TV news shows address Gabrielle Giffords shooting: Passion, blame, and self-examination, from Sarah Palin to Keith Olbermann

In the wake of the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, TV news shows went into overdrive in reporting the details of the rampage that wounded or killed numerous people in Tucson. The rhetoric on cable news and the network Sunday morning news shows heated up quickly, with some pointing to items such a target-in-crosshairs symbol placed over Rep. Giffords’ congressional district on Sarah Palin’s website.

Keith Olbermann issued a particularly astringent “Special Comment” on a special Saturday edition of MSNBC’s Countdown. In it, he called upon Palin to “repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics.” He called for both the right and the left to alter their hostile imagery:

Olbermann said that “The rhetoric has devolved and descended, past the ugly and past the threatening and past the fantastic and into the imminently murderous.” He specifically named Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, his competition on Fox News, as being guilty of inflammatory turns of phrase about their political “targets” — Olbermann suggested that the very word “target” should no longer be used in this context.

He also apologized for his own use of hostile rhetoric in the past.

Shows from CNN’s Reliable Sources to the Sunday morning news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC all devoted most of their shows to this horrific act.

What do you think of Olbermann’s commentary, and TV news coverage of the Arizona tragedy?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (212 total) Add your comment
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  • Glenn

    I really don’t think Sarah Palin deliberately played a roles in yesterday’s actions. But she continues to not understand how powerful her rhetoric has on her followers and only aids in their anger/hate. Please, if not for yourself, but for the good of society do not turn America into a hateful country that resembles those we think are beneath us. I doubt you will heed the wisdom of any sane individual, but just remember there will be a day of reckoning, when you will one day see the hate you have stirred in one group of people over another, and their deaths, their losses will be on your head.

    • adam

      Im sure Palin doesnt care, she is too dumb to understand how powerful her rhetoric has to her follower and if she does get it, she doesnt care and probably enjoys it when someone takes her too seriously.

      • Jacquelyn

        The biggest thing you can do is underestimate her. She is way smarter than you think…I dont side with her but to call her dumb is to be dumb yourself. It is critical to understand how powerful she actually is. That does not mean you have to agree with her

      • wake up

        You people are too dumb to understand! Do any of you even look into any of the facts? This idiot was a Hilter fan, a Jew hater, which Gifford is. Why do you rush to blame everything on Palin? The left is to “lazy” to investigate the facts, so it makes it easy to lay blame on the right.

      • Dear Wake Up

        According to the NY Times, Giffords is the first Jewish Congresswoman from her state.

      • Mike

        Too* lazy to investigate the facts? Whether or not he was directly influenced by any pundit’s words, it is undeniable that the hostile and polar environment that has consumed public discourse since the national election in ’08, has an effect on the human psyche. Even if you only hear it for a moment, it is a toxin to the individual, and society. It’s no coincidence that the Oklahoma bombing happened under a Democratic President, which was carried out by a right-wing fanatic. Just as that man flew his plane into an IRS building, and now this. All wrote in extent their anti-government ideas and delusional conspiracies. This anti-government and violent rhetoric that the right hints at, and openly incites, is everywhere. I beg you to simple look at Youtube for video proof, and compare and contrast the demeanor and words of any “left” (which the right considers the rest of the media, other than Fox)commentator or journalist, when compared to the right. Why didn’t legitimate public figures on the right cast out these fringe groups, instead of catering to them, and empowering them? Fox News, Limbaugh, Palin and many powerful politicians are all responsible for perpetuating hate in this country, and they’re just the face of thousands of radio and talk show hosts that fall in step.

      • Josh

        There’s no need to investigate. Palin created her hitlist, complete with crosshairs. And guess what happened to one of the people on that list. She was shot. And had received threats for months. She’s done nothing to condemn these acts and continues to speak using aggressive rhetoric. She’s not innocent here. She’s been an inciting force, and sees nothing wrong with it. She’s only powerful because the media us obsessed with her. She’s not smart. She’s as ignorant as they come.

      • dm

        Mike – well said! This culture of hate and intolerance – from the left and right (but come on, mostly the right) – affects all of us in one way or another, whether by numbing us to anger and vitriole, or by pushing an already troubled person a little closer to the edge. Hopefully some good will come from this tragedy.

    • LOL

      GOP fears Olbermann.

      • d$

        Most of the GOP probably doesnt even know who Keith Olbermann is. And outside of the 1200 people who watch this show, most other Americans don’t know who Olbermann is–I for one miss him on ESPN. He was much better.
        And I find it funny that Olbermann condemns others for their “hostile rhetoric”, then says, “Oh, but I’m sorry for previous hostile rhetoric, so its not really my fault, its everyone else’s fault.”
        Olbermann is a smart guy. But he’s mean, and when I watch his show, I can easily cut holes in every bit of his logic and his argument.

      • Jeff

        d$ – Excellent. Actually, I think only 37 idiots watch his show, which by the way, is the most successful on that socialistic channel. @ people watch Chris Matthews, He and his mother.

      • Will

        @ jeff,

        I find it funny that in an article about using responsible rhetoric you do the complete opposite and label MSNBC a “socialist channel.”
        Some people apparently never learn.

      • Jeff

        Entertainment Weekly Arithmetic,

        Will = Idiot

      • Jeff

        Hey Will, I mean Idiot, an article on responsible reporting and they have a clip of Obermann?

        Will, you are not just an idiot, you’re an I D I O T !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • deedee

      if she is too dumb to understand, she is still responsible

      • justjack

        I don’t know if it’s that she’s dumb… I really don’t get it, though. I mean, if I said to someone “The way to fix your problems is to get your guns! Reload! Use your Second Amendment solution!” and then that person SHOT someone… personally, I’d feel some responsibility for that. Yeah, I didn’t pull the trigger, but if I put the idea in that person’s head, don’t I share at least SOME moral culpability for it?
        Or is that just me, and is this why I’ll never be a politician… because I have a moral center?

    • Katy Smith

      Mr.Obermann should start cleaning his own house, and other should do
      the same. They’re always pointing
      their finger at someone else.

      • anamarie

        I know you haters willhve a hard time understanding this, but his admitting he has been part ofthe problemand apologizing is him n fact taking responsibility,and it is all he is asking the Right to do. Of course poor Sarah and Glenn should not have to take responsibility right?

      • Jeff

        Typical demoncrats! They promise to fix the problems, never do and then accuse others and make excuses. Typical democrats.

      • Erin

        @ Jeff,

        You say the Democrats “accuse others and make excuses”

        What are you doing exactly then? Do you not see your own hypocrisy?

      • Jeff

        Poor,dumb Erin, I’m speaking the truth. You are probably young and thus, uneducated and stupid.

      • Dicazi

        That’s exactly what Mr. Obermann is doing and saying. He’s saying both sides have been guilty and need to stop, including himself.

      • Renard

        Tea Party men beat up a girl protesting Ron Paul on Oct 27. Meanwhile two Tea Party women faked attacked on themselves (one cut her own face, the other doused her own face in acid) and tried to garner sympathy by claiming they were attacked by liberals. Democrats are ACTUALLY being attacked and killed, while Tea Partyers are FAKING their own assaults. The Tea Party attracts only the most dogmatic, insane and drooling crazies in the country to their cause.

    • kahuna

      This is what palin lovers don’t get. Liberals HATE her because she is so careless and hateful in her rhetoric. Rhetoric that she uses to promote and enrich herself. Immediately following the shooting, team sarah purged her pac website of the targets on her campaign map and sarah issued a statement of condolences. Why was she the first to issue a statement if she didn’t feel some involvment?

      • Breckster82

        it’s called PR

      • Ceyda

        What a fitting name u have! Did the clotnisos take the land over in the name of the father, the son and the holy sipirit or was it more of a violent political advance? IF u attribute everything done by christians to their religion being the motivation then u need get admitted in a mental hospital immediately because their Jesus never did such things nor did he tell his followers to do so. Mohamed did these things and told his followers to do so!

      • Aga

        jjaydeeify / @bigbossmonster knowledge doesn’t make you less igaronnt, or less stupid. knowledge isn’t picking up a book and understanding the facts and figures presented to you in them. you’re still an idiot, no matter what degree or job you land yourself. you’re nothing more than a pathetic moron with a cold and unworthy heart. good luck with your life that is so clearly going to head nowhere.

    • Louise

      Sarah Palin does not care that she uses hateful rhetoric. She is making money by doing it and doesn’t care that it incites people on the edge to act on their crazy thoughts

  • wakeforce

    Get ready to see some examples of exactly what Olbermann is talking about…

    • Barbs

      I’m glad I got to read this before all the crazy comments come.

      • tvwatcher

        People should stop talking about politics like it’s war. Are we going to have citizens fighting each other in the streets? This is becoming a country of mass killings and shooting sprees. People don’t know how to listen to another person’s opinion without freaking out.

      • Maureen

        @tvwatcher: Well said!!

      • Dee McVey

        I read this today and I agree: we need a sarcasm font.

  • André

    Well said, necessary and hopefully heeded by all who have a voice that caries beyond their own ears.

    • André


  • Mad Max

    I just wish people like Olbermann and Beck would shut the fvck up.

    • nunnya

      OMG, yes. All of them… left and right. I’ve stopped watching all of it. It’s all a waste of time. All they do is spread hate and paranoia.

  • DavidJ

    Whether this kid was influenced by the violent rhetoric out there or not, I think Olbermann’s completely right about the hostility out there right now (which is on both sides).

    All you gotta do is take a look at the comment section of any news story nowadays to see how often it devolves into ugly, hateful, and racist nonsense. It’s disgusting as hell to read.

    • Yup

      Couldn’t agree more. In my hometown’s newspaper online the comments are scary. Very scary. Online editors have to shut down comments on some stories because they are so bad.

      Just read the comments about an incident that happened at one of our suburban malls:

      • Kapri

        Satdns back from the keyboard in amazement! Thanks!

  • Jacquelyn

    The downfall of this country will come from our two-party system. BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME! We are constantly saying THEM and THEY when talking about the other side. We are forgetting that these are people…way more than the 535 people in Congress. People are republicans and democrats…when they say THEM they are placing one side against the other, not only in Congress but COUNTRY WIDE! We need to listen to each other…we need to work together and when we disagree it needs to be personal not side vs. side. This will be the downfall of our country if we do not and I sure do not want to see my country…the country I love…go down like that. We are more than Republicans and Democrats. We need to remember that!

  • Mark DeStefano

    Keith Olbermann is absolutely correct. The unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of people out there who are so easily swayed, and tend to follow only the most contaversial commentators. They are drawn to the radical fringe, and we all know who that is. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Couture, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbough, the list goes on and on. The problem is that they are not held accountable for their words which so influence their ignorant audience. The minute someone puts a microphone in front of one of these jerks, someone else gets the idea that what they say is the absolute truth, when it’s not. It’s time for them to be held accountable for their words.

    • joe

      Maybe we should ban them, just like rap music right? Because that is what makes them do these horrible actions. And anyone who listens to Keith O is a freaking moron. He made his name bashing bush/chenney and he’s going to go back and say that its republicans fault? Grow up. this was a mental health issue. I didn’t see them going after Islam after Fort Hood.

      • kristine

        attitudes like this are EXACTLY why our country is in the shape it’s in. instead of bashing/dismissing keith olbermann because he’s said things you don’t like in the past, how about you listen to what he’s actually saying now – which is that violent rhetoric on both sides needs to stop because the lunatics will take it seriously and we will see more things like we saw yesterday.

      • B

        The commentary from the right is far more violent in nature than commentary from the left. This is not to say that those on the left don’t sometimes go too far, but the level of hatred and the violent nature of the comments from those on the right is far worse. No one is saying that anyone should be banned. The comment above yours simply said they need to take responsibility for their own words. Perhaps you should grow up yourself.

      • Aly

        Politicians are so quick to blame musicians and filmmakers whenever there is a shooting. They need to take responsibility for their own violent rhetoric. They aren’t artists and storytellers.

        Also, plenty of people did blame Islam for Fort Hood.

        As for assigning blame, the shooter is at fault for their own actions but all of us are responsible for our roles in influencing the world around us.

        Unless someone can honestly say that they have not contributed to shaping a culture and climate of hate and violence, the blood is on their hands as well.

        People should be coming together and offering their condolences for the victims, not fighting or pushing political agendas.

      • jason8

        Before you call people morons you should learn how to spell Cheney .

      • joe

        I grew up to realize that individuals are responsible for their own actions, not Bush, Obama and certainly not idiot TV commentators (from both sides). Once again, this is a mental health issue, but if you want to make it about politics, his friend said that he was lefty who hated Limbaugh, so it’s Keith O’s fault.

      • LOL

        Isn’t it amazing how the vast majority of these crazy people are right wing?

      • Mike

        B: Of course the commentary on the right is more violent than on the left. People who are characteristically more compassionate and thoughtful drift to the left, which is why most professors, doctors, journalists, etc, align themselves with the Democratic party. This is an unpersonalized generalization, sure, but sociological statistics don’t lie. The right froths at the mouth about gun rights just in case they need to repeat 1861. The left froths at the mouth about “the man” working against them (corporations), and create culture, music, movies, programs, and art that lasts ages (60s anyone?). So I guess you could say the fundamental difference is construction/creation vs. destruction. This is the nature, human nature that is inside all of us, and everyone has more of one than the other.

  • Emily

    Speaking about the local news here in Tucson, the news coverage has been handled well. Many of the reporters knew Gabby Giffords personally, so I can only imagine how difficult it has been for them. This is such a tragedy and I hope that it will bring people together. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of the shooting.

    • sage levine

      kudos to cspan for carryimg the local coverage. much more informative and less breathless

      • Dotty

        Kudos to you! I hadn’t thoghut of that!

  • acoverstock

    What about all the so-called “moderate” Muslims of the world? How come we NEVER, EVER hear from them and get their support to speak out about the DAILY killings and bombing from around the world from their Muslim fundamentalist counterparts? Olbermann is a complete idiot with a clear political agenda every time he speaks.

    • Daki

      im a muslim, and im agisnat building a mosque on ground zero. it just does NOT make SENSE! it seems the imam is TRYING to increase hatred between muslims and the rest of the world, its inviting an unnecessary debate. just change the location for goodness sake. respect the innocent people killed by ignorant, heartless terrorists disgracing islam for their political purposes! im am a muslim and im agisnat terrorism. build the mosque somewhere else, just dont dishonor the deceased.

      • Inyak

        Agreed. I only post his videos here bcauese some cannot see them at FOK News. I also wanted to get him more views and I’ve found that some didn’t even know he had a blog, so this helps let people know he’s still out there. But yes, if you can watch them at FOKNewsChannel, please do!! Give him all the traffic you can!

  • jfms777

    Many of you don’t remember when Reagan was shot (30 years ago). One can make the same arguments back then as these pundits are
    doing today. The alleged shooter
    is clearly a wacko. And so was Reagan’s shooter.

    • Um, no

      I have a feeling that this guy wasn’t trying to impress Jodie Foster.

    • Tom Noonan

      Well, well said. I find it interesting that even though Palin’s supporters took down the gunsight images from her website, they continue to insist that they were really surveyors images. What rubbish!

      • jason8

        Love you in last Action Hero!! Much misunderstood film ever!

      • Terry

        Ditto- Manhunter!

  • Matt

    Oh America. Our country was founded on such a perfect ideal that it’ll never live up to. That’s why all these commentators exist in a way they just don’t in Europe and Asia, and we lap them up.

    • jason8

      Sorry Matt your wrong! I lived in Japan and England. And we are no better than they are!They are actually better because they actually have health care for all!We need to aspire to be better but the right wing has no interest in doing so.They would prefer to retain to pre Civil War time.

      • d$

        “They are better because they have health care for all” means that you have no idea what you are talking about. “Health Care for all” means “Paid for by only some”. I take it that you are happy to that health care for free. Can I just cut you a check, since I’ll be paying for it anyway?

      • KristenV

        Jason8: “health care for all” – When I visited my friend’s grandmother in England, she was happy to have only 8 months left before her hip surgery. “Free” means you are at the mercy of the system there. I come from a multi-cultural family and relatives in Europe save up their money and come to America for any important medical care. Their “free” care is for routine health checks or issues only, they do not trust major issues to “free” health care policy.

      • Lala

        KristenV, you’re talking crap. And at least your “friend’s grandma” (how convenient that it’s a friend) wouldn’t even be able to afford hip surgery in the US. And Matt, I don’t even know what you mean, please clarify.

    • Mike

      Matt, the rest of the world laughs at us because of our politics, and even despise us, because our power effects them. Fox News is broadcast in Britain, and you can only imagine what that makes them think of us. Luckily, they also get the Daily Show.

      • jason8

        So what d$ money is not everything.Life according to the right is most important….Only if your a Republican or a Blue Dog.We have a for profit system that is not the best in the world.Why we have private companies deciding who lives and who dies.I have insurance with my job my employer happily pays mine but if you want to send money send it to the family’s of the 3 people Jan Brewer in Arizona let die because she thought it better to by a new roof for a sports team rather than pay for a transplant.Just Go to Keiths website at MsNBC to give.I hope you never get sick without insurance.So please take care of your self because only half of America cares and thats not enough.

      • Sophia

        This is a humorous but albeit true view of what Brits think of American media and political news.

      • KristenV

        Again, Jason8: THREE people who’ve died? Not true. Get your facts straight. And the first man, sad as it is, was denied because the transplant surgery was extremely risky with a less than 5% success rate but with a cost of $800,000. Once it hit the news, someone came forward to pay for the surgery, but the man died BEFORE any surgery could be scheduled. May he rest in peace, but he would have died whether he was on the waiting list or not. No health insurance still gets you A LOT of care – admit it, true! – just not risky surgeries. What would YOU DO if you were keeping the books? Overrun by many millions? Who’ll be paying?

  • Matt

    The fact that Sarah Palin’s PAC website had rifle sights over Congresswoman Gifford’s district after she voted yes on healthcare for almost half a year now – and then suddenly it’s taken off the website minutes after news of the shooting was released is a great example of how irresponsible Palin is and where some of this responsibility legitimately lies. Yet she would never admit to any part of that.

    She truly should be ashamed of herself.

    • Tiger

      You’re the getraest! JMHO

  • Sharlin

    I think Keith was right on the money with his comment… and so was the Arizona sheriff’s comments. People on the right, I do see a total denial that their logic and words don’t cause violence.

    • Carrie

      And, in people on the left, I see total denial of personal responsibility. THE GUY was effin’ psycho. Are you going to blame the music he listened to, or the books he read, or movies he watched next? Because they hold as much influence and responsibility on this guy’s actions that the politicians he may have admired do. NONE.

      • Aly

        As I told someone else, Politicians are so quick to blame musicians and filmmakers whenever there is a shooting. They need to take responsibility for their own violent rhetoric. As public servants, their role is to help not hinder positive change and growth.

        The shooter is responsible for their own actions, but we are all responsible for our role in shaping the world around us. Unless someone can honestly say that they have not contributed to shaping a culture and climate of hate and violence, the blood is on their hands as well.

        People should be coming together and offering their condolences for the victims, not fighting or pushing political agendas. Yet the left and the right continue to bicker and perpetuate the toxic environment which does play some role in shaping the individuals who inhabit it.

        Everybody is responsible for their own actions, but we are idiots if we think our words and actions don’t influence those around us.

        Why bother speaking in the first place if we expect our words to bounce harmlessly off those around us without effect?

      • Josh

        I don’t think anyone on the left is saying the guy isn’t guilty and should pay for his crimes. But you can’t ignore the fact that this woman has suffered threats from the tea party loons since Sarah put her on the ‘hit-list’. I’m excited to see her backtrack on this over the next few days, and I look forward at laughing at her excuse. I’ll also enjoy the ignorance from her supporters who would turn on any democrat who did the same thing she did. But since she’s on their side, it’s easy to overlook.

  • tiebaojin

    If Sarah Palin doesn’t know that she contributed in even a small way to this horrific act, she is even dumber than I think she is. One thing that Olbermann said that is totally true is that the media and consequently all clear thinking Americans should do is shun and ignore this woman, and maybe, just maybe she’ll go back into the hole she crawled out of. DO NOT give her a platform to spew out her hatred. As for Beck and O’Reilly, there is no hope at all.

    • Carrie

      He asked us to shun and ignore her WHILE TALKING ABOUT HER. What kind of message does that send? He’d have NO SHOW if he shunned and ignored all the people he hates. He’s a damned hypocrite.

    • @tiebaojin

      Why? You have your platform for spewing your own hatred right here. And you’re using it!

  • John sylvan

    This was a 22yo troubled young individual. To say Sarah Palin or Beck or Olbermann was behind it is ludicrous.For the most part,the congresswoman’s views are pretty much as Palin when it comes to immigration and gun owner rights,being pro Israel and she comes from a very conservative district. The only difference was on HC.I think if SP or the Tea Party was behind this,they would have done it right after the election.

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