'Climate of Hate' to Blame for Ariz Shooting?

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Investigators are still trying to find the motive behind Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and others in Tucson.  Liberals quickly blamed conservatives for creating the climate that led to the attack and that has sparked a fiery debate about political rhetoric.

Tucson has come together to rally around the victims of the shooting spree and its primary target, who authoritites say was Giffords.

"Every day that goes by and we don't see an increase, we're slightly more optimistic," said Dr. Michael Lemole of University Medical Center.
    
Yet, there is a growing divide when it comes to answering why and how the attack began.

While President Barack Obama has heralded a theme of unity, some liberals have been pushing blame on conservatives -- attacking everyone from Sarah Palin, to the Tea Party, and Fox News.

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, talked more about the ensuing 'rush to judgment' on the Arizona shooting on The 700 Club, Jan. 11. Click play to watch the interview following John Jessup's report.

"Right now, the main thing we're doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who've been impacted, making sure that we're joining together and pulling together as a country," Obama said.

Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, where the shooting took place, has been one of the most vocal critics.

"I think that when the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates and to try and inflame the public on a daily basis, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with," Dupnik said.
 
In an interview on ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer Monday, he was asked about the fairness of the accusation.

"Is it right to link it to this horrible incident?" Sawyer asked.

"That's my opinion.  People can have their own opinions," Dupnik answered. "The listeners, the viewers can judge from themselves."
    
Conservatives said this is an example of political opportunism.

"What this was all about is shutting down any and all political opposition and eventually criminalizing it," said conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Liberals from the news media to bloggers and others have all raised questions about "the climate of hate" in America.

And they've noted the difference in how the media have covered this story when compared to their urging caution not to jump to conclusions about Islam and Muslims after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.  Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man charged with that crime, was a Muslim army psychiatrist.
    
However, critics said many on the left didn't wait for facts before launching into the "blame game" against conservatives, the Tea Party and Republicans, trying to pin the blame on them for the terrible tragedy.

The emerging picture of the man charged with the shooting in Tucson is that he was troubled.  He has been described as a social outcast and possibly obsessed with Giffords.  Some wondered if he was involved in the occult, after a skull and candles was found in his garden.  An acquaintance described him as a liberal, but he was registered as an independent.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.