The New York Times issued a major correction Thursday to a controversial editorial about Wednesday’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice outside the nation’s capital.
The shooting left five people — including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and two Capitol Police officers — injured.
In the original Times editorial, titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” the editors wrote, "Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably.”
They then pointed to the 2011 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, as evidence of "political incitement" leading to actual violence:
In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.
Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They're right. Though there's no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.
However, there is no evidence linking Palin's political action committee’s map to the shooting.
CNN reported that Loughner’s fixation on Giffords began as early as 2007, years before the map was published. Additionally, the map did not put Giffords herself under crosshairs, but rather her district.
The Washington Post has repeatedly dubbed the claim that Loughner was incited by Palin’s political action committee “bogus.”
As expected, conservatives were quick to point out the inaccuracies in the editorial. But they weren't alone, multiple mainstream journalists joined in the criticism, including CNN's Jake Tapper and MSNBC's Chris Hayes.
@EsotericCD even way back in Jan 2011 we knew that Loughlin's obsession began 3 years before the Palin map. https://t.co/9nJccuIQnb— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper)1497493231.0
@DavidAFrench @MattMackowiak Let me chime here to say: yeah, that's nuts.— Chris Hayes (@Chris Hayes)1497496234.0
Ben Dreyfuss from the liberal Mother Jones called the editorial "stupid" and reiterated the fact that Palin had nothing to do with the Giffords shooting.
On Thursday, the Times issued a correction to the online version of the editorial:
The revised editorial states:
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.
In a Facebook post, Palin called the initial editorial “sickening.”
On Twitter, Palin suggested that she might have a libel case against the paper.
(1/2) @nytopinion - commonsense suggestion by a journalist, am talking to attorneys this AM and exploring options.… https://t.co/d71FrfJUY5— Sarah Palin (@Sarah Palin)1497541673.0
(2/2) ...WHY someone would no longer be in public eye? Think constant libel & slander have anything to do with it? 🤔— Sarah Palin (@Sarah Palin)1497541830.0
And many on Twitter felt that the Times’ correction was too little too late:
NYT issues a correction to their completely false editorial. They knew this and still wrote it. https://t.co/WrOyitulKX— Alyssa Canobbio Hackbarth (@Alyssa Canobbio Hackbarth)1497538913.0
Worth noting: all NYT readers looking at the print version will still be reading the false version. Just now added. https://t.co/mUcljQsvx2— Peter J. Hasson (@Peter J. Hasson)1497539906.0
Glad the Times issued the correction. Does anyone over there want to address how that error/damnable lie got into print?— Jim Geraghty (@Jim Geraghty)1497539509.0
The mere mention of Palin's map is a baseless, bizarre, irrelevant non-sequitur. https://t.co/NhXcIFEjF0— Guy Benson (@Guy Benson)1497539536.0