Politico Forced to Issue a Key Correction on ‘Giffords is Mean’ Attack

by Laura Clawson –


attribution: White House

When Politico went after former Rep. Gabby Giffords for being “mean” for making hard-hitting but factual ads against candidates who oppose even the most minor improvements to weak gun laws, one of the key points of attack was that “even some longtime supporters say [the ads] go too far.” Nobody could say the ads weren’t accurate, so the claim that even Giffords supporters found them mean was the crux of the argument. But, uh, the article offered just one example of a “longtime supporter”: the Arizona Republic, characterized as “left-leaning” and “typically liberal-leaning.” Now, Politico has had to issue a correction that undercuts even that fragile premise.

The correction comes after a multiday Twitter campaign by Jamison Foser:

Hi, @Politico & @politicoalex. The Arizona Republic endorsed George W. Bush twice, McCain in 2008 & Romney in 2012. http://t.co/…

Some “left-leaning” newspaper that is. Post-correction, the original “Giffords is mean” article characterizes the Arizona Republic as a newspaper which “has previously endorsed Giffords,” and a correction at the end reads “The paper has endorsed members of both parties, including recent Republican candidates for president.” ALL the recent Republican candidates for president, let’s note. And remember, the Republic was the one and only supposed “longtime supporter” of Giffords cited as turning against her over the ads.

As for the ads themselves, Giffords’ group Americans for Responsible Solutions has stopped running one of the ads the Politico article focused on, in which the mother of a young woman stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend calls out Arizona candidate Martha McSally for opposing laws making it harder for stalkers to get guns. But the ad didn’t stop running because Politico said it was mean or “longtime supporters” successfully pressured Giffords. It stopped running because it worked:

MarthaMcSally, a retired Air Force combat pilot who is running to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), said for the first time on Tuesday that she supports a bill that would make it illegal for those convicted of misdemeanor stalking to purchase firearms. […]”Martha supports adding misdemeanor stalking to the list of criminal offenses that would keep dangerous individuals from obtaining guns in other states where stalking can also be a misdemeanor,” [campaign spokesperson Patrick] Ptak added.

The attack on Gabby Giffords as mean was always a load of crap, the kind of accusation that wouldn’t surface if the people making it had anything stronger to go with (like, you know, that the ads were untrue). It was supposed to be a devastating attack against a woman—it’s important that she’s a woman, here—as a punishment for her stepping outside the role of pleading victim. But, as Jim Newell writes, “Gabrielle Giffords is not, and is under no obligation to be, a Civility Unicorn.” There are worse things than being called mean for trying to keep people from being shot in the head.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos