Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whittington: Giffords Special Ruined by Gratuitous Attack on Sarah Palin

"ABC News and Sawyer committed journalistic malpractice..."
Mark Whittington observes that Diane Sawyer's "20 20" special on ABC News about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was "for the most part - heart-warming and inspirational." About that "other part," however:
The documentary, which also contained the first public interview with Giffords since the shooting, was ruined by a gratuitous attack on tea party opponents of health care reform and on Sarah Palin toward the end of the one-hour special. A short segment showed Giffords confronting an angry crowd of constituents at a town hall meeting. Palin was shown briefly, as was the infamous cross hairs map.

The segment was shown without context or detail. As Giffords is deservedly a national heroine because of how far she has recovered, the segment gave the clear impression of tea partiers as an angry mob and Sarah Palin as the cause of the shooting.

ABC News and Sawyer committed journalistic malpractice by dredging up the old accusations without also showing evidence that debunked them. Palin and her map had nothing to do with Giffords' shooting, as was implied in the segment. Jared Loughner, Giffords' assailant, was an insane man who likely never heard of Palin and certainly was unaware of the cross hairs map. Yet ABC chose not to mention this.

It must really burn Sawyer and ABC News that Gov. Palin isn't running for president so they could use this special to try to kneecap her erstwhile campaign.

- JP

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