Never let a tragedy go to waste. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on Monday quickly used the explosions in Boston for political gain, linking the Republican Party to the horrific act. At 4:10pm, Kristof tweeted, “explosion is a reminder that ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking apptment.” [UPDATE: Kristof has “taken back” the comment and deleted the tweet. See below for screen shot of the tweet.]
Kristof then tweeted a link to a Washington Post story about Senator Charles Grassley questioning the fitness of Obama’s Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms nominee. Kristof’s comments earned a rebuke from the liberal Politico. Dylan Byers reported, “Kristof’s tweet earned a number of responses expressing either anger or bafflement.” [SECOND UPDATE: More journalists are politicizing the tragedy. See below.]
At 4:37, Kristof tried to walk back his comment: “People jumping on me for criticizing Sen Repubs for blocking ATF appointments. ok, that was low blow. i take it back.” He deleted his original tweet.
Obviously, nobody knows anything yet, but I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord, and that the actual date (April 19) was of some significance to, among other people, Tim McVeigh, because he fancied himself a waterer of the tree of liberty and the like.
MSNBC’s Luke Russert wondered about a possible home-grown connection, tweeting, “I was at Fenway Park w my dad and @mikebarnicleduring Waco which was on Patriots Day in 1993. Speculating on possible link.”
Former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur speculated about American racism in reaction to the attack. He tweeted, “Our reaction as a country to Boston Marathon is going to be completely different if it’s a Muslim w/ a bomb or a white shooter w/ a gun.”
Is it too much to ask that columnists refrain from immediately politicizing this tragedy?