Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jared Loughner and the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

The Media Circus

Meanwhile, political commentators were having a field day.

The Giffords shooting was quickly incorporated into existing narratives—with liberal and right wing media mouthpieces both shouting into their microphones about the need for civil, rational discussion, while doing exactly the opposite by linking the shooting, in the absence of any evidence, to political personalities other than the victims.

Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann, the left's mouthpiece on MSNBC (who left the channel shortly thereafter), said of Palin and the right's rhetoric: "It is essential tonight not to demand revenge, but to demand justice; to insist not upon payback against those politicians and commentators who have so irresponsibly brought us to this time of domestic terrorism, but to work to change the minds of them and their supporters. If Sarah Palin, whose website put —and today scrubbed— bullseye targets on 20 Representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics."

On the right, right-wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves on his show, and said: "I find it fascinating that the media and many in the Democrat Party want to blame people that don't know this kid, that the kid never knew, the kid never heard of, the kid was never exposed to. They want to try to blame people genuinely who are ancillary, who are irrelevant to this for what the kid did, for pure, political reasons. And there are political reasons for this." He continued: "Their first objective and their first priority was to try to make an association between this nut and Sarah Palin."

Barbara Walters wouldn't join the fray of blaming Palin. "To blame Sarah Palin as some are doing, I think, is very unfair to her," said Walters on her talkshow, The View.

The rhetoric got so heated, that even the President had something to say about it.


On January 12, President Obama visited Tucson and gave a speech at the McKale Memorial Center at the University of Tucson. It was an emotional speech, more so than the State of the Union address he gave less than a week later. During the speech, the President addressed the fiery political rhetoric that continued to dominate the political spectrum:

President Barac Obama
President Barac Obama

"You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations —to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. ...But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized —at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do— it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

And at the State of the Union, the shooting was on the mind of everyone present. Giffords' seat remained empty, and many lawmakers wore black and white ribbons to mourn the shooting. The guests of First Lady Michelle Obama were people affected directly by the shooting and included the parents of Christina Taylor Green, as well as her brother; the University Medical Center's chief of trauma, Peter Rhee; and Daniel Hernandez, an intern at Giffords' office, who was credited with saving her life by minimizing her loss of blood.

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