By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Times lets Palin aide lie about gunsight map

The New York Times today fails to call a Sarah Palin spokeswoman on what has all the appearances of a flat-out lie.

In a story on the political fallout of the weekend carnage in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people and left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely injured, Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg tell us that Palin adviser Rebecca Mansour denied that those were gunsights on Palin’s infamous map identifying House Democrats she had targeted for defeat. Zeleny and Rutenberg write of Mansour’s appearance on a conservative radio talk show:

Ms. Mansour said that the cross hairs, in fact, were not meant to be an allusion to guns, and agreed with her interviewer’s reference to them as “surveyors symbols.” Aides to Ms. Palin did not respond to interview requests on Sunday.

Yet we already knew otherwise on Sunday, as a Talking Points Memo reader dug up a tweet purportedly written by Palin herself referring to the map symbols in explicitly gun-oriented terms. Palin or her designated tweeter wrote:

Remember months ago “bullseye” icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)

And let’s not forget that those symbols turned red whenever one of the targeted Democrats went down — just like surveyors symbols, eh?

Few people are blaming Palin for the actions of Jared Lee Loughner, who has been charged with the Saturday shootings. Loughner appears to have been motivated by mental illness rather than politics. Still, Palin’s map was mind-blowingly irresponsible, as Giffords herself said some months ago. This should mark the end of Palin’s public career as anything other than a sideshow freak, much as Ann Coulter all but disappeared after she mocked 9/11 widows. Are the media really going to let Palin and her minions get away with this?

Traditional journalism is incredibly uncomfortable when given proof that someone is flat-out lying. But that’s no excuse for the Times’ ignoring the fact that there was already proof Mansour was lying — or, at best, was incredibly uninformed about her boss’ intentions.

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Murder, politics and mental illness


Talking about the Tucson shootings


  1. Sean Roche

    Why was the Times relying on the words of a Palin spokeswoman and not Palin herself? Not newsworthy to ask Palin about the incredible coincidence? Palin not available? (If so, her unavailability should have been noted.)

  2. Sean Roche

    Has there been a story with Palin’s comments on the targets (in the Times or elsewhere)?

  3. Michael Pahre

    Here is a link to the original tweet by SarahPalinUSA. I don’t know why TPM wouldn’t provide a link to it in their post.

    BTW: these are easy to find. Just google search on: “ bullseye”.

  4. Palin’s bullseye markings, along with Sharon Angle’s campaign reference to voters’ “2nd Amendment” recourse if their candidates lost, are wildly irresponsible and reflect the depraved state of public discourse in our society today. Along with the inflammatory rhetoric by Fox News commentators almost daily, a volatile atmosphere has been created. Angle, Palin & Fox are not legally responsible, but should have trouble sleeping soundly at night.

  5. Traditional journalism is incredibly uncomfortable when given proof that someone is flat-out lying.

    Traditional journalism should try to get comfortable with that. I don’t think flat-out lying is going away anytime soon.

  6. Stephen Stein

    Far be it from me to defend Sarah Palin, but I think her “targeted for defeat” rhetoric was a lot tamer than Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedy” or Joyce Kaufman’s “if ballots don’t work, bullets will”.

    But yes, I do think this incident will dim Palin’s star, at least for a while, and I’m sure many Republicans will rejoice at that. As a Democrat, I loved the attention Palin was getting (even though there’s an element of “be careful what you wish for” involved).

  7. Mike Benedict

    Sarah Palin is a *gasp* liar?!?

    Who knew?

  8. C.E. Stead

    Is it just me, or is there a whole lot of estrogen in this argument?

    The victim was a woman, and the only popel being quoted are conservative WOMEN. There are equally incindiary men out there – some of the LaRouche followers come to mind. Hannity and Beck use similar ‘war room’ rhetoric.

    Women in politics have to put up with a lot of crap. Hillary nutcracker, Pelosi facelift, Palin being called a ‘slutty stewardess’, etc. Even locally, Kerry Healey and Jennifer Nassour have had incredible sex-based attacks made on their political positions (they support abortion because they have promiscuious daughters, for example). In fact, I’d be curious to know if the gender of the Congresswoman played a role in her selection, given that there are FAR more men than women in Congress overall.

    This isn’t a critcism of DK or the commenters here – you are reflecting the media at large. Only the woman opponents of the woman victim are being blamed.

  9. ben starr

    I’m not sure that “few people are blaming Palin” was accurate in the 24 hours after the event based on my Twitter feed and Facebook status updates.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Ben: I don’t blame Palin, but I think she needs to be held accountable for her extremist rhetoric. It’s a fine line.

  10. Mike Rice

    Ah yes, death by surveyor stake. Liars.

    I think the Palin brand is in the process of going down like the Hindenburg – guilt by association.

  11. Heather Greene

    Sorta of weird that we’ve seen this headline before

    What is up with USA when shooting rampages (not public service records or policy positions) are what are damaging the potential Republican nominees for President.

    Also to Ann Coulter. I see her like Tom Green or the guys from MTV’s Jackass. They are about shock, but eventually shock wears off. Also the remark that really was a turning point for her I think was she wanted Jews “to be perfected.” It wasn’t something she wrote about but just said off the cuff in an interview and then never brought it up again. She defended her “Jersey 4” 9/11 widows remark to the hill, but not the “perfect the Jews” one.
    Even FNC didn’t back her on that one.,2933,301216,00.html
    Although it did give us this song that maybe Dan Kennedy has seen before but in case he hasn’t

  12. Heather Greene

    Do you remember this quote from Michelle Obama about Sarah
    Palin: “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Also not loving this false equivalency between
    the far left and the far right. Last I checked, the Lyndon LaRouche
    wing of the Democratic didn’t have its own caucus in the House of
    Representatives. The names I hear are Joe Manchin, Alan Grayson and Joe Manchin for that commericial where he shoot the
    Cap-n-Trade Bill. Somehow I don’t think he was tyring to appeal to
    the left with that commericial, but the right? Yet David Gregory
    used Joe Manchin as an example of “the left” demonizing the other
    side. The second is Alan Greyson, a one-term congressman from
    Orlando. Alan Greyson was a hero of the cable news bookers rather
    then liberal activists (his voting record isn’t that liberal for
    all his loudmouth rhetoric). Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Sharron
    Angle are real hero with real supporters. Alan Greyson lost
    re-election and I’ve yet to see one candidate invite him to stump
    for him or her. Also note that his “Die Quickly” stuff came after
    MONTHS of Republicans telling us Democrats and especially wanted to
    kill the elder, the unborn, veterans, white people, etc… and that Bush is a Nazi ad that never really existed.
    Before re-hashing all, it’s been nearly 8 YEARS since that
    happened. How can you argue that is responsible for the present-day
    political climate? 8 YEARS! Alex Parene of explains that
    this “both sides are awful and cancel each other out” stuff just
    pushes the fringes harder since they know that they can get away
    with since nobody will call them out but more of a “pox on both
    your houses” stuff.

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