The Fox News Channel abruptly cut to commercial after a mourner attending a Tuscon, Arizona vigil for those killed in Saturday's shootings mentioned Fox employee Sarah Palin as one of the culprits behind a rising tide of violent rhetoric in US politics and media.
As they awaited the beginning of a Pima County Sheriff's Department press conference, Fox News host Shep Smith cued a live video from the vigil for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who sustained a bullet wound to the head and was among a total of 19 shot in a sudden attack outside a grocery store.
At the vigil, which was carried live by some -- including CNN's website -- a man stepped up to the microphone holding a candle and implored those in power to ask themselves why they actually want to be in such a position.
"And I say to you, Sarah Palin," he began, just before Fox News abruptly cut the feed.
In video that seemed to be unavailable late Saturday, the man continued, calling for violent rhetoric in politics and the media to be toned down. His sentiment was seemingly echoed by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
"I think it's the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in, and I think it's time that we do the soul searching," he said.
"It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included," Dupnik added. "That's the sad thing about what's going on in America: pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office."
Palin specifically came under heavy criticism not but hours after the shootings, when media began circulating a "target list" and website she circulated online, employing the imagery of a gun's sights to mark 20 congressional districts with ostensibly "weak" Democratic incumbents. Giffords was among them.
She'd previously called for supporters to "reload," and "take aim" at Democrats: language defended at the time by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Giffords' opponent in the 2010 mid-term elections similarly held political fundraisers at a gun range and encouraged supporters to help him "take her out" and fire M16 rifles.
This video is from Fox News broadcast Saturday, Jan. 8, 2010, courtesy of Mediaite.
This video is from MSNBC, broadcast Saturday, Jan. 8, 2010, courtesy of Crooks and Liars.