by Jack Minor –
Following the tragic shooting by an armed gunman at a showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” the news media wasted no time in claiming the shooter was a Republican who was a member of a tea party group.
The suspect James Holmes opened fire on movie-goers after first igniting a smoke device, which some thought was part of the movie. Holmes then allegedly opened fire on individuals while wearing a gas mask.
The attacker shot 71 people, killing 12 of them. Many of the other 59 individuals wounded are in critical condition.
Following the attack, ABC News jumped on the story suggesting the shooter was a member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.
Appearing on Good Morning America, ABC News’s Brian Ross said, “There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes — but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”
However it was later revealed that the 24 year old suspect looks nothing like the 52 year old Holmes, who is a tea party member.
The tea party group quickly denounced the report and called on ABC News to issue an apology.
“We call on ABC News to immediately stop all reckless and false reporting, and we are putting all media outlets on notice that false political attacks on the American people will no longer be tolerated. We demand the media report responsibly,” said Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder and National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots.
Following the Tea Party Patriots demand, ABC News at first blamed the public and social media for the report saying, “An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. Several other local residents with similar names were also contacted via social media by members of the public who mistook them for the suspect.”
The network later issued a more straightforward apology saying that, “ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”
While details are still emerging, what is known is that Holmes is a graduate student from California and was student in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Medical School.
Media organizations have been quick to make associations with conservative groups on other occasions. Following the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords by Jared Loughner, several organizations and Democratic politicians attempted to portray the shooter as a tea party member.
In an article, NPR said the state had “been roiled by incendiary debate over illegal immigrants and has also become ground zero for those questioning Obama’s birthplace.” The article also quoted University of Arizona law professor, Andy Silverman, saying, “We’ve become the incubator for a lot of immigration related matters and now for the birthers too.”
Other liberal news sites wrote scathing remarks about Sarah Palin, claiming that her website that showed various Democrats, including Giffords, as being in the crosshairs for electoral defeat caused the gunman to act.
Keith Olbermann aired a segment where he spent the majority of the time blaming Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle, incoming black congressman Alan West, and members of the tea party for the crime.
However, it was later revealed that Loughner was actually a left-wing zealot who hated George W. Bush.
According to Loughner’s YouTube page, his favorite writings included Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. He also posted a video advocating the burning of the American flag.
Caitie Parker, a user on Twitter, wrote that she went to high school, college, and was in a band with Loughner. She said, “As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with 2012 prophecy.”
The media reaction to the shooting was similar to remarks following the arrest of Faisal Shahzad for the attempted Times Square bombing. When New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was asked about the possibility of the bomber being a homegrown terrorist, Bloomberg said the bomber was possibly a man with a “political agenda that doesn’t like health care or something.”