Only ABC Offers Full Story on Shooting at FRC; CBS, NBC Blow It Off With Tiny Reports

ABC was the only broadcast network that offered a full story on the FRC office shooting on Wednesday night. They led with the story and gave it two and a half minutes. None of the network newscasts reported the breaking detail that shooter Floyd Corkins volunteered for six months at the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, adding depth to his political motivation.

On NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams gave the story just 17 seconds: “In Washington today, police say a man with a gun walked into the offices of the conservative lobbying group the Family Research Council, and opened fire. He never made it past the lobby. He shot a security guard in the arm before the guard was able to subdue him.”

On CBS Evening News, substitute anchor Bob Schieffer offered 20 seconds: “A gunman opened fire today at the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group. The man shot a security guard in the arm before that guard and others tackled him, and he was arrested. Police say that the suspect made negative comment about the council's work just before the shooting.”

Does anyone believe that under the same circumstances -- hostile ideological shooter captured after security guard only shot in the arm -- a conservative nut attacking a gay activist group or abortion advocacy group would draw just 20 seconds? (For one example, a quick Nexis search reminds me CBS This Morning offered a full story from Wichita on August 20, 1993, after late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was shot in both arms.)

On both NBC and CBS, the FRC brief was followed by a full story promoting President Obama’s new deferral program for illegal alien "Dream Act" students. NBC gave that two minutes, CBS two minutes and fifty seconds.

ABC's World News led off with the tease: "Tonight on World News: armed and dangerous. A gunman opens fire at the office of a powerful conservative group. He was stopped by a heroic security guard in the nick of time. Was it domestic terrorism?" Diane Sawyer began:

SAWYER: Good evening. As we come on the air, new details are pouring in about that dramatic shooting in Washington, DC today. A gunman, walking into the lobby of a powerful conservative organization, the Family Research Council, and shouting something mysterious and pulling out a weapon and firing it. He wounded a security guard who still, somehow, managed to wrestle the shooter to the ground, saving untold lives. ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas has the latest at this hour.

PIERRE THOMAS: This is the man police suspect was about to begin a shooting spree at one of the nation's best known conservative groups on family issues. A potential disaster may have been averted because of the work of this security guard, videotaped by ABC Washington affiliate WJLA, as he was being transported from the site after being shot.

CATHY LANIER, D.C. POLICE CHIEF: The security guard is a hero as far as I'm concerned.

THOMAS: Police say at 10:45 this morning, the suspect walked into the lobby of the family research council and was confronted by a security guard as the suspect yelled something suggesting he did not agree with the council's policies. Sources tell ABC News the man pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun, firing a shot and wounding the guard before he was wrestled to the ground. Sources have identified the suspect as Floyd Corkins of Herndon, Virginia, but so far, his motives are unclear.

JAMES McJUNKIN, FBI: We don’t know enough yet about him or his circumstances to be able to determine his connection to this group.

THOMAS: But police have not ruled out the possibility the incident was politically motivated, given the suspect's alleged rant and the prominence of the Family Research Council, which promotes conservative Christian values on issues like abortion and gay rights. Authorities were taking no chances and could be seen sweeping the area for explosives following the arrest. Sources say the suspect had material from fast food giant Chick-fil-A in his bag, but it was unclear whether today’s incident has any connection to the recent controversy over gay marriage. The chain’s owner recently set off a political firestorm saying he opposed gay marriage. President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney both expressed concern for the wounded security guard, with Romney saying, "there's no place for such violence in our society."

SAWYER: And Pierre, I keep thinking of that security guard, managing to save lives though he was wounded. How is he tonight?

THOMAS:  He's in stable condition, diane. Recovering from a gunshot wound to the arm. The remarkable thing is that he helped subdue the suspect, even after being shot. A real hero, Diane.

SAWYER: It is true. His reflexes were incredible. Thank you so much, Pierre.

AP's Pete Yost had more on the shooter's volunteer connection:

Corkins had been volunteering for about the past six months at The DC Center for the LGBT Community, said David Mariner, executive director of the community center, which is in Northwest Washington. He usually staffed the center's front desk on Saturdays, and his most recent shift was about two weeks ago.

"He always struck me as a kind, gentle and unassuming young man. I'm very surprised that he could be involved in something like this," Mariner said....

Mariner said he did not know Corkins well or have any conversations with him about the Chick-fil-A controversy or other political issues of interest to the gay community.

"I really only talked to him about volunteering, so I couldn't say anything about anything else," Mariner said.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis