On June 16, the day after a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders shot and wounded Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise in Virginia, the New York Times published an opinion piece that sought to compare the incident to the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in January 2011. The newspaper falsely suggested that man who shot Giffords was inspired by an ad that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee distributed that put a target on Giffords' district and other congressional districts.
On Fox News, a reporter posed to Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer that the NYT op-ed was “embarrassing” in that there remain those who push a “false narrative, years later, just 24 hours after a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to assassinate members of Congress. Contributor Charles Krauthammer said of the article that it was “completely egregious.” He went on to say, “It’s not just that it was debunked six years later, it was debunked within three days.” The Times later issued a short correction to the article.
Krauthammer, a psychiatrist, recalled that he wrote a column just four days after Giffords’ shooting in 2011 that the evidence was “absolutely clear, totally obvious that the shooter was a paranoid schizophrenic. He had no idea of what was going on. There were no ideas in his head. One of his teachers had said that he was ‘living in his own world.’”
Krauthammer also pointed out that just days after Giffords’ shooting, the New York Times published a news analysis that introduced this false idea that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was motivated by this thing on the website that showed the bull’s eyes for 20 districts.”
He added, “Jared Loughner was not driven by a climate of hate. Because everyone who knew him and who testified at time was saying ‘This man created his own climate. He was a classic paranoid schizophrenic. That the Times should drag this out, six years later, is amazing. Even the correction was mealy-mouthed and half-hearted. No connection was proved. No connection was possible. The man was a paranoid psychotic.”