Friday, July 20, 2012

BULLETIN: Journalism's Dark Night

Yes, ABC News reported to the world that James Holmes, the lunatic responsible for the "Batman" massacre, might be connected to the Tea Party.

And what was the source of their explosive accusation? They went to a Tea Party website (a funny place to start a journalistic investigation) and found someone with the same name. That's all. One of 27 people living in the area with the same name.

Subsequent investigation caused ABC to offer a small clarification when it turned out that the "Jim Holmes" they mentioned on the air had nothing to do with the shooting. But clearly, ABC News (and their "Chief Investigative Correspondent" Brian Ross) were trying to make the assertion that Tea Party rhetoric could be responsible for this violence - despite the fact that Tea Party rhetoric mostly boils down to "the government shouldn't spend more than it takes in."

In a just world, Ross would lose his job and ABC News would be slapped with the biggest fine ever levied.

And when I say "in a just world," I mean that will happen when Hell freezes over or when the MSM starts reporting news honestly. Guess which one I think will happen first?



Earl said...


Chuck said...

No great surprise here. It took me until 2006 to figure out that the LSM was the propaganda arm of the left, AND had been for years. It is through the emergence of the new media (the Internet) that light is finally being shed on this. There is no more dignity left in the LSM than is left in … the left.

Chuck said...

I heard on the radio today that the new definition of nanosecond is the amount of time between a horrific event and someone in the LSM trying to pin it on the Tea Party.

And yet, they are blind to the violence and destruction inherent in the OWS movement.

Very troubling, indeed.

Red said...

Make my snowcone 'pina coloda'.

Red said...

@ Chuck: "I heard on the radio today that the new definition of nanosecond is the amount of time between a horrific event and someone in the LSM trying to pin it on the Tea Party." ::clapping:: Too true!

Don Surber said...

You rock. Quick and accurate. How many gun laws did James Eagan Holmes violate, by teh way?

Anonymous said...

Well I just did my own investigation and preliminary results indicate the shooter is a member of the New Black Panther Party.

See? I can pull something out of my backside as well as ABC news can.

mindful webworker said...

“Horrendous details from this Colorado cinema shooting. America has got to do something about its gun laws. Now is the time.” -Piers Morgan c/o Left of the Mark

Ah-yup, I agree. Imagine if half the folks in that theater were free to carry.

Chuck: "definition of nanosecond is the amount of time between a horrific event and someone in the LSM trying to pin it on the Tea Party" -- they'd blame it on the Tea Party before it happened, if they could.

Artist Jarlsberg: First heard this sound bite on Levin this evening. Bland voices spreading crap. Your toon is an excellent and sadly accurate take on this sick exploitation of this incident and how it reflects the general attitude of the LaughingStock Media.

Pete (Detroit) said...

1) Imagine if he got his gun from the Fast and Furious program - we'd never hear ANYTHING about the shooting at ALL

2) Wannh! we need more gun laws!!! - Um, sorry folks, here's a new tip - it's ALREADY illegal to shoot / fire in a crowded theater

2.b) Criminals don't care about laws - That's why they're, like you know, CRIMINALS, an' stuff I mean holey CRAP people - How about we make it illegal to be a crazy person on the street? The Giffords shooter, This effing loon, both gone, and we're ALL safer. Of course THAT'd never fly, too many pols couldn't pass the test

3) OT, but speaking of tests, how about we totally purge ALL voter rolls - you want to vote in Nov, you have to get your ass down and re-register. "oh, that's cruel and unusual" - Not if we do it every 4 years...

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Well, I just wrote a long, exhausted summary about your comments and about my feelings regarding today's events... and when I clicked on "Preview" they all vanished.

I don't have the strength to try to rewrite it all, so I'll just thank you for the comments here, and say again that ABC's outrageous behavior is unforgiveable.

This tragedy is not a political football for either side, and I personally will neither forgive nor forget those in the media or elected office who treat it otherwise.

Velcro said...

And they say the media isn't biased..? Yes, Ross should be fired and ABC fined.

Irene Peduto said...

As a youngster, CBS, NBC & ABC were the channels all of America watched. I continued that until adulthood - then 9/11 happened & I sought out how that could have happened. It was only then that I came to recognize the slant of those networks - especially NBC. Now only FOX is where I seek the truth. This network and the propaganda they spew really ought to be against the law.

John the Econ said...

Congratulations to ABC's Brian Ross, this week's winner of the "I'm not a journalist, but I play one on TV" award for saying "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 the same Jim Holmes."

If you don't know, then why report it?

When I took Journalism in high school, I vividly recall the chapter about sticking to what you know about the facts. Of course, this was decades before the Internet made your job so easy. It's really tough to take these "professionals" seriously when at one moment they complain about the guys in pajamas doing their job when they're usually doing it better, and with more integrity.

Of course, just like with the Giffords shooting, leftist journalists were more than ready to assign blame to right-wing boogiemen before they even knew the guys name. There can be only two reasons for this: Bias or sheer incompetence. Which is it ABC?

Meanwhile, I see that there's a Brian Ross in Burlington who has been arrested for armed assault, robbery and murder. I don't know if it's the same Brian Ross. I have little doubt that if I were to spend a few more minutes on the Internet, I could find some more people with the name "Ross" responsible for all kinds of heinous things like clubbing baby harp seals or molesting small children just because the Tea Party makes him so mad he can't help it. I don't know if they'd be the same Ross, but does it really matter? It would fit my narrative well.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ross and his ilk continue to ignore the real criminals of the "Occupy" movement. There are probably some people named Ross's there too.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Velcro- Sadly, it will never happen.

@Irene Peduto- I, too, am a member of the "3 network" generation. I watched the network news unquestioningly for far too long. But when the Internet opened news sources from all over the globe, it really became apparent that the "Big 3" weren't playing it straight. These days, my primary (but certainly not exclusive) news sources are the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. And when I say "Fox News," I mean their actual journalists - not the more strident commentators.

@John the Econ- You say that the only explanation for ABC's actions are bias or sheer incompetence. Of the two, I'm going to go with "bias." Sheer incompetence wouldn't have inspired them to go straight to a Tea Party website to do research. They went there because the hoped to report a Tea Party connection, which they could use to attack the reputations and beliefs of everyone who believes in fiscal responsibility and Constitutionality.

ABC clearly hates people like you, me, and everyone else here - and wanted to smear us with the blood of innocents. I take that extremely personally.

Gork said...

I too come from the era of the three networks. However, I also used to listen to short-wave radio as a child. I remember laughing at the nonsense from Radio Moscow and Radio Havana --until one day it dawned on me that this was the official media for an entire country where they repeated this stuff at them every day.

And then I got scared. I never saw the three networks in the same light again. Over the decades I have developed a very well tuned sense of when they're speculating instead of reporting.

In truth, things weren't a whole lot better back then than they are today. It's just that these days we have the ability to verify all claims to the original sources.

And the dumb thing is that the so-called Journalists still act as if we can't do this, and that their version is official.

The fourth estate is in tatters.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Gork- I like your story about shortwave radio. I remember when I started listening to it long ago, and being (naively) surprised that everything wasn't centered on the news or perspective of the United States.

It was also significant when my career took me into advertising (writing/creating) for quite a while, and I learned the nuances of inference and the art of telling whatever lie you wanted while still telling the truth. Once you know how to see it and hear it, it's everywhere - and never moreso than when Obama is reading from his teleprompter.

I'm sure that there are many on the Left who would say that I get too much of my news from Right-leaning sources. But why, then, over the past 3+ years, hasn't there been a pattern of things I've heard from those sources proving to be untrue? By extension, I invite anyone to go over the past 3+ years of Hope n' Change Cartoons and show me the stories and facts I got wrong.

They can't. Because the things I commented on were true and accurate, and my worst fears and speculations have all come true.

REM1875 said...

Always liked listening to far away stations at night on my transistor radios as a kid. Started listening to shortwave when I was up around the DMZ in Korea in the mid 70s and for 20 + years it was my main source of alt news. Even voa would not repeat the fabrications of the big 3 sometimes. Then came the internet and I no longer had to search the dial at the top of the hour. I am not allowed to watch the msm any more -Their too many intentional sins of commission AND omission cause me to foam at the mouth- family and friends say it's frightening.

Karl Uppiano said...

I don't think these propaganda agencies ever had the intention of being factual. What they wanted to do was plant the association "Tea Party equals gun violence" in people's heads. Even if they retract it (which they haven't really), the damage is done.

John the Econ said...

One of the most influential gifts ever given me as a child was a used shortwave radio by my grandfather when I was about 10. At first, it was about the challenge and novelty of listening to stations that were literally on the other side of the world. But then I started to notice the content and different views.

Even if our media wasn't as lopsided as it is, it would still be valuable to listen to differing perspectives.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@REM1875- The Internet generation can never understand the magic of shortwave radio and what is was like, many years ago, slowly turning a knob to carry you past odd waves of static and beeping morse code signals until you suddenly hear a voice speaking from the other side of the world.

But (sadly) returning to the present, while I think there has always been news bias, I genuinely believe it's much worse now. In the past, people were Americans and it meant something bigger than being a Democrat or Republican. We had our differences, but we were at least somewhat unified by bigger principles. Now, as reflected in our MSM, that's not true. We are a divided nation, loathe to concede that the other side is American at all. They are simply "the enemy."

And this is exactly what our politicians and media want, because both benefit from it.

@Karl Uppiano- The process gives away ABC's intent: to slime conservative Americans. We will never hear the groveling apology we deserve.

@John the Econ- The Internet is a mixed blessing when it comes to seeking out additional voices and perspectives. It's easy to find differing views, but it's also easy to find confirmational views of pretty much any kind of BS anyone already believes.

This is the one reason I'm glad to occasionally listen to Juan Williams on FOX News; I believe he's a good and honest man, and when he voices his opinions I don't think he's lying or spinning. I think he's wrong most of the time, but it's important to hear his reasoning and his beliefs - because without some kind of dialogue between conservatives and liberals, we're never going to get back to being Americans first and foremost.

Gork said...

Before a dialog between Right and Left can begin, we need an honest media.

I am of the opinion that bias is unavoidable, but honesty is essential. I will happily read a liberal, left leaning account of what happened --as long they are up-front and honest about their liberal, left leaning point of view.

The Washington Times is Right of center; the Washington Post is Left of center; and the New York Times is squarely on the left of most issues.

Their biases usually do not result in out-right lies, but simple omissions of what they feel are relevant facts. There may be some editorial reasoning within each outlet that tends to focus the report on one aspect or another.

I will happily read them all, as long as they're honest. However, the spiked stories in the NYT, the outright fabrication of stories, and the reporting of speculation as fact have removed the New York Times from my reading list.

You can find more honesty in Pravda than you can in the NYT --and that's saying something.

mindful webworker said...

@Karl Uppiano: "Even if they retract it (which they haven't really), the damage is done."

Always. Like, for an astonishing number of people, the Florida shooting will always be about that poor precious little boy who just went out for candy.

ABC's retraction was as lame as it gets for having smeared an individual, the Tea Party, and being not just wrong but evilly wrong. The apologized "for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.” What? They'd vet it and then release it? (See cartoon above!)

"...bias or sheer incompetence..."

There is an alternative explanation.
"When asked what may have motivated Ross to report a connection between the alleged shooting suspect and the tea party, based off nothing more than a matching name and location, sources at ABC News attributed it to Ross’s desire to create news, and dismissed any suspicion of partisanship." Politico

Now, denial of leftie bias aside, this makes sense. Not so much an idealogue as just a self-aggrandizing sociopath who would wear any political skin to advance himself, happy to ring the "violent Tea Partiers" bell, not from any real basis of belief, but just to be out there fast and loud.

The Mail has a good article on the victims, and the heroism.

Ron Russell said...

Great toons with great commentary. Just put up several of your toons at Obama Cartoons with link back. Keep up the great work.

John the Econ said...

@A Mindful Webworker, so it's both bias and incompetence. When I took journalism in school, there was no chapter on the proper way to "create" news. Their lame apology confirms this; What they really meant was "Okay, so it turns out that this guy wasn't a member of the Tea Party, but he certainly could have been since we all know that Tea Party people are a radical right-wing fringe just waiting to go postal..."

I can't wait until the conventions in a few weeks when we'll be hearing much more of this narrative, while at the same watching these people suppress the antics of the "occupy" types...

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Gork- You echo my feelings about the NY Times. Sometimes it seems like the news they report is just a means to a larger end: shaping political opinion. And if that means omitting facts (or entire stories) or using misleading inferences, they're very quick to do so. These days, if I see a NY Times tag on a story, I don't even bother to read it.

@A Mindful Webworker- I agree that Ross wanted to "create" news (and please tell me where the hell THAT is taught in journalism school?) - but couldn't he have created just as much "news" by saying that Holmes was a member of Occupy Wall Street, or the KKK, or a radical abortion advocate, or any of a million other things? Instead, he chose what he believed would be the most inflammatory thing he could say for the specific purpose of creating additional pain and anger during the breaking moments of a national tragedy.

By the way, when some pipsqueak private detective posted on his website that he could connect James Holmes to the San Diego branch of "Occupy Wall Street" (which is complete BS, as far as I know), an Occupy spokesperson said it was a ridiculous assertion and, even if it turned out to be true, it would be unfair to blame the entire Occupy movement...just as "it would be unfair to blame the whole Tea Party movement for the many acts of violence committed by individual Tea Party members." (Note: that's not an exact quote - I'm working from memory. Angry, angry memory.)

@Ron Russell- Thanks for the nice remarks and the shares. Both are appreciated (especially today).

@John the Econ- Per my cartoon, I think the closest we can get to impartiality from the mainstream media these days is "there's no connection to the Tea Party yet."

The reporting on the conventions will be a new circus for them to enjoy and exploit.

Could November please just get here, already?

REM1875 said...

It as so nice to find out that I was not alone and that sometimes the out of touch lunatic right wing fringe represented 75% of the population. This is what the new media has given us and shined the light on that the msm wanted to keep hidden. When you tell 50% to sit down and shut up, that their opinions and beliefs are wrong, out of touch and do not matter you can bet their voices will be angry when the find out the truth and find their voice.
Watching the msm continue to tell the big lies in an attempt to cling to power is difficult but dealing with the 'true believers' who refuse to look at the evidence and think for themselves is even harder, and there are so, so many in that group.
No it maybe awhile before we reach the point of civil discourse again. Just because I am tired of throwing stones at you does not mean you are tired of throwing them back.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@REM1875- It seems like the usual pattern I encounter when trying to enjoy "civil discourse" with a liberal is I point out programs that haven't worked, and suggest we should put greater emphasis on programs which have worked. Then they call me a racist, and then the conversation is over.

Christopher Darryl Ross said...

Is it really any wonder that notes found in Osama Bin Laden's compound have named ABC news as his favorite (or at least his least hated) American news channel?
If they believed in honesty, their slogan could be:
ABC News: Number 1 news outlet for hateful murderous sons of bitches.
ABC News: By complete bastards, for complete bastards.
ABC Noose: We've hung up on real journalism long ago.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Christopher Darryl Ross- I like your slogans and agree with your feelings about ABC.

Jazz said...

@Stilt -- On Saturday, Ann Barnhardt ( commented that there were 80 people in the Denver area who share the name James Holmes. She lives there. It's worse than you thought.

@All -- I am in favor of a new gun law ... one requiring at least the head of every household to own at least one firearm. Years ago, there was a news story (which would never have made it in today's media) about a city in Texas which had been suffering from a rash of violent and other major crimes. The "perps" who were apprehended were from a nearby major metropolitan area. The city passed the law -- and enforced it with fines. ...Crime dropped radically.

That's for what it's worth.

Zach said...

What is their train of thought on this?

Maybe the shooter was politically motivated...

What is going on in politics today? Well, we have the OWS movement. They are mad because a few rich people have a disproportionately large voice. The shooting happened at a movie theater, where the super-rich have the undivided attention of people who pay to see their movies. OWS could be bothered by that situation.

We have people calling for gun control, and Eric Holder has been accused of leaking guns to a group that has killed 300 people with those guns. It has been speculated that this was done on purpose to manufacture a crisis where people would think we need more gun control.

So if that's our political landscape today, then clearly the Tea Party is where you start looking for motivation. With the endless violent crime reported at OWS events and the 300 body count from the Holder accusations, what rational person would start with the non-violent Tea Party?

A reporter's job is not to speculate, but if he does, how can he get it so wrong?

Wayne from PA said...

Very nice, but I would have Brian Ross comment removed from reality by another fact. In the last cell I would have had him say "Correction: James Holmes hasn't been linked to Batman."