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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

World

Shooting and the media war that followed
Yashwant Raj
Washington, January 11, 2011
First Published: 23:18 IST(11/1/2011)
Last Updated: 23:22 IST(11/1/2011)

Jared Lee Loughner just pulled the trigger, who put the gun in his hand?

The Tucson shooting, which left six people dead and a Democrat congresswoman struggling for her life, has quickly turned into a hunt for conservatives to hang for it, essentially three extremely divisive figures on the Right.

They are Republican Sarah Palin, who ran unsuccessfully for the post of vice-president, and Fox TV news anchors Bill O'Reilly, who is America's most watched, and Glenn Beck, the most discussed.

The first shot was fired by the local sheriff of the area where the incident happened. He blamed "vitriolic" talk for the shooting.

This was quickly picked up by MSNBC, the unabashedly liberal news network.

Keith Olberman, MSNBC's star anchor who was recently suspended by the network for donating campaign money to a Democratic candidate, ran with that demanding an apology from Palin, Beck and O'Reilly.

During the November elections, Palin's website had run a map of the country with a few constituencies cross-haired for special treatment - Gabrielle Gifford's was among them.

The map has been since pulled down. But Palin is on the defensive.

All three are being blamed for "vitriolic political rhetoric", which, it is being said, could have turned Loughner into a killer. The suspect himself has not made or indicated any such connection though.

But that is only a minor point in the debate.

The accusations have hit home.

While Palin is keeping low, Beck and O'Reilly have come out all guns blazing. Beck read out a mail he wrote to Palin offering her his support. O'Reilly called his critics "leftist loons".

Worried by the pitch, saner elements on either side of the aisle are calling for toning down the rhetoric. But for the moment, it's war at Prime Time with politics written all over it.


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