NYT Editorial: Scalise Victim of 'Apparently Politically Motivated Gunman'

Assailant had list of GOP congressmen in his pocket at time of shooting

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to game one of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
August 9, 2019

The New York Times editorial board is not certain that the far-left gunman who attacked a Republican congressional baseball practice in 2017 was politically motivated.

In an editorial urging the public to be more aware of who and what funds political campaigns, the Times described then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) as the victim of "an apparently politically motivated gunman in 2017." The conditional language suggested the motivations of the assailant, James Hodgkinson, were still unknown.

The editorial cited Scalise after he and other Republicans criticized Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) this week for incitement. Castro posted a list of 44 San Antonio residents who had made maximum contributions to President Donald Trump in 2019:

Public shaming seemed to be at the core of Mr. Castro’s tweet as well, though the outcry from Republican officials was much louder. The Texas congressman was accused of "inviting harassment" and "encouraging violence against" his own constituents. "People should not be personally targeted for their political views," warned Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, noting that he knew "firsthand" that "lives are at stake." (Mr. Scalise was shot by an apparently politically motivated gunman in 2017.) Donald Trump Jr. equated Mr. Castro’s tweet with the "hit list" kept by the perpetrator of Sunday’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. There were calls for Mr. Castro to resign, and the hashtag #ImpeachJoaquinCastro trended on Twitter. (Note: Constitutionally speaking, impeaching House members is not a thing.)

Hodgkinson had a list with the names of several Republican congressmen in his pocket at the time of his attempted massacre. He critically wounded Scalise and injured several others but did not kill anyone. Hodgkinson was killed by police at the scene.

A report by the Virginia state's attorney office concluded Hodgkinson was motivated by "rage against Republican legislators" and committed an act of "terrorism." He was an avid supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

In 2017 the New York Times linked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D., Ariz.) in an editorial. Palin is now suing the paper for defamation.