Commenting on the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik launched a thinly veiled attack on talk radio and TV, asserting that the media foment anger to benefit “one particular party.”
Despite ongoing criticism that he is attempting to politicize Saturday’s shootings in Tucson, Dupnik continued his controversial rhetoric on Monday, railing against “people who preach hate” and specifically citing conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
In an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, Dupnik said: “The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials, and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not with consequences.
“The vitriol affects the [unstable] personality that we are talking about.”
Also on Monday, Dupnik said on CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” news program: “It’s my opinion that the hard right is deliberately fueling the fire against elected officials and the administration because they think it benefits them in the election process.
Limbaugh “is a master at this type of diatribe. He inflames people against people like me, against Democrats and liberals, and this benefits the other party.”
And Dupnik told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann: “Maybe even a majority of people in this country think that government is broken, that politics at the Washington level is broken.
“And they’re very very angry about it. They’re tired of all the crap that goes on, where people can’t sit down and act in a fashion that’s in the best interests of the American people.
“Political ideology aside, I think it comes to what’s in the best interest of the people in America. And anybody with half a brain who’s been watching what’s going on for the last two years knows that just the opposite has been happening.
“It’s my feeling that the anger that’s being purveyed by people in radio and some on TV is done deliberately because it benefits one particular party.”
Dupnik acknowledged that accused shooter Jared Loughner “is a very troubled individual.”
But he added: “You’re talking about a person who is unstable to begin with, and they are motivated in some cases by the rhetoric they hear and see.
“In general terms I think that people who make a living preaching hate, to hate the government, to be angry at the government, to destroy the government, to do it to elected officials and so forth, have some responsibility even though it may be free speech.
“I don’t think free speech goes without some responsibility and some consequences.”
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