For the New York Times' editorial board, a shooting incident this week provided the perfect opportunity to trot out the lie that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin inspired the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz.
A deranged gunman opened fire Wednesday morning on GOP lawmakers in Alexandria, Va., as they practiced for the congressional baseball game, leaving Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and lobbyist Matt Mika in critical condition.
The alleged shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, appears to have held a deep hatred for Republicans, especially President Trump, and reportedly admired progressive politicians and pundits.
The Times editorial board apparently saw this as an opportunity to dust off an anti-right-wing oldie:
Hodgkinson … was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics. Mr. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer virulently opposed to President Trump. He posted many anti-Trump messages on social media, including one in March that said "Time to Destroy Trump & Co."
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. 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.
Amazingly enough, the editorial, titled "America's Lethal Politics," doesn't let it go at that:
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.
That bit about Palin inciting the Giffords shooting is a vicious, baseless lie.
There is no proof that the Tucson shooting was inspired by the crosshairs map. There's no evidence Loughner ever saw the map or even followed Palin. The shooter reportedly didn't watch television, he didn't read the news and he didn't listen to talk radio.
"He didn't take sides. He wasn't on the Left. He wasn't on the Right," said Loughner's high school friend Zach Osle.
Lastly, Loughner's obsession with Giffords dates back to at least 2007, before Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced Palin to the nation as his vice presidential nominee.
By blaming Palin for the Tucson shooting, the Times' editorial board joins the likes of columnists Paul Krugman and Dana Milbank, whose immediate reactions in 2011 were to blame Palin.
The difference here, however, is that Krugman and Milbank didn't have a lot of information to work with at the time they blamed the former governor for the slaughter.
The Times has had six years to get its facts straight. What's its excuse?