appallingly random thing to have happen and how it sort of ripped the veil from our eyes in terms of the danger that people in public life face, and how this is one deranged individual, if, in fact, he is the guilty party here can change everything.

I know in our house it was the nine-year-old little girl that really moved us and the thought of this child who had wanted to meet a real-life politician because she had been elected to her class presidency.  This is a moment that changes the way people think about things, think about politics and think about crime. It's big.

BAIER: Mara, we talked about it on "Fox News Sunday," the jump by a lot of people to automatically go to politics. Now there is a shift a bit. Many are saying we don't have any evidence this is tied to politics but then continue the political discourse discussion.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: There is nothing wrong with having a conversation about the political discourse, but I think it should be separated from this. Maybe we should wait a while. Then I think having a conversation about political discourse is good to have. It's probably a good idea if the political discourse was a little bit less hyped up.

BAIER: Lawmakers on both sides agree with that.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, and less violent imagery and marshal imagery and gun imagery. But it would be nice to have it separate. I think the challenge for President Obama who has to speak of this at length, at least at the memorial service if not owe venues is see if he rise above that and be the grown-up in this, where he expresses people's feelings, not a partisan argument on one side or another. I do thing that is the challenge for him, and so far it looks like he understands that challenge.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the way that some have manipulated and exploited this, particularly those on the left is truly scurrilous. We heard the Sheriff Dupnik imply that what happened was a consequence of hate speech. We just heard Clyburn, the representative, imply that somehow the shooter was influenced by, again, speech he doesn't like.

There is not a shred of evidence that the shooter, the gunman was influenced in any way by Sarah Palin, by the Tea Party, by opposition to healthcare. Healthcare was apparently not high on his agenda. In fact, the overwhelming evidence is that this is a man who even if there were a climate of hate, which is a scurrilous accusation, was impervious to it because he lived in his own climate.

You hear the man who lived across the street from him described him as somebody mentally ill, one of those people who are not there, who lived in a world of his own. And the professor of his philosophy class said his thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world.

Here’s a man in the video speaks about the government brainwashing us, controlling our minds through grammar. That's not a political statement. That's a psychotic statement.

Everything about this guy points to a severe thought disorder.  And I mean that in the strict psychiatric meaning of that, not just illogical, but disconnected, incoherent. It points to schizophrenia in this man. And to speak about him being influenced by others in these circumstance, I think is incredibly irresponsible and disgraceful.

BAIER: Chris, one other issue, James Rosen brought it up in his piece. Back in the Fort Hood shooting in November, Major Nidal Hasan, the suspected shooter in that went in, according to authorities, killed 13 people, was yelling "Allah Akbar." Then in the next we day found out he was tied to Islamic groups and was getting the Internet websites, that he denounced the U.S. forces. He also advocated for suicide bombing.

Yet the coverage of all of that urged caution, that we should be very, very cautious. That didn't seem to be happening this weekend.

STIREWALT: No. There was almost in some media reporting a yearning or wishful quality that this would be so, that in some way, their view, Krugman has expressed this before, the view that somehow this was a dangerous thing to talk about how you didn't like the government and that it was a dangerous thing to be opposed to the Democratic agenda, that somehow this was a hateful bad act. There was a yearning quality to this.

And what I’d say is we're in a very dangerous point when it comes to free expression and free speech if what we're saying is anything that is deemed to have kicked off a madman's rage is off-limits. That’s a very dangerous moment when you are talking about free speech because in this guy's case, what would it be? A grammar book? I don't think that's where we want to be.

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