By now, we have all heard of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Like the rest of America, I awoke on Friday morning to find news so startling and upsetting that it had pushed everything to the side. All the trivial things could wait a day. Like an unspoken truce, it was understood that there would be no, “It’s your fault!” or the counter, “If only you would’ve…” The truce held for what felt like five minutes as Brian Ross of ABC joined “Good Morning America” and spoke with bush-league speculation as to who the shooter could be. Before the gun smoke had cleared, the media was trying to twist the narrative into a politically convenient story. Pathetic.
Granted, I have come to expect precious little from ABC or any other of the leftist news sites. But even this surprised me as this level of a promotion of a political agenda seemed beneath even ABC. When asked to explain something he found that “might be significant”, Ross stated,
“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.”
“We don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes”? What I heard from that statement was,
“Well, we don’t have any reason to believe it’s the same Jim Holmes or not, but his political affiliation matches with what we assume a deranged gunman to be. So, we’ll smear a man’s name on a wild guess.”
Is this the state of modern journalism? Wild guesses? On what did Ross base his assumption? Apparently Googling “James Holmes Aurora, Colorado” is now the bar for journalistic fact-checking over at ABC.
I’m not the first to discuss this issue. And ABC issued a correction on it’s website shortly afterwards. However, claiming this was a simple mistake does not, in any way, let ABC, Ross or any of his superiors off the hook for this complete lack of journalistic integrity.
If this scene seems familiar to you, that’s because it happened last year as well. A deranged nut-job, Jared Loughner, shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, Arizona. He killed six people. Then, too, because it was both politically expedient and politically convenient, the media went into a frenzy. The left cited Sarah Palin’s hard-line conservatism as heated rhetoric that prompted this would-be assassin to open fire on people. Harsh words from the left hailed down with a fury upon the Tea Party Movement, calling our brand of legitimate political activism “uncivil”. Before anything could be confirmed about Loughner’s motives, it was all but declared by the liberal media that to blame for this tragedy was both the atmosphere of political tensions created by the Tea Party’s rhetoric and, of course, loose gun laws.
But, what nobody in the leftist media tried to ascertain before they reported, was that Loughner was a lone whacko, not affiliated with any right or left movement. In fact, he appears to be apolitical, a run-of-the-mill nutcase that has yet to stand trial because he is too crazy.
What made this egregious breach of journalistic ethics so maddening is that though their theory of the motive for the crime was pure speculation, the myth took off. The media had done what they set out to do; they were not interested in reporting an event, they were interested in turning public opinion against the Tea Party. They had to do something, after all, the myth that they were “racist” just wasn’t panning out.
Where were the mass retractions? The apologies? The media chomped at the bit to smear the Tea Party Movement; and in a morbid fashion, in the aftermath of a national tragedy, capitalized on a myth of it’s own creation to attempt to delegitimize the grassroots movement calling for smaller government and fiscal responsibility.
And now, here we are again, over a year later and another shooter has gone on a spree. However, in Ross’ hurry to smear the Tea Party, he smeared an innocent man. Jim Holmes, the 52 year-old former law enforcement officer cited by Ross as the shooter, has committed no crime other than to have the same name as the shooter 28 years his junior. Ross was, apparently, referencing this page. Jim Holmes, after being cited as the shooter, stated,
“What kind of idiot makes that kind of statement? Really, seriously, how do we take a journalist seriously when it’s pretty clear they really haven’t done any sort of check on their facts?”
There are so many facets of a person’s personality that shape what we do. Unlike the zealots in the mainstream media, I cannot begin to speculate as to the shooter’s motives. There were 14 different people with the name Jim Holmes in Aurora, Colorado. How many of them were in the Rotary Club? The Freemasons? The NAACP? How many were ex-cons? Were veterans? We really don’t know.
And that’s the point. There are a million possible reasons why someone might have snapped and gone on a shooting spree. Political affiliation is just one of a million things that defines someone, one of a million things that drives someone’s actions. So, why throw out wild guesses and tacit, thinly-veiled accusations except to delegitimize that which the liberal media despises? It is not coincidence that Ross did not say, “We found a Jim Holmes of the Aurora Country Club…”
Most importantly, the media’s campaign against the Tea Party is flawed from the ground up. Despite claims that the Tea Party is racist, in an age of iPhones and digital cameras, nobody has produced evidence to show racism at rallies. In fact, Andrew Breitbart died waiting for someone to collect the $100,000 he offered for evidence of Tea Partiers spitting and hurling racial epithets at representatives on Capitol Hill during the enacting of Obamacare.
When that didn’t work, the narrative shifted to the aforementioned Loughner narrative, where Tea Party rhetoric was to blame for the violence. But that didn’t pan out either. But, yet, here we are again…
So, let’s clear the air. The Tea Party is not a vigilante group, a gun-rights group or an anti-government group. In fact, this group, more than any other that I have seen, is incredibly interested in working with government. We are a grassroots group with the goal of producing smaller, administratively-minded government with fiscal responsibility and accountability being our central goal. We are a dedicated and vocal group that aims to express our vision of government in the most American of ways; we look to peacefully protest and to maintain a functional dialogue with our representatives in government. Yet, for some reason, the fascists in the media are hell-bent on painting the Tea Party Movement as anything but what it truly is. While I am not naïve enough to believe that there is objective truth in journalism anymore, is it so much to ask that narratives not be fabricated with the goal of discrediting a group with whom they disagree?
The Tea Party is here because people are tired of a government that no longer feels accountable to the people. We must refute this mis-characterizations and character attacks from the media whenever they pop up. We must be involved and demand the changes America needs. To become involved or to educate yourself, please visit www.TheTeaParty.net