In what is being referred to as his "parting shot" to Republicans, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley actually said Thursday that Republicans were partly to blame for the GOP baseball shooting that nearly took the life of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and injured many more on Wednesday.
"It's time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress yesterday was foreseeable, predictable, and to some degree, self-inflicted," Pelley began. "Too many leaders and political commentators who set an example for us to follow have led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric, which, it should be no surprise, has led to violence. Yesterday was not the first time.
"In December last year, a man with an assault rifle stormed into a Washington area pizzeria to free child sex slaves that Hillary Clinton was holding there — or at least that's what political blog sites had said," he continued, referring to the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. "He fired into a locked door to discover no children in chains."
"Bernie Sanders has called the president the most dangerous in history," Pelley said, "and the shooter yesterday was a Sanders volunteer.
"You might think that no sane person would act on political hate speech and you'd be right," the anchor added. "Trouble is, there are a lot of Americans who struggle with mental illness.
"In February, the president tweeted that the news media were 'the enemy of the American people," Pelley continued. "Later, at a lunch for reporters, President Trump was asked whether he worried that language would incite violence. His pause indicated it had never crossed his mind. And then he said, 'No, it doesn't worry me.'
"As children, we're taught 'words will never hurt me,' but when you think about it, violence almost always begins with words," he said.
"In the Twitter world we've come to believe that our first thought is our best thought," he concluded. "It's past time for all of us — presidents, politicians, reporters, citizens, all of us — to pause to think again."
Pelley, who is leaving the anchor chair at CBS because of low ratings and heading to "60 Minutes," was excoriated on social media for the commentary.
Wow... Despicable is too kind of a word to describe CBS & Pelley @CBS @ScottPelley https://t.co/r7ikyoRGZq— Margo⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Margo⭐️⭐️⭐️) 1497839980.0
Media's Scott Pelley attempts to defend Liberal psychopath. https://t.co/UQFrDaNtQI
— Former Republican 👌 (@_michael_2015_) June 19, 2017
Glad Scott Pelley got fired! How dare he say Steve Scalise's & the Republicans getting shot at was partially "self-inflicted." Imbecile!— Dawn Squires (@Dawn Squires) 1497881567.0
Conservatives and others on the right have noted the difference in the coverage of the attack on Republicans with previous attacks. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pinned the blame of the 2011 Gabrielle Giffords shooting squarely on Republican rhetoric, while not taking any responsibility for his own rhetoric that might have animated the shooter James Hodgkinson. The attacker had volunteered on Sanders' presidential campaign and left a slew of anti-Republican rhetoric on social media.
A New York Times op-ed piece made a similar comparison but explicitly, and falsely, claimed that there were more ties between Sarah Palin's rhetoric and the Giffords shooting than there were between left-wing rhetoric and the Republican shooting.
Doctors said Sunday that Scalise's condition improved from critical to serious and that he was speaking to his family and loved ones.