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January 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With few facts available to them, political pundits on both the right and left continued to speculate on Monday about whether Jared Lee Loughner was inflamed by political rhetoric to carry out his shooting spree in Tucson on Saturday that left a federal judge and five others dead and 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, seriously wounded.

Jared Lee Loughner

Indeed, on cable news networks and syndicated radio talk shows, “speculation often overwhelmed real reporting,” Los Angeles Times media columnist Joe Flint observed today (Tuesday). Inevitably, the news media found themselves under attack for broadcasting vitriolic speech that might — might — have set off Loughner. NBC News chief Steve Capus, in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, pointed out that “nobody knows quite what motivated [Loughner], but he, too noted that the attack came “at a time of a highly charged, and in some cases toxic, political environment.” And Fox News chief Roger Ailes, whose news channel was particularly singled out by liberals for using inciteful language, told the website that he had “told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.” But on his radio talk show, WOR host Steve Malzberg seemed to be responding to Ailes when he said on Monday, “Now we all have to tone it down? For what? That’s going to guarantee no other nut job is going to come forward?”