Did "vitriol" and political rhetoric really drive a 22-year-old gunman to murder in Arizona?
On Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik seemed to suggest as much during a news conference recapping the day's horrific events.
"I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it's time that we do the soul-searching," the sheriff said.
Sheriff Dupnik repeated his assertions Sunday when he delivered remarks in an afternoon press conference with FBI director Mueller and during an afternoon interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. Free speech has "consequences," he said.
When Megyn Kelly questioned whether a law enforcement official like Dupnik should insert their personal opinions into an investigation, Dupnik doubled down:
A number of liberal politicians have applauded Dupnik for expressing his personal opinions so openly while in front of the cameras.
"The sheriff out there in Tucson, I think he's got it right," Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the assistant minority whip, told "Fox News Sunday." "Words do have consequences. And I think that we have to really -- this is nothing new. I've been saying this for a long time now."
"I think the sheriff was right," added Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting, and inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral. And I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action," Hoyer said. :And I think we need to all take cognizance of that and be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences."