ABC’s Brian Ross has done it again. Despite having received many prestigious awards for his reporting on the Peace Corps, Solyndra, and U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, he has also delivered more careless reporting than possibly any other television news reporter.
His most recent blunder is in regards to the Aurora, CO “Dark Knight” movie theater shootings. He intimated that the suspect, one James Holmes, was a member of the Tea Party. He based that suspicion on a single web page that listed an Aurora resident “Jim Holmes” as a member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.
“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,” Ross reported. He added: “Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, CO.”
Ross was immediately lambasted by right-wing bloggers and even journalism professionals on both sides of the aisle, calling the report scandalous, stupid, and irresponsible, making a national tragedy into something unnecessarily political.
Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of the American Journalism Review, called it an “egregious blunder” that delivered “yet another blow to the reeling credibility of the news media.”
“Brian Ross lost big time and so did ABC News,” Jay Rosen, an associate professor at New York University’s school of journalism, told POLITICO. “Ross reacted and went on instinct…So strong was this instinct that it overrode common newsroom sense and any innate sense of caution that might be left in Brian Ross.”
ABC officials have since apologized, issuing this statement: “An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”
Previous errors include a 2001 report in which Ross suggested that Saddam Hussein may have been responsible for anthrax attacks on the United States. The White House later stated that “the claim was concocted from the start.”
In 2006 Ross reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was a target in the federal corruption investigation involving Jack Abramoff, former lobbyist and businessman. The Justice Department denied Hastert’s involvement, yet Ross maintained Hastert was “very much in the mix” of the examination.
In 2007, Ross reported that former CIA agent John Kiriakou issued only 35 seconds of water-boarding to suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah which led to his confession of terrorist plots to the CIA. Other networks and newspapers picked up the story, using it as proof that water-boarding is an effective and relatively humane interrogation technique. Later, the Justice Department revealed that the suspect had in fact undergone water-boarding “at least 83 times.”
In 2010, Ross used spliced footage of a Toyota’s tachometer going from 1,000 RPM’s to 6,000 RPM’s in one second, accusing the company of “unintended acceleration.” The car, in fact, wasn’t in motion. It was parked with the doors open.
Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and Salon columnist argues that the ABC reporter has shown over the years that he is driven by a penchant for sensationalism.
The Jim Holmes Ross spoke of is in fact a member of the Tea Party and a 52 year old man, not the 24 yr old suspect of the deadly Aurora, CO shootings.
Good Morning America: Batman shooter connected to Tea Party
7/20/2012 James Holmes possibly connected to Tea Party, according to ABC’s Good Morning America:
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.