ABC Informs Viewers of FRC Shooter's Anti-Conservative Views
On the day after gunman Floyd Corkins attacked the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., ABC's World News on Thursday was the only broadcast network evening newscast to run a followup report which elaborated on Corkins's political opposition to the group's conservative views.
Correspondent Pierre Thomas recounted that the gunman was "frustrated about the treatment of homosexuals" and was "angry about the Family Research Council's conservative Christian values, and its recent support of the owner of Chick-fil-A."
Thomas concluded by noting that the FRC criticized the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center for "rhetoric" it has used against the conservative group in recent years.
The ABC correspondent notably did not apply any ideological labels to the Southern Poverty Law Center when it was mentioned, or to the liberal views of the gunman, which is consistent with the general tendency of journalists to seldomly label liberal political groups or individuals.
Also of note, on Wednesday, World News led with a full report on the shooting, while the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News only ran short news briefs after the day's other main stories. CBS's Bob Schieffer on Wednesday vaguely hinted at the gunman's political motivations as he related to viewers that Corkins "made negative comments about the Council's work" after the CBS substitute anchor had identified FRC as a conservative group.
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Thursday, August 16, World News on ABC:
DIANE SAWYER: And now we turn to the shooting we told you about last night in the nation's capital. The gunman who opened fire at the Family Research Council, a powerful conservative christian advocacy group, and we're learning more tonight about the suspect and the heroic security guard who saved a lot of lives. Here's ABC's Pierre Thomas.
PIERRE THOMAS: Tonight, we hear for the first time from the security guard who probably stopped a massacre at the Family Research Council. The guard's mother called him today, and he spoke to our ABC affiliate from his hospital bed.
LEO JOHNSON, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I just reacted, and once I saw the weapon, you know my natural reaction was just to attack.
THOMAS: The FBI says Leo Johnson confronted this man after he walked into the Family Research Council's headquarters and yelled, "I don't like your politics." Johnson was wounded but wrestled the suspect to the floor. FBI officials say Corkins was carrying 50 rounds of ammunition and claims his parents told agents he was frustrated about the treatment of homosexuals.
Police suspect Corkins was angry about the Family Research Council's conservative Christian values, and its recent support of the owner of Chick-fil-A, who had recently voiced his opposition to gay marriage. Late today, the Council accused the civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, of using rhetoric that encouraged the shooter, a charge the Law Center called "outrageous." Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.