How the media wanted Loughner to play out

Even now, the details on Jared Lee Loughner are still short on facts. He may have listed Mein Kampf as a favorite book, and Giffords is Jewish, so clearly he’s a white supremacist tied to fringe groups? Oh wait, he also listed the Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books, is potentially Jewish himself, even the ADL says this isn’t about anti-semitism, and there aren’t ties to white groups. Loughner used a gun and so it proves he’s a gun nut and there’s a need to regulate gun clips? Well, Giffords is pro-gun and Loughner followed the laws when he purchased his weapon. Loughner’s killing for politics and the media makes all political violence out to be conducted by hypocritical pro-lifers? Oh wait, he joked about abortions and was pro-choice in college and was, at best, apolitical.

Every standard line used by the media, overtly and implied in the news stories and by the pundits, has spectacularly fallen apart within 12 hours. Yet they continue to feed us lines and supposed links to the right. It’s as if every tragedy must go through a public vetting in the news for every potential connection to the right, reported initially as fact.

No one had any details about Loughner, but every pundit embarrassed themselves by arguing as though they did. Lacking facts, they went to great lengths to make him a Manchurian Candidate from within the ranks of the Tea Party. The effort to politicize the shooting is repugnant, and the use of several deaths, including a nine-year-old girl, is disgusting in that they just wanted a quick cheap political point.

Now, with a quick sleight of hand, the media is moving to new lesser stories in order to avoid acknowledging its glaring errors during the Loughner feeding frenzy. Most won’t even print a correction to the indictment they’ve used against the right the past week. The misuse of tone, loaded headlines and false assumptions are all meant to be swept under the rug.

It shows, however, what their gameplan really was, how they had hoped this would turn out.

When Eric Rudolph was arrested, polemic groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center used guilt by association and simple geography as an indictment. Rudolph used violence in pursuit of pro-life values, but that wasn’t enough. The SPLC said that he had grown up but miles away from an alleged Holocaust denier. Later, in “Bowling for Columbine,” Michael Moore said that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were subconsciously affected by the military-industrial complex around them, that it programmed them to kill. This is the use of tragedy, sometimes just through geography, in order to advance a crass political point, to malign mainstream groups using the flimsiest of evidence.

Loughner was going to be the right-wing nut driven to kill by the rants on talk radio, linked to white supremacists and reading Mein Kampf at night while watching Sarah Palin’s television show and reading The American Conservative. He was going to be the natural product of ‘prejudice’ in Arizona. From Tea Party to Hitler to the gun store was the Lifetime made-for-tv movie waiting for us all to suffer through.

The caricature they believe about the right was playing out in reality, and they couldn’t resist.

The media was ready to roll with this narrative fed to them by left-wing groups. The media willingly assigned itself the role of propagandist lacking evidence. Not content to wait for facts, they just invented them or implied them. Surely a white kid from the suburbs must be a racist nazi. Surely he loved Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, just look at him. The media was salivating at the thought of endlessly reporting on a deranged right-wing killer linked to all the people they disliked and then linking them to all that’s wrong with the world in their minds.

NPR wanted to host the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok on “All Things Considered” explaining “links” to white supremacists, neo-nazis, Holocaust deniers, anti-abortionists, Latin Mass Catholics and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Then it would be short work to connect them all to the Tea Party through Arizona.

It began with Sheriff Dupnik playing politician by blaming the state’s political climate and never missing an opportunity to get noticed by blaming his neighbor’s voting patterns. He gave them the chance to use guilt-by-zipcode to explain this tragedy.

It just happened to be entirely wrong.

They hoped to get ahead of the news cycle, to form the ‘narrative’ of the event, to malign their political opponents to score cheap political points. Being the first to make a slander usually sets the tone and wins the news cycle regardless of how wrong it proves to be later. Now they just hope we forget their errors.

Shamelessly, the liberal media now focuses on Sarah Palin’s word usage rather than their own massive inaccuracies, partisanship and journalistic malpractice this past week. We’re being given a glimpse of everything that’s wrong with journalism.