Early report, citing only Obama officials, labeled shooter a conservative
Monday, January 10, 2011 E-Mail this story Free Headline Alerts
The following is based on a report by Cliff Kincaid for Accuracy in Media.
The only certain fact about the motivation of Arizona killer Jared Loughner is that, like the lunatic who opened fire on the Pentagon last March, he is a pothead. Several people who knew Loughner say that he was a serious abuser of the drug and “liked to smoke pot.” What’s more, Loughner had been arrested in 2007 for possessing drug paraphernalia.
The use of marijuana has been linked to mental illness, including psychosis, and increases the kind of paranoia exhibited by Loughner in his writings. However, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News reported on Sunday morning that the killer was a political conservative.
Using Obama officials as her sources, she reported that “intelligence gathered by the Department of Homeland Security and shared with state officials across the United States” had revealed “a strong suspicion” that the shooter was influenced by a publication called American Renaissance (AR).
This publication is on the right side of the political spectrum and criticizes racial preference and “diversity” programs and immigration policies that it claims weaken the strength of a country. It has scheduled a Feb. 4–6 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.
One would have expected that a “conservative” news channel dedicated to fairness and balance would not be so quick to publicize the charges or “suspicions” of some anonymous federal officials in the Obama Administration who could be anxious to smear conservative groups.
But without bothering to get a response, Griffin claimed: “This is based on some of the videos he posted on YouTube. This group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, and anti-Semitic.”
But a review of Loughner’s YouTube videos finds nothing about American Renaissance.
To make matters worse, it turns out that Griffin not only did not contact AR for a response but mischaracterized the nature of the publication.
Jared Taylor of American Renaissance told AIM that he first heard about the charge from CNN, not Fox News. He said that when he found out about the story on the Fox News Web site, he e-mailed several Fox News correspondents denouncing the allegations. “I got no response,” he said.
Eventually, he was contacted by James Rosen of Fox News. But that was after Fox News analyst Juan Williams, recently fired by National Public Radio, cited the charges as if they were true on Fox News Sunday.
Apparently using the questionable Griffin story as his source, Williams was quick to claim “there are connections between him [the shooter] and this group, American Renaissance, I think they’re called, and they are strongly anti-immigrant, they’re anti-Semitic and they’re anti-government.”
Williams cited no facts to back up his characterization.
Taylor told Rosen that the charges are “scurrilous” and that he took issue with the reference to his group being “anti-ZOG” (Zionist Occupational Government).
“That is complete nonsense,” Taylor said. “I have absolutely no idea what DHS [Department of Homeland Security] is talking about. We have never used the term ‘ZOG.’ We have never thought in those terms. If this is the level of research we are getting from DHS, then Heaven help us.”
In a statement on the publication’s Web site, Jared Taylor went into more detail and countered: “No one by the name of Loughner has ever been a subscriber to American Renaissance or has ever registered for an American Renaissance conference. We have no evidence that he has even visited the AR Web site.”
He added: “American Renaissance condemns violence in the strongest possible terms, and nothing that has ever appeared in it pages could be interpreted as countenancing it.”
A subsequent story by Griffin claimed that American Renaissance was mentioned “in some of his [Loughner’s] Internet postings and federal law enforcement officials are investigating Loughner’s possible links to the organization.”
But no evidence of such postings or links was cited or has since surfaced.
In this Griffin story, the source became a “law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS and obtained by Fox News…” She characterized American Renaissance as “a pro-white racist organization.”
Boosting the report's credibility, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News insisted it was “an internal memo” that was “put out by DHS” and reproduced the entire thing.
The memo in question supposedly said, in relation to AR, “…no direct connection — but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.) The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Giffords is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the U.S. government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.”
Jared Taylor countered: “AR is not anti-government, anti-Semitic, or anti-ZOG, as is clear from the 20 years of back issues that are posted on our Web site. The expression ‘ZOG’ has never appeared in the pages of AR, and we have always welcomed Jewish participation in our work. Many of the speakers at American Renaissance conferences have been Jewish.”
What’s more, Taylor noted that “Gabrielle Giffords is not the ‘first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the U.S. government.’ Barbara Boxer has represented California in the Senate from 1993, and Dianne Feinstein has done so since 1992. There are at least six Jewish congresswomen listed by Wikipedia as currently serving in the House. If this memo is typical of the research done by the Department of Homeland Security, our country is in serious danger. I telephoned DHS today to try to get the bottom of this nonsense, but apparently there is no homeland security on Sundays. The person who answered the phone said no one is there and that I should call back on Monday morning.”
He added: “Fortunately, some of the media organizations that have been reporting this story have contacted me, and have reported my assertion that American Renaissance knows nothing at all about Jared Loughner, that we condemn all violence, and that we cannot possibly be described as anti-Semitic.”
After going on the air with the false and malicious charges about AR, Fox News finally published a story with a response to the charges under the headline, “American Renaissance Denies DHS Charges, Any Affiliation With Shooter.”
A later Fox News story reported, “New details are emerging about Loughner as a law enforcement memo based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by Fox News suggests he may have ties to the American Renaissance group, though it's unclear if he was directly affiliated with the publication or group.”
It is apparent that Fox News is backing away from the story, after already doing damage to and smearing the organization.
By this point, however, dozens of liberal-left media outlets and bloggers have already cited Fox News as the source of the claim that the killer was involved in a conservative group.