Brian Ross is not the only blameworthy party in the irresponsible smear of a 52 year-old Tea Party activist as the possible perpetrator of the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre early Friday. Everyone on the set of ABC's Good Morning America could have said "wait, this is premature and irresponsible" -- and didn't.
GMA co-host and former Bill Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos's response to Ross's identification of 52 year-old "Jim Holmes" as perhaps the same "James Holmes" who had been arrested earlier that morning arguably added legitimacy to Ross's speculation: "OK, we'll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much." As if they would actually find more of a tie-in, which of course they didnt. In his column yesterday, the underappreciated John Kass at the Chicago Tribune succinctly described Stephanopoulos's likely mindset, as well as how ABC was originally hoping to blame "social media" for Ross's GMA team-assisted smear (bolds are mine):
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... An earlier skin-back by ABC suggested the network was hoping to blame social media. "Several other local residents with similar names were also contacted via social media by members of the public who mistook them for the suspect," an earlier ABC statement said.
Really? So ABC blames Facebook and Twitter? What would David Brinkley do?
... In 2008 ... American journalism generally portrayed voter anger as the legitimate expression of an electorate exhausted by endless war and a terrible economy.
Now that Obama seeks re-election ... such anger is no longer legitimate. It's bothersome and noisy, might just be murderous. How convenient.
President Clinton pushed this theme after the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing in 1995. In a bid to silence his critics, while oozing sincerity, Clinton argued that conservative talk radio was to blame for the angry mood.
Two years later, the late and great essayist Christopher Hitchens was taking part in one of those year-in-review panel discussions. Though Hitchens was a man of the radical left, he was one of my favorites because he refused to play the partisan bobo for anyone. The panel discussion touched on Princess Diana, and how then-Prime Minister Tony Blair politicized her death.
"George Stephanopoulos spends weekends in my apartment building because he comes down for 'The Week Without David Brinkley' or whatever that TV show is now called," Hitchens had said. "We had a drink around the time of the Diana business, and he said, 'Hey, Tony Blair's doing brilliantly, isn't he? This is his Oklahoma City.' Those guys think about things that way."
Yes those guys do think about things that way. Not about evil as a real presence, but as something symbolic, evil in the abstract, as a device to be used to political advantage.
Simply put, as Kass in my view quite accurately sees it, Stephanopoulos, in his opportunistic, exploitative, far-left, fever swamp-infested mind, let Ross's shoddiness slide because he wanted it to be true -- and didn't mind that it was out there, even if it might not turn out to be true.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.