When in doubt, blame the press.
Republicans in Congress and the White House have been attacking the media all year, but one House member just tried to pin the blame for a mass shooting on the fourth estate.
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) told Fox News Wednesday afternoon that “the media is complicit” in acts of violence like the mass shooting targeting members of Congress “if they keep inciting, as opposed to informing.”
Bergman explained that he was at the Republican Congressional Baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning when the shooting that injured five people including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) occurred.
Fox News anchor Melissa Francis then played a clip from Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) who said some of his best friends are Democrats and that the House passes a lot of bipartisan legislation, “but it’s the major issues that lead to political discourse that has in my opinion, led to such an uptick in just hateful, hateful rhetoric of all sides, and I stand here today and say stop. We have to stop.”
Francis asked Bergman if he agreed with Davis, and if “the hateful rhetoric has gotten just too hot?”
BERGMAN: I agree with Rodney wholeheartedly in that the hateful rhetoric serves no positive purpose. In fact, today it served a negative purpose. But unfortunately, and I’m looking at all the media in the eye when I say this: friendships and cordial relationships don’t make good news. So I can tell you, especially as the president of the freshman class of Republicans, we are united along with our Democratic freshman counterparts to bring civility back to the 115th Congress.
FRANCIS: So you think it’s the media’s fault?
BERGMAN: I think the media is complicit if they keep inciting, as opposed to informing.
Francis called that “great advice for us and that’s great advice for all of you, sir” and closed the interview.
Bergman was attempting to pin the blame for the shooting on the media without offering much proof. The media, as a group, has been abused and demonized by Bergman’s party.
Greg Gianforte, who will still join Bergman’s caucus despite the fact he pled guilty to physically assaulting a journalist the day before, is the latest and most direct example of politicians attacking the media for doing their jobs. Many Republican House members responded with jokes when asked about the Gianforte assault.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) joked about shooting reporters at a gun range last month. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) traced the violence that happened on Wednesday in another Fox News interview to “political rhetorical terrorism.”
Before and after becoming president, Donald Trump has used rallies to deliver brutal attacks on the media. He has baselessly accused the media of purposely covering up extremism attacks it didn’t want people to know about. He’s attacked them as his “opposition party,” and at rallies, directed the overflowing rage of his supporters at the media pen, causing some journalists to get direct threats. Trump’s Twitter attacks targeting journalists like Megyn Kelly and Katie Tur resulted in death threats. He defended his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, when he was arrested for simple battery of a Breitbart reporter. The NRA, of all groups, has recently mimicked Trump’s rhetoric, telling members its job is to give “the media the big fat black eye it so often richly deserves.”
It’s convenient to blame the media for anything that goes wrong, but not very productive. To look at the root causes of the Virginia mass shooting, like many mass shootings, it may actually be more informative to look at factors like domestic violence.
Congressman suggests media is ‘complicit’ in Virginia shooting was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.