By L&T Managing Editor Larry Phillips
In the heat of trying to get “the story,” often facts can get lost in the haste of putting information out to the public. I’ve personally had friends ask why something wasn’t in the very next edition of the L&T when “everybody in town knows what happened.”
Truth is, most everybody was “wrong” in what they heard through coffee-shop gossip. I’ve explained several times, until we get word from authorities or official sources, we’re not going to press with rumors, conjectures or innuendos.
Such a thing happened to the world’s largest news service – The Associated Press – Tuesday morning in the aftermath of the gunman’s rampage Monday at the Naval Yard in Washington, D.C.
Here is the erroneous material AP put out Tuesday morning:
“Alexis carried three weapons: An AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun that he took from a police officer at the scene, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.”
They (three journalists listed in the byline and six other additional AP writers listed at the end) then added this next paragraph:
“The AR-15 is the same type of rifle used in last year’s mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 students and six women. The weapon was also used in the shooting at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 and wounded 70.”
When I saw this, I immediately knew AP and the major lame-stream media was going to milk this as hard as they could in order to promote more erosions of the Second Amendment.
Shortly after turning on Fox News Channel at home that afternoon, I learned some “truths.”
The gunman never had an AR-15 and never used one in the 30-minute gun battle. The reports were then saying he had taken the handgun from an officer he had shot – one handgun.
The truth was he had purchased a shotgun – legally – and that’s what he was using.
Wednesday morning, I e-mailed National AP Media Director Paul Colford with several questions.
• I am asking for an official statement explaining which one of these “journalists” inserted the two paragraphs in the article?
• My readers (and I) want to know who placed it in the story?
• Why was it not confirmed with another source?
• What are the consequences the reporter faces now?
• What is the official excuse for why this misinformation was allowed to go unchallenged by the bureau chief?
One of my immediate thoughts was that true old-fashioned journalists and reporters seldom ever used “anonymous sources,” because the readers can rightly assume it’s the journalist’s opinion or agenda being proved or disproved.
Another point is, if one of my reporters were to come to me and say an officer told me this, ”blah, blah blah,” my first question would be, “Was he just putting up crime-scene tape around the area, or was he inside participating in the gun battle?”
Apparently the AP bureau chief never asked that of his or her nine reporters.
Colford answered my inquiry within a couple of hours. Here is what he sent:
BC-US--Navy Yard Shooting-Guns,ADVISORY/103
Law enforcement officials initially told the AP Monday that the Navy building gunman, Aaron Alexis, had carried an AR-15 at the scene of the shooting among other weapons. The authorities have confirmed today although the AR-15 assault weapon was found at the scene, it was neither carried nor used by the gunman.
Separately, law enforcement officials said Tuesday that the shooter was armed with a shotgun and two handguns. There are conflicting reports from the authorities about whether Alexis had one or two handguns.
We are investigating further on the handguns and will expedite clarification in our stories.
Of course, my question is how many in the lame-stream media will carry that correction. Most likely, it will be ignored by a majority of them, as it doesn’t fit their agenda. It will be swept silently under the rug, but Obama’s vigor in using these people’s deaths for his anti-Second Amendment proposals will be reported on in detail and fanatically.
I heard Obama Wednesday morning, “I want Congress to at least have a vote on background checks.”
His Democratic friends in the Senate don’t want a vote. They know background checks are already done on anyone purchasing any kind of gun, (a fact Obama constantly ignores) and facing elections in 13 months, those Senators don’t want to be seen as anti-Second Amendment.
These poor, innocent victims are just being laid to rest while families and friends mourn, but the political games have begun.
People across the nation need to ask themselves, “Why are these Democrats intent on making us vulnerable and defenseless – promoting and voting on laws that disarm innocent, law-abiding citizens?”
PS: AP forgot to mention the Newtown school and Aurora theater were gun-free zones – or more properly called – government-sanctioned killing fields.