Monday's front-page story from Tucson, the site of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and murder of six others, began with concerns from suspect Jared Loughner's college classmates about his bizarre and aggressive behavior, but the Times switched to the role of politics in his life.
Times reporters treated as an objective source of facts an unlabeled left-wing group that reliably finds right-wing "hate" wherever it looks on the right. Sure enough, the Southern Poverty Law Center suggested the "far right" may have influenced Loughner.
("After Suspect's Outbursts, Foreboding in Class " was reported by Kirk Johnson, Serge Kovaleski, Dan Frosch and Eric Lipton.)
Some people who study right-wing militia groups and those who align themselves with the so-called Patriot movement said Mr. Loughner's comments on subjects like the American currency and the Constitution, which he posted online in various video clips, were strikingly similar in language and tone to the voices of the Internet's more paranoid, extremist corners.
In the text on one of the videos, for example, Mr. Loughner states, "No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver." He also argues that "the current government officials are in power for their currency" and he uses his videos to display text about becoming a treasurer of "a new money system."
The position, for instance, that currency not backed by a gold or silver standard is worthless is a hallmark of the far right and the militia movement, said Mark Potok, who directs research on hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Law enforcement officials said they suspected that Mr. Loughner might also have been influenced by things like American Renaissance, a conservative magazine that describes itself as "America's premiere publication of racial-realist thought."....Mr. Taylor said that his organization had searched its subscriber list going back 20 years, as well as lists of those who had attended the group's conferences since 1994, but that there was no record of a Mr. Loughner.
Some specific backup for that last charge would have been helpful. Note that "American Renaissance" is a racialist magazine on the fringe of the conservative movement. It's interesting that the Times would for once downplay a conservative media organ's extremism, portraying a radical magazine as part of the political mainstream.