It is fair to ask, as New York Times reporters Carl Hulse and Kate Zernike do in a front-page story Sunday (“Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics”), “whether extremism, antigovernment sentiment and even simple political passion at both ends of the ideological spectrum have created a climate promoting violence.” And for the Times, even though the “exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remain unclear,” it is hard to imagine that Sarah Palin wasn’t behind it.

As American Thinker reports, The New York Times inserted this paragraph in the middle of a story about the mass murder:

“During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for reelection; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin's map.”

It was up at The New York Times online during the Saturday football playoffs directly after the killings occurred. It gives their first impression of the killings.

Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner seems an unlikely follower of Palin. A YouTube profile claiming to be Loughner’s lists among his favored writers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. If anything, Loughner appears dazed and confused at best and his Army rejection and dismissal from college suggest much deeper issues. The Times’s Sunday story showed no interest in “both ends of the ideological spectrum” but directly compares the Tucson killings with the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 and frames Palin and the Tea Party throughout in context with this act of terrorism.

This is pure mnemonic slander; that is, slander by association, insidious propaganda implying that the Tucson killings were second act by a wannabe to the right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombings. Say what you like about McVeigh, he was of sound, terrorist mind with a clear political objective: a dedicated Samurai, much like the purposeful Islamic terrorists of al Qaeda at war with Israel and America. McVeigh was a soldier of ideology who followed his dark passenger to his death. Loughner appears to have been overwhelmed by the times and mentally unstable, quite possibly schizophrenic.

A better and more accurate comparison might be with Charles Manson, caught up in the swirling emotions of the ’60s and seeing in Paul McCartney’s “Helter Skelter” a call to Armageddon.

As I recall, public opinion at the time generally followed John Lennon’s suggestion that he, Manson, was simply “cracked.” To suggest otherwise political objectives in the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would have been absurd.

But today we get our opinions from stand-up comedians, professional wrestlers, pop musicians, strippers and second-rate actors like Alec Baldwin. We wait with bated breath to see what Jon Stewart has to say at Comedy Central, as comic Stewart last week was called the Edward R. Murrow of our own day by The New York Times. Did somebody say “cracked”?

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