As a guy who makes his living as a member of the media, I’m especially sensitive to those people who use criticism of the media as their default excuse for anything that’s wrong with the United States.
But there are some valid reasons for loathing the worst excesses of the media and sadly today brought examples of especially loathsome behavior by reporters and media outlets that should know better.
As you no doubt have already heard, there was a tragic shooting in a movie theater overnight in Aurora, CO. Every media outlet with a live body has spent every minute since trying to cover the story and bring their own distinctive bit of coverage to the media storm. Apparently that desire to say something new brings out the worst in some reporters.
First up was ABC News’ Brian Ross and George Stephanopoulos, who speculated on this morning’s “Good Morning America” that shooting suspect James Holmes might be a member of the Tea Party. Here’s the 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.
Sure, James Holmes is a common name and there’s no proof it’s the same person. But why wait to verify before spreading some idiotic piece of trivia. And, by the way, including a disclaimer such as “this hasn’t been confirmed” doesn’t make the allegation any less loathsome.
It didn’t take long for other outlets to weigh in with their own off-topic claims. BreitBart.com posted this story with the headline “Dark Knight Shooting Suspect James Holmes Could be Registered Democrat.”
I’m not going to parse this story, other than to note that whether the allegation is true, what possible relevance does it have? Is there the slightest hint that his politics has anything to do with this horrific act? Is the fact that he may or may not be a member of the Tea Party or a registered Democrat have any more relevance that if it turned out he watched “Game Of Thrones” or listened to Mariah Carey?
I despise these efforts to put a partisan political spin on every aspect of American life, whether it’s relevant or not. These stories are one of the primary reasons so many American distrust the media and rightfully so.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves.