ABC News’ Brian Ross speculated this morning that the alleged shooter who attacked a Batman premier in Colorado might be a member of the Tea Party. His suggestion — since retracted by ABC — continues a trend of media figures wrongly tying such tragedies to the Tea Party since 2010.
In February 2010, Joseph Stack became a Tea Partier for purposes of the media after he committed suicide by flying his small airplane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. New York Magazine, after reading his online suicide note/manifesto that day, immediately declared that “a lot of his rhetoric could have been taken directly from a handwritten sign at a tea party rally.” The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart added that “his alienation is similar to that we’re hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.”
Neither Capehart or NYMAG mentioned that Stack quoted the Communist Manifesto approvingly and denounced capitalism as a system that teaches, “From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.” That would seem to put him at odds with the Tea Partiers, who often attacked Obamacare as a socialist government program.
A few months later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the failed attempt to bomb Times Square was carried out by someone “with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something.” The would-be bomber, a Pakistani immigrant, said in court “If I’m given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah.”Most famously, politicians and media figures attacked Sarah Palin and the Tea Party after the Tucson shooting that wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords, R-Ariz., and killed six others. Palin was faulted for having put “crosshairs” over Giffords’ district when she was targeting Democratic seats that might be vulnerable to Republican takeover. Even a year after the shooting, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was willing to cite the shooting as proof that politicians need to “tone things down, particularly in light of” the Tucson shooting. “I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement,” she said.
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Publisher’s Note: Please also read the Wall Street Journal’s excellent article, Extreme Prejudice. It gives a brief background on the innocent Jim Holmes (he “is a 52-year-old Hispanic conservative who joined the Tea Party after becoming disillusioned with the Republican party. . . . He disconnected his telephone and says that he is worried about members of his family who might be contacted by the media”) and notes that
There was one other factor, and this is what makes the ABC error not just amateurish but sinister: the innocent Jim Holmes’s involvement with the Tea Party. For more than three years liberal journalists have falsely portrayed the Tea Party as racist and potentially violent. After the January 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., speculation immediately began that the suspect was a Tea Partier. Even after it was proved that he was not, the New York Times published a despicable editorial blaming conservatives anyway.