As ordered by President Obama, the American flag flies at half-staff at dawn over the White House in observance of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Fox News president urges left and right to tone down rhetoric (Photos, video)

Palin refutes alleged role of rhetoric in the Arizona shooting as right-aligned news organisation chief points out that the Democrats used a target map a few years ago.

STAFF AT FOX NEWS IN THE US have been told to tone down their language as the debate about whether political rhetoric played a role in the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords heats up.

Giffords was among 14 people injured when a gunman opened fire during a public event organised by the congresswoman in Tucson, Arizona.

Six people, including federal employees and a nine-year-old girl, were killed in the incident. Giffords remains seriously ill after being shot in the head.

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, told Global Grind that both the left and the right had used “bombast” and target maps in making their arguments. Ailes says each should approach their arguments “intellectually” instead:

So, we looked at the internet and the first thing we found in 2007, the Democrat Party had a targeted map with targets on it for the Palin district. These maps have been used for for years that I know of.  I have two pictures of myself with a bull’s-eye on my head. This is just bullshit.  This goes on… both sides are wrong, but they both do it.

I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.  You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.

Former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has come under pressure for her political comments and for publishing a target map called “It’s time to take a stand”, which depicted the locations of 20 Democratic politicians, including Giffords, using crosshairs.

MSNBC writes in a blog post that the Democrat’s map dates from 2004 and lists areas rather than specific names, as per Palin’s version:

Fox News president urges left and right to tone down rhetoric (Photos, video)
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  • Democrats Map

  • Palin's Map

Today, Palin responded to the Arizona shooting by posting an article and a video message discussing the incident on her Facebook page.

Palin quotes former US President Ronald Reagan, saying: “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions”.

Palin then continues in her own words, defending the right to free speech by saying:

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial.