Crazy Haters and the Twisted Press

This Saturday eleven people were killed by a shooter in a Pittsburgh synagogue during morning services. The shooter appears to someone who not only hates Jews, but hates President Trump as well

Julia Ioffe, a GQ correspondent, finds a way to blame Trump for this mayhem: 

Julia Ioffe‏Verified account @juliaioffe

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And a word to my fellow American Jews: This president makes this possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live was worth it.

9:22 AM - 27 Oct 2018


It will be interesting to see how the rest of the mainstream media handles the background of the man responsible and contrasts it with this week’s perfervid reportage of the man who mailed dud nonfunctioning “bombs” to prominent Democrats and some media.

Without a serious look at the background of the dud bomber, much of the press leaped to blame the president. TheOtherMcCain dug deeper into it.

While described as a “Seminole Indian” and a fervent Trump supporter, the suspect, Cesar Sayoc is the son of a Puerto Rican immigrant with a long arrest record for making bomb threats, petty theft, grand theft, battery, drug possession, and domestic violence. Some of these offenses would appear to be felonies and yet until 2016, after years of being registered as a Democrat, he changed his registration to Republican -- something peculiar in a state that bars felons from voting. He had worked as a male stripper and likely was misusing steroids as he had been charged in 2004 with “felony possession of testosterone-based steroids” in a case which was dismissed.

So over the top was the press coverage of these fizzled devices that it inspired Twitter users to create their own versions of the dud bombs, some of the best of which Power Line blog reproduced in its regular week in pictures feature.    

At the same site, Paul Mirengoff departs from the press train emphasis on the political leanings of those who commit such crimes to endorse Daniel Horowitz’s contention that the real story is “the failure to put criminals behind bars and keep them there.”              

This is a recurring but almost always ignored phenomenon. In one high-profile case after another, we learn that the criminal is a chronic offender with a rap sheet that, in a properly functioning society, would have mandated his incarceration at the time of his latest offense. 

Yet, Democrats, and too many Republicans, including some in the White House, are dead set on increasing the number of convicted felons, including dealers of drugs like fentanyl, on the streets. They want shorter sentences for such offenders and they want them released from jail early -- an obvious recipe for more crime faster

In short, the bipartisan leniency-for-felons crowd seeks to make our under-incarceration problem worse, even though doing so can only increase the occurrence of crime, including violent crime. The consequences of this perverse policy are there for all to see, but the leniency crowd averts its eyes.

There are approximately 327 million Americans. About 4.2% of them have serious mental illnesses. And while studies show that such persons are not more likely than others to become violent, once that person has, like Sayoc, demonstrated a pattern of violent behavior it is unconscionable not to remove him from the general population. I cannot help noticing, besides the general media avoidance of this issue (probably because they largely support this version of domestic “catch and release”), the shockingly disparate treatment in the coverage of this series of events with the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise by a man who hoped to take out the Republican House leadership. The header that day in the Washington Post was “Lawmaker Steve Scalise is Critically Injured in GOP Baseball Shooting; James T. Hodgkinson is killed by police”. (Contrast that with this header from the same paper: “Trump’s words have nothing to do with the mail bombs? Spare us.”) It’s true that if you read down seven graphs in the front page Scalise article, you would have learned that Hodgkinson was opposed to Trump, or if you had a local version of the paper, you could see in the “Public Safety" section an article reporting that Hodgkinson was a fervent Bernie Sanders supporter. But you could easily miss the connection. 

The New York Times went one better on the Post, blaming Palin’s campaign mailer for the Scalise shooting.

The sniper, James Hodgkinson, who was killed by Capitol Police officers, was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics. Mr. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer virulently opposed to President Trump. He posted many anti-Trump messages on social media, including one in March that said, “Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

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. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.

Two days later it published this correction online:

Correction: June 16, 2017

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. 

Did hard copy readers see this? Did the newspaper make any effort to disabuse readers it misled with long-discredited claims in the same way it repeated the lie in the hard copy?

I see a pattern here. Don’t you? Bury the background of the shooter if he’s on the left. When you can no longer bury it, blame it on mental illness and lack of sufficient gun control. When the shooter appears to be from the right, double down on even the provably false contentions made in past shootings that it was the intemperate rhetoric of the right to blame.

It seems to me that partisan scoring of points on twisted evidence is not good journalism. Nor does it seem to me that there’s much purchase to be had in blaming the right for violent rhetoric, when the most violent seems to be coming from the left. Numerous examples exist

They echo Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters's call for violence against their opponents.

And while she didn’t call for violence in the streets as did Waters, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Hillary’s  own running mate Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric can only be called inflammatory: “Hillary Clinton said on CNN, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Former president Obama’s intemperate remark bears repeating in this context of fiery political speech. 

Mobster wisdom tells us never to bring a knife to a gun fight. But what does political wisdom say about bringing a gun to a knife fight?

That’s exactly what Barack Obama said he would do to counter Republican attacks “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

Truly this meme about toning down political speech is one the press likes as a means of silencing the critics of its own partisan, slipshod work and the policies and character of its darlings on the left.

In any event it’s wise to remember that the press follows the “if it bleeds, it leads” by sensationalizing such things. As Seawriter sagely observes we’ve lived through far crazier times.  

 Keep your perspective.

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