Blaming Conservative Media for Killings, Take Three

Yet another Times columnist, Frank Rich, goes after conservative media for poisoning the political dialogue and setting the stage for the murders of abortionist George Tiller and a guard at the Holocaust Museum.

Drama critic turned liberal columnist Frank Rich's usual oversized Sunday column, "The Obama Haters' Silent Enablers, plowed over the same ground as his fellow columnists Paul Krugman and Judith Warner did on Friday, using the murders of abortionist George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic and a Holocaust Museum security guard by a neo-Nazi to advance the argument that right-wing rhetoric is reaching toxic levels, and fingering specific conservatives people and outlets for blame.

Besides adding to the left's heaping "Blame Bill O'Reilly" pile (the Fox News host's verbal assaults on abortionist George Tiller before he was murdered), Rich dug around liberal websites for some fresh anecdotes and found at least one dubious example that was somehow symbolic of dangerous anti-Obama hate: a National Review cover mocking Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The NR cover's connection to terrorism wasn't explicated.

(Revealingly, the links in Rich's column go predominantly to two liberal sources for the anecdotes: Think Progress and Talking Points Memo, the latter especially known as a must-read among mainstream journalists.)

Like Krugman and Warner before him, Rich the original thinker cited the discredited, veteran-smearing Department of Homeland Security report as "tragically, prescient."

It's typical of this dereliction of responsibility that when the Department of Homeland Security released a plausible (and, tragically, prescient)report about far-right domestic terrorismtwo months ago, the conservative response was to trash it as "the height of insult,"in the words of the G.O.P. chairman Michael Steele. But as Smith also said last week, Homeland Security was "warning us for a reason."

No matter. Last week it was business as usual, as Republican leaders nattered ad infinitum over the juvenile rivalry of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrichat the party's big Washington fund-raiser. Few if any mentioned, let alone questioned, the ominous script delivered by the actor Jon Voight with the G.O.P. imprimatur at that same event. Voight's devout wish was to "bring an end to this false prophet Obama."

This kind of rhetoric, with its pseudo-Scriptural call to action, is toxic. It is getting louder each day of the Obama presidency. No one, not even Fox News viewers, can say they weren't warned.