In a brief interview after his gun control press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, Long Island Congressman Peter King weighed in on the big question that has been dominating the blogosphere: How much is the violent rhetoric, of the type used by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, responsible for the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy?
King’s take: The media were too quick to pounce on shooter Jared Loughner’s supposed radical affiliations.
“I think too many elements in the media were too quick to make the connection between the rhetoric and the tragic incident. I mean that was horrible, I think it was wrong to make that quick connection,” he said. “I just think it is inappropriate for anyone to jump in quickly. If we had found left-wing propaganda in this guy’s apartment I think it would have been wrong for Republicans to say the left-wing is shooting people.”
King added that the notion of inflamed rhetoric had become affiliated with the right-wing, although he said both the left and the right were to blame.
“On both sides, whether we are talking about cross-hairs or whether we are talking about Michael Moore saying that Bush was responsible for 9/11, or Democratic congressmen saying Republicans want people to die,” he said. “Maybe in hindsight all of that should be looked at. Democrats did it in 2006, apparently they had targeted districts that were Republican. We had President Obama saying if they bring a knife we are going to bring a gun. So all of that, on reflection, we could tone some of that down. I just wish there was more of a consistent standard on that.”
King said that many Democrats hold Bush responsible for 9/11, and that they have never gotten the kind of media scrutiny that the Tea Party and the like are getting now.
“There was a poll in 2004, maybe 2008, that a majority, or a large percentage, of Democratic primary voters thought President Bush allowed 9/11 to happen. I mean, that’s accusing the President of the United States of mass murder. And I didn’t see very much criticism from the media on that. Certainly no one said anything when President Obama said he was going to use a gun. I think there is a double standard.”
King said that he is still planning on going through with his hearings on “Muslim Radicalization” in America, which he said would be held sometime in mid-to-late February.