Andrea Mitchell Fears Shooter’s Dem Activism Will Be ‘Swept Up’ by ‘Partisans’

On her 12 p.m. ET hour show on Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell was worried that the clear Democratic affiliation and left-wing activism of the shooter who attacked members of Congress was going to be “swept up” in coverage of the violence and exploited by “partisans.”

She acknowledged that alleged shooter James T. Hodgkinson “was a volunteer in [Bernie] Sanders’ campaign” and that “within his mental condition, there was, at least he felt, some sort of political motivation, as horrible as that is to even address.” Correspondent Garrett Haake – reporting from the scene of the attack in Alexandria, Virginia – worried: “...you are seeing the suspect’s political activities get swept up into this....already the political and apparently anti-Republican leanings of this suspect are getting drawn into the conversation...”

Mitchell echoed that sentiment: “Yeah, and we can see that he, in still photos, has in the past been a protester. This will inevitably be swept up through social media.”

Talking to Senator Claire McCaskill later on the program, Mitchell fretted: “Do you have concerns, we just heard from Senator Sanders, that partisans on both sides are going to try to take advantage of the fact this alleged shooter was in some way connected to protests against Republicans?”

The Missouri Democrat replied:

I hope not. This is not the first time a member of Congress has been shot by someone who clearly was not well and had evil in their heart. I hope it’s the last. But it is, I think, a big mistake to use this as a moment to find division among us, to take sides, to sign up for teams, to play gotcha politics.

McCaskill was quite right, six years ago, Arizona Congressman Gabrielle Giffords and several others were shot by Jared Loughner outside a grocery store on a Saturday morning. At that time, Democrats and liberal media figures like Mitchell had no problem jumping to false conclusions that the shooting was somehow inspired by Sarah Palin or conservative Tea Party activists.

Just two days after that attack, Mitchell began a report for NBC’s Today by proclaiming: “Sarah Palin responded to the tragedy in Tucson by offering condolences and prayers on her Facebook page. And while there is no indication that this suspect was inspired, in any way, by political speech the attack has reopened criticism of the way Palin targeted Gabby Giffords and 19 other Democrats in last year’s campaign.”
 
The liberal journalist wasn’t at all concerned with her reporting being “swept up” in politics or “partisans” trying to “take advantage” of the situation. So what’s changed?

While it would clearly be wrong to blame Bernie Sanders, who strongly condemned Wednesday’s shooting, or the Democratic Party at large for the violent actions of one disturbed individual, it was beyond outrageous for those on the left and in the press to do exactly that to the GOP in 2011.  

If Mitchell and her colleagues want to be taken seriously when calling for political unity in times of crisis, they should first apologize for stoking such division in the past.

Here are excerpts of Mitchell’s June 14 coverage:

12:36 PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: We also know from the statement from Senator Bernie Sanders that he apparently, according to his social media, to his Facebook account, was a volunteer in Sanders’ campaign. Sanders has acknowledged that and says he is “disgusted, appalled by this despicable act of violence,” calling, of course, for non-violence. So there was, within whatever the mental condition of this man – and now that he has died, there’s no way to question him – but within his mental condition, there was, at least he felt, some sort of political motivation, as horrible as that is to even address.

(...)

GARRETT HAAKE: Now you mentioned the political activity. Senator Sanders came out and said this is deplorable, it’s despicable, it has nothing to do with his campaign. He advocates for a non-violent approach. But you are seeing the suspect’s political activities get swept up into this. And while you just heard the Speaker and Leader Nancy Pelosi talking about a call for bipartisan here, already the political and apparently anti-Republican leanings of this suspect are getting drawn into the conversation here in a way that’s not likely to go away any time soon either, Andrea.

MITCHELL: Yeah, and we can see that he, in still photos, has in the past been a protester. This will inevitably be swept up through social media. But I think the thing to focus on now, if they can, of course, is the feelings of unity on Capitol Hill.

(...)

12:48 PM ET

MITCHELL: Do you have concerns, we just heard from Senator Sanders, that partisans on both sides are going to try to take advantage of the fact this alleged shooter was in some way connected to protests against Republicans?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL [D-MO]: I hope not. This is not the first time a member of Congress has been shot by someone who clearly was not well and had evil in their heart. I hope it’s the last. But it is, I think, a big mistake to use this as a moment to find division among us, to take sides, to sign up for teams, to play gotcha politics.

(...)

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