Politics

WaPo Fact-Check: ‘Not A Good Sign’ That NYT Editors Used Lie To Smear Palin

The left-leaning Washington Post awarded four “Pinocchios” to the lie that former Alaska Gov. incited schizophrenic Jared Loughner to shoot Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011 — a long-debunked claim that the NYT used to attack Republicans after a left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder dozens of Republican congressmen on Wednesday.

The NYT editorial board claimed there was a clear “link to political incitement” in the Giffords shooting because Palin placed crosshairs on Gifford’s district as one of the House seats Republicans needed to flip in 2012.  The editors later described it as a “sign of incitement” that was “direct.” There is no evidence to support that claim. (RELATED: NYT Columnists Admit Their Paper Smeared Sarah Palin)

The NYT column “showed how pervasive this debunked talking point still is on the political left, and we wanted to set the record straight,” wrote WaPo fact-checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee.

“It’s unclear whether Loughner even knew of Palin’s map, but it probably would not have changed the outcome. His focus on Giffords began as early as 2007, long before the map was published. He became fixated on her since he met her at a constituent event in 2007, and decided he was unsatisfied by her answer to his question: ‘If words could not be understood, then what does government mean?'” Lee continued.

“Loughner had no clear political views. Instead, he was a troubled man who abused alcohol and drugs, and whose mental illness was apparent to his classmates and family even before he was diagnosed as schizophrenic during his court trial,” the fact-check continued.

“We’re glad to see this fixed in the editorial, but it’s not a good sign that the debunked talking point was included as fact in the editorial of a major media outlet,” Lee concluded. “Any future references to this talking point by politicians or political groups will receive Four Pinocchios.”

The NYT revised the editorial online after significant criticism in the media. Their print version of Thursday’s paper, however, went out well before the lie was corrected. (RELATED: Pelosi Attacks Republicans Day After GOP Shooting)