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While Fox News Sunday Panel Complains About Politicizing AZ/Giffords Shooting, Fox Nation Uses It To Attack Democrats And Progressives

Reported by Ellen - January 10, 2011 -

Everyone on the Fox News Sunday panel yesterday (1/9/11) seemed to have the same opinion: The Arizona massacre and shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was committed by a lunatic and any attempts to link the horrific act to inflammatory right-wing rhetoric was premature at best and probably dishonorable. The two supposed liberals, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams, took particular pains to distance themselves from any leftist who might possibly have rashly made such a partisan, unwarranted connection. Meanwhile, those “civil,” “tolerant” folks over at Fox Nation have been as hard at work as ever putting forth that same inflammatory rhetoric – and using the shootings as fodder against the left. However, other comments from Liasson and Williams suggested they were not quite as in synch with the Fox News meme as they first seemed.

As I previously posted, Brit Hume seemed to argue that mass killings are just an unfortunate part of democracy: “It’s a remarkable thing, really, when you see how exposed members of Congress and other officials are to the public, that there isn’t more of this sort of thing. This is a case where it happens every now and then in America – somebody goes on a shooting, murderous shooting rampage. That’s what appears to have happened here.” Hume also said, “It’s way too early to know what effect American discourse of any kind had on someone who appears from all accounts to be quite deranged.”

Liasson agreed. “I think it is too early to know whether there was any connection between political discourse and what happened. I mean, the guy sounds like he was really deranged… There is already, unfortunately, a lot of blame being slung around.”

However, Liasson suggested that she thought the nature of political discourse had grown unhealthy, at the least. She endorsed having a discussion about whether or not the rhetoric has gone too far “as a really good one to have.” She quickly said, “That doesn’t mean that it’s the cause of what happened in Arizona,” but she also made a not-so-thinly-veiled criticism of such Fox News flame-throwers as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. “I think it would be better for political discourse if people didn’t call each other ‘facists,’ and ‘socialists’ and ‘Nazis’ and ‘Hitler’ and if gun sites weren’t put on people’s districts. I mean, that would probably be better. Whether it would have prevented anything that happened yesterday is not clear.”

Juan Williams made a similar point - and took a similar walk back. “I think it’s important to say this as someone left of center… you can’t just blame this on some kind of right-wing rhetoric… Clearly, I think this kid was unstable.” Williams noted that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was associated with an “anti-immigrant,” “anti-Semitic” and “anti-government” group and added, “So, I think that there is the temptation to say, ‘Oh this is the result of right-wing attacks.’ But… let’s wait a second, and let’s make sure about any kind of connections… I would hope that people aren’t so base as to make this into a political debate at this moment.”

That said, Williams immediately continued, “I do have worries about Arizona. I think the sheriff down there said it yesterday when he said that there’s too much of this kind of anti-immigrant fervor going on in Arizona… Some people call it the new Birmingham (AL) because of the intolerance that’s demonstrated in much of the state. And I think that people in Arizona have to stop for a second and think about exactly why they are so angry, why this incident happened in Arizona.”

Hume sneered that he had “no doubt there’s gonna be a wave of attempts to blame this on the character of the national discourse, the political atmosphere in Arizona.”

But Williams, perhaps feeling he had already proved his Fox News “fairness” cred, noted the vitriol toward politicians, especially during the health care reform debate, and asked Hume, “Don’t you think that things have become a little bit more angry in our times? Wouldn’t that be fair to say?” But, like Liasson, Williams waffled. “And that’s, I think that there are some who, I agree with you, have this base instinct to try and make political hay out of this.”

Hume continued with his “no biggie” theme. “All of these things we’re beginning to hear now, pinning responsibility on right-wing radio show hosts and others were the same things that we heard back at the time of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. We’ve heard all of this before, we’ve been though this cycle before.”

“You don’t think things are a little bit higher in terms of the tenor at this moment?” Williams asked.

“On the lunatic fringe, they’re always high and they obviously were high in this case,” Hume said. I wonder if he’d be so cavalier if a member of his family had been hurt or killed.

Liasson chimed in again. “I do think it’s gonna make people think twice before they use certain metaphors in politics… Not because this kind of rhetoric caused it but I think it is gonna have a kind of cautionary and positive effect.”

No such cautionary or positive effect can be seen at Fox Nation where the editor(s) seems positively gleeful in the use of the tragedy to attack Democrats and liberals. Not to mention all those death wishes bound to be found in the comments. Our Priscilla noted one such effort earlier today. Following are a series of screen grabs from yesterday's Fox Nation, posted at the same time as Fox News was airing Fox News Sunday's panel's comments.

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