There was a time, I seem to recall, when no one attempted to tie mass murder by random sickos to politics. For example, I don’t remember anyone wondering about the politics of Richard Speck, the killer of Chicago student nurses, or Charles Whitman, the University of Texas shooter.
I don’t know when the turning point occurred. Perhaps it was the Oklahoma City bombing. In any event, the bounce Bill Clinton received following that event meant that, from then on, random killing sprees would always be viewed as candidates for political use.
Today, we saw this sad trend reach new heights when Brian Ross of ABC News attempted to tie the killings in Colorado to the Tea Party, incorrectly identifying the killer and then calling out this “wrong man” as a Tea Party activist. It’s difficult to believe that Ross made this error in good faith, considering his apparent unwillingness, and that of his network, to recognize that the name of the killer, James Holmes, is quite common. In any case, the error would not have occurred had Ross not correctly perceived that there exists a mass audience hoping to be informed that the murderer was connected to the Tea Party. Absent such an audience, the story would have been duly fact checked.
I’d say the media mindset described above goes back much further than 1995.
Update: The Anchoress on the “Aurora Slaughter and the Enthralled Tribes of America.”