And now, ombudsing the ombudsmen. The Kansas City Star watchdog posted a blog in response to our segment regarding “The assassination attempt you never heard of.” Quickly, it was an assassination attempt on the governor of Missouri by a crazy person in 2010, that also happened to be a Che Guevara -quoting, left wing- rioting lunatic.
Multiple readers have asked me about something they heard on the Glenn Beck show recently. I wasn't listening, so I can't vouch for what was said, though his official website has an account of it.
I have zero interest in tracking down how this story originated or has filtered through the Internet, but three things are indisputable:
1. The story was big local news, occupying the lead position on the Sept. 15 and 16 Star front pages, both times with the color mugshot of the suspect. Every other major news source in town also played it very prominently.
Look, it's not his job to be the Glenn Beck watchdog, so I can't criticize him too much for not hearing the segment. Though, it appears that he has some incorrect impressions on what our issue was with the reporting of the story. We didn’t say it didn’t make local news. We, in fact, specifically mentioned the Kansas City Star as one paper who covered the incident. But, of course, that wasn’t the point of the segment that he didn't listen to.
2. Brezik had years earlier been diagnosed with the serious mental illness of paranoid schizophrenia -- something that I believe most reasonable people would agree obviates drawing any conclusions about how his supposed political beliefs may have informed his actions.
Thank you! This was our exact point on the Tucson shooting. The obvious mental illness of Jared Lee Loughner should have derailed the political attacks from the beginning. No one on the show believes that the left should be held responsible for the attempted murder of Missouri’s governor. We believe that people who actually do the shooting and stabbing, should be held responsible for the shooting and the stabbing. Our point was -- in the Loughner case, that’s not how the media covered the story at all.
For example on KansasCity.com:
Day of shooting, bring up possible connection.
Giffords was among the Democratic members of Congress singled out for defeat last spring by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who used rifle scope-like crosshairs to single out the 20 seats she wanted to turn Republican.
Next day, act stunned that despite lack of evidence, people are talking about connection.
There's no evidence that Palin's ad contributed to a gunman's decision Saturday to shoot Giffords in a rampage that killed six bystanders and left her gravely wounded with a brain injury. But the shooting is sparking an intense debate over whether incendiary political talk across the country - punctuated with references to guns and the blood of slain politicians - is a real danger, or merely vivid political rhetoric.
Third day, tell the story of the debate as an innocent bystander.
Concerns about the nation’s heated political environment were raised within hours of the shootings, when Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggested that “vitriolic rhetoric” might have played a role in triggering the violence.
Our point on this topic was simply to point out that the cases were handled differently. In most ways, the Missouri case was the one covered CORRECTLY. Our point was that the Arizona case was not.
3. It's nonsense to declare it wasn't reported elsewhere. A cursory check of the Nexis news database shows that it most certainly did play in the media outside this area, in sources as far-flung as The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, and the National Journal's Hotline. Multiple stories went out on the Associated Press wire, and they surely ran in papers and on websites around the world. (Neither Nexis nor the AP tracks all the places wire content runs, so there's no way to find them all.)
We too, did a “cursory check” and found this:
Factiva/Nexis search of U.S. Newspapers yields 10 articles from 7 sources:
- Charleston Gazette
- Bellville News
- Kansas City Star
- Tulsa World
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- The Virginian-Pilot
- Associated Press ran 5 wires on the subject between 9/14/2010 and 9/23/2010
We didn’t declare that the incident itself wasn’t reported elsewhere, though I hadn’t heard a word about it personally. The point was that, unlike Arizona, no one ran with a narrative about his political leanings. As far as I know, that was not the focus of any of the above stories. Does anyone honestly believe that if his Facebook page was loaded up with quotes from Sarah Palin that wouldn’t have been a focus of the story? Honestly?
This incident may be a somewhat-interesting piece of spot news to people outside the KC area, but it certainly isn't a big story. There's no trend or any indication of a conspiracy.
Really? An attempted assassination of a governor isn’t a big story? I sorta kinda think it kinda sorta is.
And though I don't often offer my own opinions, I'll say I find it absolutely ludicrous and insulting to compare it to a mass shooting that killed six and wounded 14, including a U.S. District Court judge, a nine-year-old bystander and a U.S. representative.
It depends on how you’re comparing them. Thankfully, the crazy person in Missouri was unsuccessful. Tragically, the Arizona shooter completed many of his horrific wishes. So, no—there’s no comparison there. The comparison of the post-tragedy blame game is apt however, because it shouldn’t appear in either case. Again, the story that was covered more competently was the Missouri case—NOT the Arizona case.
Furthermore, ascribing political import to this particular individual's actions is an extremely close parallel to what Pima County, Ariz. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been so roundly criticized for from many sides in the wake of the recent Tuscon shootings.
Ahhhhhh...we can end on an agreement. Che Guevara was a psychotic mass murderer, yet I still don’t blame him for the attack on the governor. You cannot rationally assign blame for an individual who becomes violent to the commentators they like, the cereal they eat, or the brand of toothpaste they buy. It is his/her fault. Period. This was our point. While the sheriff was criticized by many (the vast majority on the right) it was the media that beat him to the punch by talking about Sarah Palin. Then they amplified the sheriff's ridiculous argument by treating it as if it was a legitimate angle on this story. It never was.
As far as I know, The Kansas City Star didn't do anything wrong in their reporting of the Missouri case. Our problem is with the handling of the aftermath of the Arizona case from almost everyone in the media, which should have been focused on the human tragedy, rather than finger pointing.