In his penultimate broadcast as anchor of “CBS Evening News,” Scott Pelley questioned whether Wednesday’s assassination attempt of Republican members of Congress was self-inflicted “to some degree.”
Mr. Pelley, who ended his six-year run as “CBS Evening News” anchor Friday night, declared during his closing monologue Thursday that now is the time to ask whether last week’s attack was “foreseeable, predictable and, to some degree, self-inflicted.”
“Too many leaders and political commentators who set an example for us to follow have led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric which, it should be no surprise, has led to violence,” Mr. Pelley said, according to a transcript posted by Newsbusters. “Yesterday was not the first time.
“In December last year, a man with an assault rifle stormed into a Washington-area pizzeria to free child sex slaves whom Hillary Clinton was holding there — or at least that’s what political blog sites had said. He fired into a locked door to discover no children in chains,” he continued. “Sen. Bernie Sanders has called the president the ‘most dangerous in history.’ The shooter yesterday was a Sanders volunteer.
“You might think that no sane person would act on political hate speech, and you’d be right. Trouble is, there are a lot of Americans who struggle with mental illness,” he said.
Mr. Pelley’s remarks came after a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a Tyson Foods lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers. The accused shooter, James Hodgkinson, was a supporter of Sen. Bernard Sanders and had a history of posting anti-Republican and anti-Donald Trump messages on social media. There have been no reports indicating that Mr. Hodgkinson, who died after a shootout with police, suffered from mental illness prior to the attack.
Mr. Pelley appeared to suggest that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, specifically his calling the left-wing media “the enemy of the American people,” could have contributed to a politically violent environment.
“As children we’re taught, ‘Words will never hurt me.’ But when you think about it, violence almost always begins with words,” the CBS host said. “In ‘Twitter world,’ we’ve come to believe that our first thought is our best thought.
“It’s past time for all of us — presidents, politicians, reporters, citizens, all of us — to pause to think again,” he concluded.
Mr. Pelley is moving to “60 Minutes” full-time, anchoring his last “Evening News” broadcast Friday night. Anthony Mason, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” will take the helm starting Monday night.
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