Mark Halperin: Conservatives should turn the other cheek when scapegoated for murder

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During a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday, the panel conceded that conservatives and Tea Party activists were unfairly scapegoated in the wake of Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., which killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life after a gunshot wound to the head. Mark Halperin of Time just thinks conservatives shouldn’t bother defending themselves, so as to avoid further political escalation.

“Obviously, the initial reaction was so offensive to conservatives it has united everybody from Rush Limbaugh to David Brooks this morning, who wrote a very, very compelling piece that the scapegoating was an offensive act,” Joe Scarborough said during a discussion about the politicization of the tragedy.

Despite claiming the media had behaved “pretty well so far,” Halperin seemed to agree with Scarborough’s assertion that “a shooting was turned into fodder to attack conservatives.” But he seemed to find more fault with how conservatives reacted to unfair attacks than with the original accusations.

“I just want to single out one thing. I think the media and the politicians have behaved pretty well so far. I’m worried about the anger of the right-wing commentariat,” Halperin said. “Fox and George Will and other conservatives are in some cases justifiably upset at liberals, but they’re turning this back into the standard operating procedure of ‘all this is war and fodder for content’ rather than trying to bring the country together.”

“Wait a second,” Scarborough responded. “I think they would say that you have that backwards, that a shooting was turned into fodder to attack conservatives.”

Halperin: “And, I already made that criticism, as well. They’re right, but rather than seizing on it and turning the other cheek, they’re back at their war stations. that’s not going to help us.”

The conversation then pivoted from a discussion of the actual facts to yet another lecture on rhetoric, with Scarborough hoping conservatives see it as a “wake-up call” on rhetoric even though he had just established that there was no connection between rhetoric and the shooting.