Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) and the New York Times – what would you say they all have in common?
They all attempted to inject politics into the Capitol Hill shooting and link it to the government shutdown battle when very little information was known.
Rep. Rangel told Politicker his “first thought” after reports of shots fired circulated at the U.S. Capitol was that “frustration” with Republicans “ignited somebody already imbalanced and caused this type of thing.”
“There are people working for the government, not getting their paychecks, saying, ‘Why me?’” he said.
To be clear, there was very limited information available in the aftermath of the incident, and even though there are reports that the female suspect has a history of mental illness — they are still just reports.
Rep. Lee took to the House floor on Thursday and lectured Republicans for supposedly keeping the government shut down and said their “piecemeal” approach to fund more parts of the government was unacceptable.
Then she said this:
“Rather than piecemeal the American dream, rather than respond in a way that leaves 8,000 federal employees unemployed. And God knows the tragedy of this poor person that came on the Hill in a black car — no one knows what drive this person to do this. But what I would say to you is, lets get our wheels back on, serve the American people, bring them back, vote for a bill today that will open the government.”
To be fair, she didn’t directly say that the partial government shutdown had anything to do with the Capitol Hill shooting and car chase, but she lumped the incident in with her argument to end the partial government shutdown when the two topics are entirely unrelated thus far.
Further, as Capitol Hill was on lockdown Thursday, Rep. Griffin scolded President Barack Obama, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for their “violent rhetoric.” He included the hashtag “#Disgusting.”
He didn’t directly blame his Democratic opponents for contributing to the incident, but it was implied to a certain degree that their “violent rhetoric” was riling people up.
Griffin later apologized, telling BuzzFeed that he “tweeted out of emotion.” He also admitted that the “timing was not helpful.”
Now, the New York Times, as the situation was still fluid and uncertain, tweeted out the following headline: “Fiscal Crisis: Reports of Shooter Outside Capitol.”
Not only did it turn out that there was no shooter outside the U.S. Capitol, the suspect likely wasn’t even armed (though police have not confirmed). Additionally, the Times directly linked the “Fiscal Crisis” to what was only a “suspected” shooting at the time.
When there’s a tragedy, it’s always best to leave the politics out of it and wait until all the facts come out.