It appears tonight that many corners of the mainstream media are in full-attack mode seeking to present the Tucson tragedy as the fault of the Tea Party movement and anybody else who has dared in recent years to criticize Democrats, Big Government, Barack Obama, or Obamacare.

It's a familiar theme, one with roots that go back to the early 1960s when liberal journalists depicted conservative maverick Barry Goldwater as a mentally unstable extremist with ties to German ne0-nazis.

The infamous "Daisy" commercial and a Democrat campaign button that said "In your gut, you know he's a nut" were only a couple of many such smears of Goldwater by liberal Democrats and their many allies in the mainstream media.

In the decades since, every occasion of political violence, real or imagined, has quickly seen liberals trot out their argument that conservative criticism of government is prima facie proof of racism, incitement to revolution, or terrorism. Such criticism, the argument goes, creates an "atmosphere of hate" that encourages whack jobs to kill innocents. It's as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning and going down in the evening.

Examiner Sunday Reflections contributor Glenn Reynolds has a superb essay in Monday's Wall Street Journal that dissects this phenomenom. Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law school professor who also happens to be the moving spirit behind Instapundit, described the process this way:

"With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's words, a 'climate of hate.' "The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors— 'lock and load' — and talked about 'targeting' opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. "Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's district on a list of congressional districts 'bullseyed' for primary challenges. "When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama's famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign - 'If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun' - it's just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate."

You can and should read all of the Reynolds piece here.

And don't miss The Examiner's own Byron York with his masterful comparison of how cautious were members of the mainstream media who are now egerly pointing accusatory fingers at the Tea Party and Sarah Palin in the Tucson shootings about calling Fort Hood mass-murderer Maj. Nidal Hasan a Muslim or terrorist. Their extreme caution allowed them to turn a blind eye to witness descriptions of him shouting "Allah Akbar" just before he started firing in an attack that left 13 people dead.

Incidentally, I think Reynold is exactly right to use the term "Blood Libel" to describe the attempt to discredit political opponents by associating them with murderous acts of violence.