As Rush would say, the media “coverage” of the Tucson attack gives us a learning opportunity. One of the wise sayings I preached to our kids is “there is no reward for being wrong first.” Would that the media believed that. But no. We’ve been told that Rep Giffords was dead (NOT), that her attacker was an Afghan vet (NOT), that he was a Tea Party sympathizer (NOT) and that he was a leftist (but he likes Mein Kampf–as well as the Communist Manifesto).
A lot of these errors–and the haste that provoked them–are politically motivated, but, as Maimon Schwartzchild notes, they are part of a pattern that includes some (formerly) serious (liberal) scholars. He doesn’t have an explanation for it, but I do. The political anger comes from people who can’t win an honest debate, and whose view of the world is demonstrably false. If they want to throw their intellectual weight around, the easy way is to attack their opponents in a very personal and nasty way (the hard way is to rethink their view of the world).
Then there’s the case of pundits like Howard Fineman, who announces that the Arizona shootings will produce a big change in American politics, because the politicians will henceforth be afraid to appear in public. This seems unlikely to me, although I’ve been hearing it ever since the assassination of John F. Kennedy forty-eight years ago.
Yes, I know that the news market demands speed, and that the pundits feel they have to say something about everything. But it’s still better to take your time, get the facts right, and recognize that you really don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Life is full of surprises, and we live in a very surprising time.
UPDATE: Thanks to topsy.com for the link