Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (right) battles for her life following a shooting spree over the weekend in Arizona that killed six people. The suspect, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was charged with five criminal counts, including an attempt to assassinate.
At a press conference Saturday, the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said certain talk show hosts should be held accountable.
“…The vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in the country is getting to be outrageous.”
Dupnik went on to say that Arizona has “become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
WOR afternoon talk show host Steve Malzberg thought it was inappropriate for the sheriff to make those comments.
“You want to go on TV when a law is passed, as a sheriff and say you disagree with the law, I don’t begrudge him that,” Malzberg says. “That tipped us to where he is politically. Then to exploit the situation, after hours such a shooting and say what he said—I think he should step down. I think that crossed the line.”
Malzberg says this isn’t the first time Dupnik, a veteran of local law enforcement for over 50 years, has played the politics card.
“Several months ago [Dupnik] went on MSNBC and called the Arizona immigration law ‘stupid’ and ‘bigoted.’ That’s who the sheriff is. He obviously has a political agenda. So it’s no surprise whatsoever. He’s probably a big leftist and he’s ashamed of his state.”
Malzberg, a controversial right wing talker, made it crystal clear; he is not in agreement with anything the sheriff says regarding vitriol.
“It’s ridiculous,” Malzberg says. “If anything he’s aiming it at the right. If anything, there’s more hatred and vitriol on the left. You never hear talk show hosts on the right—name me the talk show hosts— that talk about killing people or I’d like to see this one die.”
Malzberg (left) says he’ll regularly play sound bites of those on the left that are doing more harm than good.
“I don’t want to name people, but radio talk show hosts and Joy Behars of the world on the left that are … the ones full of hate, the name callers.”
The veteran talk show also cited the left’s obsession with George W. Bush.
“Look what they did to him,” Malzberg says. “They protested all the time with signs that had bull’s-eye on his head [saying] ‘Kill Him,’…This is all the left.”
Back to the right, though, where the media began to question former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s methods as a rabble-rouser with her base.
On her website last March, she targeted several Congressmen and –women that faced tough re-elections in November because they voted for health care reform.
One of those is Representative Giffords. The site features rifle sights placed over each district in question, with their names below.
Giffords told MSNBC last year that “when people do that they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”
However, Malzberg defends Palin’s website.
“Crosshairs and targeting districts and targeting candidates, that’s accepted discourse. …That’s nonsense to say that that’s violent rhetoric….Palin put something on her website 10 months ago. Some nut, who was turned down by the military, whose favorite authors were Karl Marx and Hitler…who hated this country…all of a sudden he’s a Sarah Palin supporter. The whole thing is nuts.”
(Following the shooting, though, that map was removed from Palin’s page.)
With that in mind, Malzberg believes this an isolated incident.
“Look at his Facebook postings [since have been blocked]. …This guy was totally out of his mind. We’re fortunate that this doesn’t happen more often.”
Malzberg says he won’t ease up on his on-air style.
“Now we all have to tone it down, for what? That’s going to guarantee no other nut job is going to come forward?”
Minutes after the first reports broke on Saturday, Malzberg told his 11-year-son that within five minutes talk show hosts would be blamed.
“You don’t have to be a genius to know what was going to happen,” Malzberg says.
(See Malzberg’s appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources below)