Networks Ignore Reports That White House Shooter May Have Spent Time at Occupy D.C.
Updated [11:02 ET]: More analysis added.
As reports started coming out on Wednesday on the search for White House shooting suspect Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, one common detail was mentioned, including in The New York Times: "Late on Friday, the police searched the Occupy DC protest camp...after reports that the suspect might have spent time there." NBC, ABC, and CBS left that fact out of their evening and morning coverage of his arrest.
All three network evening news programs made the Wednesday afternoon arrest of Ortega-Hernandez their lead story. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "Shots fired at the White House, prompting an urgent manhunt for the gunman, now under arrest amid questions about his motive." ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer declared: "Caught. The man accused of tiring an AK-47 at the White House, apprehended." On CBS's Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley reported: "Bullets strike the White House. Bob Orr on the man in custody."
On Wednesday's Special Report on Fox News, anchor Bret Baier took note of the shooter's reported connection to the Washington D.C. Occupy protest: "Hernandez reportedly spent time with the Occupy D.C. protesters and may be mentally ill, according to officials."
CNN on Tuesday was thrilled with the idea that Occupy D.C. had "rules and regulations," including registration of all protesters. Anchor Brooke Baldwin excitedly proclaimed: "This is what you actually have to fill out if you want to occupy D.C....you have your name, you have your emergency contact information...you have to sign 'I won't carry weapons, I won't vandalize property, and I'll respect quiet hours between 11 at night and 7 in the morning.'"
One wonders if Ortega-Hernandez filled out such a document if he did spend time in the encampment.
On Thursday, the network morning shows began to delve deeper into Ortega-Hernadez's background, but still avoided his possible time spent at Occupy D.C. On CBS's The Early Show, correspondent Bob Orr reported:
Investigators looking into his background say that it appears that Ortega-Hernandez is a bit mentally unstable. Now, he's been telling friends of a deep dislike for President Obama. Sources say he often refers to the President as the antichrist. So the theory is, he may have targeted the White House as a way of acting out on that anger.
On NBC's Today, correspondent Pete Williams similarly informed viewers:
His father told NBC's Spanish language network Telemundo that Ortega had recently become obsessed with the date 11-11-11, the day of last Friday's shooting, and worried that's when the world would end. Investigators are also checking into reports that Ortega made threatening and bizarre comments about President Obama.
In a news brief on ABC's Good Morning America, Josh Elliot simply noted: "Police say he is mentally ill and obsessed with President Obama."