Facts get in the way of the mainstream media agenda
July 20, 2012 2 Comments
Generally, I would not choose to respond to a horrific event so quickly after it happened. There is still too much to learn and we need to let the investigators in Aurora, Colorado have the time they need to paint the full picture of the story of Jim Holmes.
What I did want to respond to was yet another example in an exceedingly long line of news reporters (and I use that term with the greatest amount of trepidation) who will not let facts stand in the way of an agenda. When something as sensational as a mass shooting breaks on the newswire, the hammerheads come cruising.
I choose that analogy because these reporters are not sharks swimming alone. Hammerheads swim in large schools and when they sense blood in the water, they go into a frenzy. They will blindly thrash and bite at anything that moves, regardless of whether or not what they are biting is, in fact, food.
Case in point: The smoke from the theater had barely cleared when Brian Ross from ABC Morning News speculated, along with George Stephanolpoulos, that the suspect, Jim Holmes, was affiliated with the Colorado Tea Party. During this morning’s coverage, Ross and Stephanolpoulos had this exchange:
Stephanolpoulos: I’m going to go to Brian Ross. You’ve been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.
Ross: There’s 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 it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.
Stephanolpoulos: Okay, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.
Now, those on the left will say he did use the words, “…we don’t know…,” as if this somehow should absolve the reporter of such a grievous error in journalistic practice. He wasn’t speculating on what kind of weapon was used or if the suspect picked his targets randomly or not — suggestions that don’t make wild leaps in logic from the facts at hand. In this case, the reporter intentionally made a direct connection to the Tea Party, a grassroots organization that touts itself as freedom-loving Constitutionalists. It is well-known the Tea Party reveres the Bill of Rights, of which the 2nd Amendment is always a target for the liberal left.
Without a shred of vetted information, Brian Ross chose to make the connection for the news-watching audience that Jim Holmes might be a member of the Tea Party. He couldn’t help himself because the agenda has already been established: Tea Party members love guns and are crazy because they disagree with the current administration, making them all dangerous. Brian Ross can’t stop himself from seeing such a connection because he believes in the narrative. Facts are superfluous to what he knows must be true.
Unfortunately for Ross, he was forced to retract his statement and apologize on behalf of the network when it was discovered the “Jim Holmes” mentioned on the Tea Party site was a middle-aged male, more than twice as old as the suspect police had in custody. Apology or not, this is emblematic of what former CBS newsman, Bernard Goldberg, revealed in his book, “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.” Goldberg says, in his book, that often the bias isn’t intentional, but results from everyone in the newsroom living in the same thought bubble. This is akin to what psychologists call, groupthink. It happens when a group of people of like-minded views become so inculcated in their worldview that there is no room for facts that run contrary.
Now, if you are writing an opinion piece, fine, let your bias take over. But, when you put on the news hat, you are expected to report the news, not interpret it. Like Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
One additional thought on this shooting and the subsequent reporting from the mainstream media. Not that long ago, Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, decided to go on a shooting spree in Ft. Hood, Texas, yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” killing 13 and wounding 30. Not only was there a delay from the media in calling that incident a terroristic act (by the way, the regime made a point of calling it an incident of workplace violence), but also, they made sure to tell the public at large that the Hasan shooting was an isolated incident, focused solely on one disturbed individual.
Why am I bringing this up?
In the Hasan case, the media did all it could to keep his islamic background and his shout of ‘Allahu Akbar’ out of the news, while reassuring folks that it was one individual, acting alone and in a vacuum. They couldn’t even call it domestic terrorism.
Yet, in the Aurora shooting, key figures in the news media, only hours after occurring, had no problem linking Jim Holmes to the Tea Party movement, painting the entire group with the same brush as a mass-murderer.
Until the reporters in the mainstream media learn to stop filtering events through the prism of a political agenda, they will continue to lack credibility. As far as I’m concerned, for most, it’s already too late.