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About That Warp-speed News Cycle

I took a lot of grief in the comments section (and from a colleague) over this post I wrote yesterday, complaining about how quickly the news of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum had led Greg Sargent to bring up the DHS's report on right-wing extremism and demand mea culpas from all the conservatives who criticized it. In fairness to Sargent, he was hardly the only person to make this point; he was just the first person I read. But I could have made a similar complaint about everyone from Shep Smith to Matt Yglesias. Anyway, since this was such a common response to the shootings, I thought it might be worth elaborating on why I find it so annoying.

The murder of Stephen Tyrone Johns by James Von Brunn was a political act. That said, I think it's premature to start making political arguments about the shooting a mere two hours after it occurs--especially if the arguments are being directed at people who didn't have anything to do with the shooting. I'm as sick of Michelle Bachman and Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin as anyone, but, frankly, I have a hard time seeing how their (stupid and misguided and unfair) criticisms of the DHS report led or even contributed to Johns's shooting. And, unless it's discovered that those criticisms did play a role (by, say, prompting the DHS or the FBI or some other law-enforcement agency to stop monitoring Von Brunn because it feared political criticism for doing so), then I don't think it's worth bringing these people up--at least not almost immediately after someone is shot. I mean, a white supremacist nutjob walks into the Holocaust Museum, guns down a security guard, and people's immediate response is to think about what some idiot said on a mindless Fox News show two months ago?! I just thought a little more time should have passed before something this terrible got turned into yet another, frivolous cable debate segment.

--Jason Zengerle