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Tucson tragedy preview into 2012 media coverage?

The mainstream media sunk to new lows in its collective coverage of the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting tragedy.

Selective media members may start backpedaling on their outrageous claims that a heady mix of talk radio and that rootin' tootin' Sarah Palin were to blame for the tragedy. That doesn't dismiss their dereliction of duty.

The media's ghastly performance may also be a window into how it will cover the 2012 presidential elections. Any attempt at criticizing President Barack Obama may be labeled "hate speech." Any violence that breaks out during the campaign cycle, no matter the cause, target or provocation, may be labeled Tea Party-approved behavior. Who needs facts?

It's too soon to say exactly how the media will misbehave over the next two years. One thing is clear -- outlets from MSNBC to The New York Times and CNN are capable of just about anything to smear the Right. The Tucson coverage confirms it.

The 2008 "Slobbering Love Affair" coverage might seem quaint by comparison.