When the New York Times decided to gratuitously accuse Sarah Palin of inciting the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the murder of a Republican judge by a mentally ill man, it was a red line. Palin sued.
And as the case builds, we now know who was responsible for the smear.
New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet testified Wednesday in an open hearing that he did not mean to imply a "causal link" between a political action committee tied to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and a 2011 attack on a then-congresswoman and others.
"What I wasn't trying to say was that there was a direct causal link between this map and the shooting," Bennet said.
Except that's exactly what the editorial said.
In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.
Which part of "clear" did Bennet not understand?
He suggested that a rush to hit the newspaper's deadlines might have contributed in part to the editorial being published before the topic of political incitement and actual violence had been thoroughly researched.
The research in question would have taken roughly 5 minutes. If any research were needed. Bennet's excuse is the equivalent of claiming that space aliens walk among us and then blaming the deadline for not having enough time to research and find out that UFOs are a myth.
The Palin claim had been thoroughly discredited by a lack of evidence. You can't prove a negative. There was never anything to "research".
But the interesting angle here is Bennet, who is the brother of a Colorado senator, and the son of a key Democrat figure, and well known to pro-Israel activists for all the wrong reasons.
“I was looking for a very strong word about our political climate to get readers’ attention,” Bennet said. Incitement, he added, was a word that harkened to his days on the Israel-Palestinian conflict beat, conjuring notions of “summonses and orders for political attacks.”
Incitement in Israel is a very loaded word. And often abused by the left.
But Bennet is better known to pro-Israel activists for his infamous terrorism denial memo.
The memo said he settled on a rough rule: He would use the words, when they fit, to describe attacks within Israel’s 1948 borders but not in the occupied West Bank or Gaza, which Israel and the Palestinians have been contending over since Israel took them in 1967. When a gunman infiltrated a settlement and killed a 5-year-old girl in her bed, Bennet did not call it terrorism
The sheer evil of this almost defies description.
Now the terrorism denier who wouldn't tell the truth about Islamic terrorism is in trouble for his false accusation of terrorism.