Rather than take the time to reflect on the state of today's disturbingly overheated political environment, where government leaders are demonized and degraded, via smears and lies, on an hourly basis within the far-flung confines of the conservative media landscape, and where the President of the United States is alternately attacked as a racist/Nazi/communist/tyrant, the conservative movement this week has opted to close ranks, deny there's any kind of problem, and attack those who raise valid questions.
It appears the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the handgun massacre that accompanied it, will be yet another critical chance for reflection that the right-wing media will let slip by. (Here was an earlier missed chance.)
Sadly, in recent days there have been just handful of lonely voices within the conservative community who have suggested the killing spree in Tucson offered a chance to rethink, or at least address, the type of political rhetoric that has been mainstreamed by Fox News and friends over the last two years.
Among the lone voices of reason was former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, here tweeting a message to the conservative blogger known as AllahPundit:
.@allahpundit You don't see in this terrible crime ANY call to reflection on the extreme rhetoric of the past 2 years?
But overwhelmingly, the right-wing response has been denial and attack. To deny there's anything wrong with the hateful, anti-government attacks that now flow from the community on an hourly basis. And to attack anyone who even considers the possibility that that torrent of invective has created a toxic, and possibly violent, political climate in this country.
I can't say I'm surprised.
We've seen this kind of blanket denial before, like when abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church by a right-wing nut. The hit came after Fox News' Bill O'Reilly relentlessly attacked Tiller on-air as a "baby killer." What was the right-wing media's response to the act of cowardly vigilantism? Did they take a step back and question the implication of O'Reilly's incendiary rhetoric and his relentless, public attacks? They did not. Instead, they spun like crazy, insisting, unconvincingly, that O'Reilly was blameless and that when he was calling Tiller a “baby killer,” all he was doing was engaging in lively debate.
Observing the GOP Noise Machine since Obama's inauguration, it's obvious there's nobody in charge; that there's no adult supervision. It's a media community that appears to be immune to introspection, let alone acknowledging grave miscues. It's also clear that senior Republican members of Congress are too frightened to disagree with high-profile conservative pundits.
So if the media movement itself isn't going to ask uncomfortable questions, and conservatives outside the media sphere are afraid to do it, we're left with something akin to a runaway train.
And this week, that runaway train is careening off the tracks.