• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Michael Moore, Kathy Griffin, Jane Fonda Blame Sarah Palin for Arizona Shooting

While reporters sift through every aspect of the life of accused killer Jared Lee Loughner in search of his motivation for shooting Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head and slaughtering random innocents, including a 9-year-old girl, some in Hollywood have already assigned blame to Fox News, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly.

On Monday, though, they and their supporters began to fight back against the assertions that have come from the likes of Jane Fonda, Michael Moore and others.

Many opponents of the political right seized on Palin's online map that put certain districts in crosshairs indicating that Republicans should target their representatives for defeat in the elections two months ago.

Fonda said on her blog the day of the shooting -- before much was known about Loughner -- that she was "sure" that Giffords was shot by "right wing fanatics who have been repeatedly harassing and threatening Giffords, egged on by Sarah Palin and Glen (sic) Beck and Tea Party members."

She reiterated those sentiments later in several tweets.

"When Palin put crosshairs on a map w/Rep. Giffords & 19 other Dem congressmen/women, she urged followers to 'reload' & 'aim' for Democrats," tweeted Moore, the filmmaker known for his left-wing documentaries.

"This now deleted image from Sarah Palin (sic) website will be reason this terrible shooting has huge political ramifications," CNN's Piers Morgan tweeted, linking to an image of the crosshairs map.

"Congresswoman in AZ, who is ON Sarah Palin's crosshairs map was SHOT in the head 2day. Happy now Sarah?" tweeted actress-comedienne-commentator Kathy Griffin.

On his MSNBC show, Keith Olbermann said Beck and O'Reilly should apologize on air for inspiring the killer and, if they don't, their sponsors should repudiate them and President Obama should consider canceling an interview scheduled on Fox with O'Reilly on Super Bowl Sunday.

Fox News head Roger Ailes chose an unusual venue to defend against the critics who claimed his network's star talent were inciting murder, telling Russell Simmons on the hip-hop mogul's GlobalGrind.com website that "it's just a bullshit way to use the death of a little girl to get Fox News in an argument."

He noted that maps with images of targets on them are often used in politics, including one from the Democrats in 2007 that contained "targets on it for the Palin district." Nevertheless, Ailes said he advised personalities on Fox News to tread lightly.

"I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually," he told Simmons. "You don't have to do it with bombast."

[pagebreak]

One of two press releases issued Monday by Media Matters was a letter to Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox News parent company News Corp., from David Brock, CEO of the liberal watchdog group, asking him to fire Beck and Palin if they don't "stop using violent rhetoric, on and off of Fox's air."

Rush Limbaugh, also mentioned by some media pundits of being worthy of blame, fired back during his radio show Monday, telling listeners that those who oppose conservative media will use the tragedy to try to shut it down.

"They're shutting down any opposition and criminalizing it," he said.

"I am not going to be silenced," Limbaugh added. "They're accusing a majority of Americans of being accomplices to murder."

Beck told his radio audience Monday that he was at the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark when he heard of the shooting, which prompted him to send a security detail to protect his children because he predicted his opponents would try to assign blame to him.

"The media and the politicians have a choice," Beck said Monday, "use this for your own political purposes, or be bigger than that. America demands bigger people."

Right-wing bloggers were also hard at work defending Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Fox News and others from left-wing attacks.

Dozens of them, for example, noted that the accused shooter was described by a former classmate as a "left-wing pothead," and that he embraced some far-left ideas and conspiracies.

"People who hate god, love the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf, and those who support flag burning. Yes, that's the real profile of Jared Lee Loughner. My people do not subscribe to ANY of these things," wrote conservative blogger Brooks Bayne at TheGraph.com.

At BigHollywood.com, a website run by Andrew Breitbart (whom some pundits also blamed for the shooting) editor John Nolte filled the homepage with examples of violent rhetoric from Hollywood that didn't seem to bother the left, like: "Death of a President," a critically acclaimed fictional movie about the assassination of President George W. Bush; comedienne Wanda Sykes hoping that Limbaugh's kidneys fail; Sean Penn speaking positively of President Ronald Reagan suffering from alzheimer's disease; Alec Baldwin advising folks to stone former Republican representative Henry Hyde "to death"; and more.

Nolte also listed some film titles -- Syriana, Lions for Lambs, Fahrenheit 9/11, Redacted and others -- writing that, "With the awesome power of sound and fury in every medium available, the left-wing message of a corrupted, imperialistic, murderous, corrupt, illegitimate American government and military has relentlessly been broadcasted all to the cheers and appreciative backslaps of the water-carrying media. ... If we're going to go down the absurd road of pinning responsibility for real-life violence on political speech and images, let the games being here."