Conservative radio talk show host
Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy were shot before the advent of conservative talk radio and Fox News. You can throw Abe Lincoln in there too.
During the 10 years I was a journalist, the one guiding principle always on my mind was "wait for the facts and then write the story." If only certain Democratic politicians and liberal pundits would have followed this mantra in the wake of the Tucson shootings, they would have saved themselves some embarrassment.
This is especially true for Senator Dick Durbin, who was on CNN just hours after the attack connecting Sarah Palin to the shootings. He was quick to speak after the Ft. Hood shootings, too, but that time Durbin went to the Senate floor to urge Americans not to jump to conclusions about the shooter's motive.
There is sad irony in leaders rushing to connect political opponents to murders by decrying the irresponsibility of inflamed rhetoric. And there is also an opportunity lost. The moment would have been ripe to have a national discussion on appropriate care of the mentally ill. Instead the American electorate only has one further reason to believe Washington leaders and pundits are solely concerned with jockeying for political power.
Words can certainly be used by charismatic leaders to manipulate weak-minded people into doing just about anything, even taking a life. Think Jim Jones and Charles Manson. However, it's important to draw a clear line between people who intentionally lead others down a violent path and those who simply espouse a political agenda.
Cisco Cotto hosts a talk show weekday mornings from 9 to 11 on 890 AM WLS. His blog can be found at www.ciscocotto.com.