At a Friday midnight showing of the new "Batman" movie in Aurora, Colo., a shooter opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring several dozen more before he was captured. This arrested suspect reportedly is named James Holmes.
Within hours, on ABC News veteran reporter Brian Ross was telling anchor and former Bill Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos the following: "There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo., 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 is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo."
According to journalist Mark Steyn, sitting in for Rush Limbaugh on Friday's national radio show, there are 34 James or Jim Holmes in Colorado telephone directories.
Steyn is rightly outraged that ABC went on national airwaves to associate this shooter with the tea party movement without checking to see if the shooter and tea party James Holmes were the same person.
It turns out they are not. The shooter reportedly is age 24. The tea party Holmes is 54.
ABC News ought to fire Ross, and perhaps Stephanopoulos, for such unprofessional behavior. I suspect that had such a smear been made of some important Democrat-aligned organization, and had Ross and Stephanopoulos been conservatives, they might be fired.
Instead, ABC followed its loud guilt-by-association smear of the tea party with a mere apology for this report, according to Jeff Sonderman of the prestigious Poynter Institute, dedicated to the profession of journalism.
Shooter James Homes might be a registered Democrat. Joel B. Pollak, at the provocative website Infowars.com, on Friday morning reports that a James Holmes is registered as an "inactive" Democrat in La Plata County, Colo.
The shooter is reportedly a graduate student in medicine, yet the mainstream media has not condemned the far-left intellectual bias of university campuses as a cause of his murderous actions.
The shooter struck at the showing of a violence-soaked Hollywood movie, yet the mainstream media thusfar has not suggested that what Hollywood puts into people's heads was a cause of this horror.
Yet ABC News rushed, on the flimsiest of pretexts, to associate this shooting with the peaceful, law-abiding tea party movement.
Months before the last major election, this column on July 23, 2010, speculated on some possible "October surprise" scenarios that could improve Democratic chances of snatching victory from what polls suggested would be — and proved to be — a major defeat.
"Scenario Three: A tiny group attacks, or is intercepted with plans to attack . . .," I wrote. "This group, perhaps secretly encouraged and funded by operatives, is reported by the liberal media to be right-wing domestic terrorist assassins, heavily armed, involved with the tea parties and driven to hatred and violence by conservative talk radio and the Fox News Channel."
Benefits to be gained from this, I wrote, are that "it can be used to distract, discredit and silence critics of the Democrats. It could frighten moderates into distancing themselves from everything on the right. It could win sympathy for Democrats."
There is no evidence whatsoever thus far that the Aurora shooter was anything other than a crazed, lone gunman.
It is troubling, however, that liberals at ABC News immediately, and inaccurately, associated this shooter with the tea party.
In coming hours and days, this lone-wolf incident will be used to promote the United Nations Small Arms Treaty supported by President Barack Obama, a treaty that creates precedents and pretexts for the control and confiscation of ordinary handguns, rifles, and shotguns of law-abiding Americans.
One need not be a conspiracy freak to observe that such incidents seem to happen again and again at politically convenient moments for the left to exploit.
What the mainstream media will not speculate about is that this shooter could have been stopped immediately if most law-abiding Colorado citizens in that movie theater had themselves been armed.
What this incident should do is immunize all of us against being tricked by any future "October surprise."
This would simply play out the report Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano issued early in the Obama administration that smeared nearly everyone on the right, from critics of big government to abortion opponents to patriotic ex-soldiers, as potential terrorists.
Such dishonest demonization of conservatives is, itself, a kind of political terrorism, a longtime propaganda tactic of the partisan left.
Lowell Ponte is co-author, with Craig R. Smith, of "Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Collapse"; "The Inflation Deception: Six Ways Government Tricks Us . . . And Seven Ways to Stop It"; and "Re-Making Money: Ways to Restore America's Optimistic Golden Age." For a limited time, you can get a free copy of "The Inflation Deception" by calling 800-630-1494.
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