USA Today is trumpeting its new survey on whether blood-libel victim Sarah Palin and her ilk are “to blame” for nutcase Jared Loughner’s killing spree. The story is headlined “Poll: Conservatives not to blame for Ariz. shooting,” but there’s a slight problem. That’s not what the poll says.
The lame-ass story says, “Most Americans reject the idea that inflammatory political language by conservatives should be part of the debate” over the Arizona shootings.
Wrong — according to the paper’s own story. Here’s why.
As evidence, the paper’s Susan Page writes, “A 53% majority of those surveyed call that analysis mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. About a third, 35%, say it is a legitimate point about how dangerous language can be.”
Only later in the story do we learn that the poll’s margin of error is 4 percentage points. Which means that the 53 percent is actually somewhere between 49 and 57 percent. Which means it’s too close to call. Which means the headline and lede of the story aren’t justified.
In any case, all of this is diversion. The real question is why Loughner was considered too mentally unstable to take classes at a community college but perfectly okay to buy a Glock and conceal it on his very unstable and bad self. See the Wall Street Journal‘s “Why Was Jared Loughner Allowed to Buy a Gun?”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2011