Politics

NYT Columnists Admit Their Paper Smeared Sarah Palin

The New York Times’ editorial board told a lie about Sarah Palin.

In a column that ran in Thursday’s paper, the NYT used the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise to again blame Sarah Palin for the 2011 shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Giffords was shot by a schizophrenic man who was not a fan of Palin (or conservatives in general) and had been obsessed with the then-congresswoman for years before Palin placed Giffords’ district in crosshairs as one of the districts Republicans should flip in 2012. (RELATED: NYT Uses GOP Shooting To Falsely Attack Sarah Palin With Debunked Conspiracy Theory)

In two Thursday columns of their own, NYT columnists Bret Stephens and Charles Blow each admitted what the editorial board wouldn’t: the attack on Palin is entirely baseless.

Neither Stephens — a Never Trump Republican who voted for Hillary Clinton — nor Blow — a liberal who claimed to have “an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn” — is partial to the Tea Party movement of which Palin was a figurehead in 2011.

They both conceded the absence of evidence — which the NYT has chided Trump for lacking when pushing conspiracy theories — to link the 2011 attack to Palin,  although both Stephns and Blow ignored the NYT’s role in the 2011 smears, as well as their paper’s recycling of those smears in Thursday’s paper.

Blow noted that even in 2011 “it was not possible to connect the dots between [Republicans’] irresponsible talk and the Tucson shooter.” In the aftermath of the Giffords shooting, Blow’s Thursday column said, he “was moved to commit an entire column to condemning the left for linking the shooting so closely to political rhetoric.”

The NYT editors, nevertheless, felt comfortable doing exactly that — both in 2011 and on Thursday. “In 2011, when 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,” the editors unapologetically recounted. “Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

(After harsh criticism, the NYT added in the sentence: “But no connection to that crime was ever established.” The original version can still be seen in archived format here. The very next paragraph, in apparent contradiction of the update, still claimed there was a direct “sign of incitement” in the Giffords attack. The NYT then made another edit, removing that sentence and finally adding in an editor’s note.)

“It was foul of the left to accuse the Tea Party of inciting Loughner’s rampage — Bernie Sanders among them — all the more so since evidence for the claim was so strained,” Stephens wrote, leaving out that his paper led the charge in foisting those accusations on the Tea Party. Stephens noted that “Jared Loughner was a paranoid schizophrenic of no fixed ideological orientation.”

Both Stephens and Blow, it’s worth noting, used Palin’s innocence to support the argument that leftist rhetoric had no bearing on James Hodgkinson’s decision to open fire on Republican congressmen and staffers Wednesday morning.