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New York Times, heal thyself

The New York Times' editorial board dusted off a 6-year-old lie blaming former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for inspiring Jared Loughner's Tucson, Ariz., shooting. No such link has been established. We can elevate political discourse by ending the slander of the Right. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The politically motivated assassination attempt of a Republican congressman this week is further proof that we need to improve our "lethal politics," the New York Times declared in an editorial.

The Gray Lady and others could make a start by ending their slander of conservatives. But The Times has no such instinct or apparent intention. Instead it dusted off a 6-year-old lie alleging former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin incited a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., which left six people dead and more than a dozen wounded, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

The paper's editorial board wrote that "the link to political incitement was clear." This is a lie. No clear link was established with Palin, and the Tucson shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was reportedly apolitical. His obsession with Giffords started before Palin became nationally known in 2008.

In contrast to this, the man who opened fire Wednesday morning on GOP lawmakers, leaving Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and lobbyist Matt Mika in critical condition, appears to have held a deep hatred for Republicans, especially President Trump. The gunman, an Illinois resident named James T. Hodgkinson, reportedly admired progressive politicians and pundits.

The Times eventually issued a correction to its editorial, but it had had six years to get its facts straight and hadn't bothered, so one can be forgiven for skepticism when it pontificates about lethal politics.

It isn't a novice when it comes to slandering the Right, especially in the wake of mass shooting events.

When a 29-year-old security guard named Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 revelers at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the Times' editorial board blamed the GOP's opposition to same-sex marriage.

"While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don't happen in a vacuum," they wrote.

The board added, "They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish."

Remove the words "Republican politicians" and replace them with "left-wing journalists," and the line would be truer.

The editorial made no mention of the fact that Mateen swore his allegiance to the Islamic State, a terrorist group that has murdered thousands of people all across the Middle East. The editorial also omitted the fact that Mateen's father, Seddique Mir Mateen, is a known Taliban sympathizer who is also on record saying God punishes gays.

When it comes to the casual demeaning and denouncing of conservatives, the Times isn't alone. An infamous Washington Post report once referred to Evangelical Christians as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command."

Lesser players in media have also participated in the game of defaming conservatives. Yahoo's Katie Couric was caught editing a documentary to portray a Virginia-based gun club as a bunch of simpletons. She wasn't disciplined for this and indeed reappeared on NBC to guest host. CBS analyst and Slate political editor Jamelle Bouie wrote in 2016, "There's no such thing as a good Trump voter."

There are the countless examples of the press blaming supposed hate crimes on conservatives, only to have it revealed later that the story was part of an elaborate hoax to raise awareness or some such thing.

The Times isn't wrong in its core suggestion that it is time to elevate our nation's political discourse, starting at the top at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But if the Times is serious about this, it can do its part by not treating conservatives with a disdain that, being reflexive, shows that its writers and editors do not, on this subject, either know or care what they are talking about.