Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto questioned the authenticity of a New York Times op-ed authored by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by claiming that the op-ed appeared online too quickly to have been written by someone “who has severe impairments of her motor and speech functions.”
Giffords' April 18 op-ed was written in response to the failure of expanded background checks legislation. On January 8, 2011, Giffords was shot in the head during a constituent meeting in an attack that killed six and left 13 wounded.
Taranto's comments occurred on the April 19 edition of the National Rifle Association's news show, Cam & Company, where he said it was “odd” that the Times op-ed, which Taranto described as “Giffords' personal reaction as somebody who's been wounded by gun violence,” was published approximately five hours after the Senate voted on background checks. Taranto cast doubt on the idea that Giffords had authored the piece, commenting, “So we are supposed to believe that somehow in less than five hours a woman who has severe impairments of her motor and speech functions was able to produce 900 publishable words and put in an appearance in the White House in the course of it.”
From Cam & Company:
TARANTO: One fascinating thing about this is this piece was published no later than 9:03 PM on Wednesday evening, because that's when it first appears on the New York Times' Twitter feed. The last Senate vote on amendments to the gun bill was a bit after 6 [PM]. Giffords appeared at the White House at 5:35 [PM] when we saw that enraged rant by the president. The Manchin-Toomey [background check] provision was the first vote. That was at 4:04 PM. So if you read this piece it's presented as a cry from the heart, as Giffords' personal reaction as somebody who's been wounded by gun violence to the betrayal of these Senators. So we are supposed to believe that somehow in less than five hours a woman who has severe impairments of her motor and speech functions was able to produce 900 publishable words and put in an appearance in the White House in the course of it. So I think that's a little bit odd.
Taranto offers no evidence for his offensive insinuation that Giffords would not have been capable of authoring the piece herself. He also ignores the possibility that Giffords could have authored the op-ed ahead of time in expectation of the widely-predicted outcome - hardly an unusual practice.
Taranto is one of a group of conservatives who offered personal attacks on Giffords for her Times op-ed. In the April 18 column that Taranto appeared on NRA News to discuss, he claimed that Giffords “turned out to be a practitioner of incivility and unreason” in the gun policy debate.
Other attacks on Giffords by conservatives in media include:
- Writing for the National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson criticized Giffords' op-ed by stating, “it should be noted that being shot in the head by a lunatic does not give one any special grace to pronounce upon public-policy questions.” Williamson added that Giffords' op-ed was “childish” and “an embarrassment.”
- Right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds, who writes under the name Instapundit, had a similar reaction to Giffords' frustration with the Senate, advising her to “Try more respect and reason, less emotional bullying next time.”
- In support of Reynold's comments, right-wing blogger Dan Riehl said that Giffords' tactics were “shameful” and “all but anti-American,” and added, “I'm sorry you were a victim Ms. Giffords. But I refuse to be yours by surrendering my rights in the face of your over-emotional and fundamentally illogical pleading which is not only a form of bullying but the worst sort of emotional blackmail, as well.”