After Blaming the Right for Arizona Shooting, Some in Media Won't Let Go, Analyst Says

Some in the media are still ignoring facts surrounding Arizona gunman Jared Loughner, even a week later, just to make a political point, a media analyst tells

On Sunday, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank defended an earlier column of his in which he wrote that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck should still be held accountable for inspiring gunman Loughner and others to violence.

Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Milbank said: "Both are finally being held to account for recklessly playing with violent images in a way that is bound to incite the unstable.”

But that stance simply ignores the truth, said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center.

“Facts are secondary,” he said. “I think that liberals are invested in story line of Oklahoma City -- incivility leading to Oklahoma City -- (and) they’re going to try to do it again with Obama."

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Milbank's remarks on CNN stem from his Washington Post column from Jan. 11, in which he wrote: "While the accusations sometimes go too far -- there's no evidence that either Palin or Beck inspired the Tucson suspect -- the heat is well deserved. Both are finally being held to account for recklessly playing with violent images in a way that is bound to incite the unstable."

Citing no evidence on the CNN program, Milbank said Palin and Beck deserve to be in the hot seat.

“It probably wasn’t a driver in this case—we don’t know for sure—but it’s a driver in so many other cases,” Milbank said.

When asked by CNN host Howard Kurtz whether it was fair to hold a talk show host responsible for what some violent or perhaps unbalanced person does because they like a media personality, Milbank replied: “Yes, Howie, in the aggregate ... [they] need to worry about that fraction of 1 percent who just might be driven over the edge.”

Milbank hasn’t been the only one to gloss over Loughner's apparent mental illness and point the finger instead at conservative media figures and Republican politicians.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, an economist, seemed to set the tone when he wrote, just hours after the shooting, that Loughner was fueled by “the national climate” fed by “the purveyors of hate” on the Right.

Then in Krugman's Thursday column, although he didn't mention the Arizona shooting or Loughner directly, he stepped up his ongoing attack on Republican policies, while warning against "any language hinting at the acceptability of violence" in the public discourse.

Other media organization soon after the incident speculated that tension over Arizona’s controversial immigration law was to blame in the shooting.

But more than a week later, some in the media continue to suggest conservative talk radio and TV are somehow responsible for the shooting -- or other violence like it.

Graham said he saw Milbank as representative of the "mainstream media.”

"I think there are a lot of people in the liberal media who absolutely refuse to let go of the notion that conservative rhetoric kills. So they will say ‘maybe not in this case, but it will,'" he said.

In fact, the New York Times' Public Editor Arthur Brisbane acknowledged that the paper's coverage of the Tucson's shooting may have been too political.

Brisbane questioned the paper's emphasis on politics, writing: "The intense focus on political conflict detracted from what has emerged."

Liberal talk show host Alan Colmes, speaking with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Monday, said that many in the media struggle to make sense of breaking news stories like the one in Tucson.

He added that the New York Times or any other media organization that did or continues blame political rhetoric for the Tucson shooting should be worried about losing its credibility with their readers.

“Sometimes we reach for the too easy answer. Blaming talk radio or political news is too easy an answer," he said.