Stephanopoulos, NYT, CNN, WaPo decline to correct erroneous Giffords reporting

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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ABC News host George Stephanopoulos refuses to admit fault or issue a correction for implying politics had something to do with accused Tucson tragedy shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s motives.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic White House press secretary, asked Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat: “The rhetoric definitely got ratcheted up all throughout the course of the campaign. Going forward, what do you think you, other members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans and the like can do to help bring the temperature down?”*

When The Daily Caller asked Stephanopoulos if he would air a correction for the error, he asked, “What’s false in that question?”

“I explicitly said at the top of that broadcast that we didn’t know the killer’s motivation, whether this was more akin to Columbine or Oklahoma City,” Stephanopoulos said in an e-mail to TheDC. “A point endorsed and reinforced by George Will later in the program. Asking the chair of the Democratic Campaign what responsibility he’s going to take to ratchet down the political rhetoric in no way repeats or endorses a ‘baseless accusation.’”

TheDC also asked the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN if they were going to run corrections for the mistakes their reporters, anchors and columnists made.

An editorial page assistant at the New York Times said it was up to columnist Paul Krugman whether he was going to run a correction for his mistakes. Krugman asserted that the Tea Party movement factored into Loughner’s shooting of Giffords and 19 other people on Saturday.

The Post and CNN failed to respond to TheDC’s requests for comment.

CNN’s State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley asked Senator Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, “I guess that the undertow — and certainly it’s not an undertow on the Internet — but the undertow with politicians now speaking publicly is, well, the Republicans and the Tea Party and Sarah Palin have gone way too far in their rhetoric; it’s been violent rhetoric, and therefore this sort of thing happens. Are you making that direct connection?”

She asked Durbin that in response to Durbin saying, “we live in a world of violent images and violent words, but those of us in public life and the journalists who cover us should be thoughtful in response to this and try to bring down the rhetoric, which I’m afraid has become pervasive in our discussion of political issues. The phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload,’ putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets, these sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response. And I think that we all have an obligation, both political parties — and let me salute the senior senator from Arizona, John McCain, whose statement yesterday was clear and unequivocal that we are not accepting this kind of conduct as being anywhere near the mainstream.”

Durbin never directly named Palin or the Tea Party movement in any of his comments on the State of the Union. Crowley was the first to name Palin and the Tea Party movement.

CNN’s Piers Morgan, who takes over longtime television newsman Larry King’s timeslot next week, tweeted, “This now deleted image from Sarah Palin website will be reason this terrible shooting has huge political ramifications,” linking the map Palin made of targeted congressional districts for the 2010 midterm elections.

Many of the Washington Post stories that linked Loughner to the Tea Party movement and Palin were published before Loughner’s name was released. The Post did this through stories linking the tragedy to Giffords’s office getting vandalized, giving credence to baseless liberal connections by interviewing Arizona Tea Partiers about what they thought of the attack and by connecting federal judge John Roll’s death to the state’s illegal immigration debate.

*Due to a transcript service issue, this story originally used a wrong word in Stephanopoulos’s question to Van Hollen. The story originally used “thousand” instead of “throughout” in the quote.