Fox News Report Blaming Right for Shootings Officially Debunked

Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media, January 12, 2011

An alleged Department of Homeland Security memo saying that Arizona shooter Jared Loughner was influenced by American Renaissance (AR), a controversial conservative publication, does not exist and there is no evidence of such a tie.

A Fox News report by Jennifer Griffin on the memo about AR suggested official inside information at the highest levels of the Obama Administration that Loughner was motivated to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords because she was Jewish and because of the immigration controversy in Arizona.

While many liberal commentators recklessly tried to link the shootings to Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or other conservatives, the Griffin report on Fox News seemed to give official credence to the notion that conservatism was a factor motivating Jared Loughner.

For this reason, the report, which prompted a bomb threat and hate mail against American Renaissance, was seized upon by dozens of media organizations and left-wing websites such as Media Matters and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Politico, which was among many news organizations publicizing the erroneous Fox News story, has now reported that the document in question came from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC) and not DHS. Politico said that David Denlinger, identified as a commander of ACTIC, acknowledged that it “contained errors and overstated the link” between Loughner and American Renaissance.

In fact, Denlinger has no evidence of a link.

As AIM was the first to report, the contents of the alleged memo were characterized by false claims and erroneous information. Simple research showed no evidence in Loughner’s Internet writings or videos which displayed any link to or awareness of American Renaissance.

Instead, his behavior was strongly suggestive of paranoid schizophrenia and drug abuse.

Adding to this evidence, Loughner friend Zachary Osler is quoted by ABC News as saying that he spent “excessive amounts of money” on drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms and the hallucinogenic salvia.

ACTIC is also known as the Arizona Fusion Center, “a joint effort between the Department of Public Safety, Arizona Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other participating agencies.”

Denlinger said the memo was written by two people he did not name and that he has “no reason to believe” that Loughner “had any direct connection or was being directed by American Renaissance.” He said the two people had “put a quick summary together for their bosses in terms of here are some of the things that are being looked at right now.”

It is still unclear where the erroneous information came from. But suspicions would naturally fall on left-wingers anxious to smear conservatives and tie them to the shootings by using an “official” source.

Jared Taylor of American Renaissance told AIM that ACTIC phoned him “to try to explain what happened” but that they are “still not certain just what prompted someone to tie the killer to us…” Taylor was also told that ACTIC does not have a file on AR.

While it is now reporting the truth about the fake memo, Politico had given credence to the Fox News story and even suggested a Tea Party connection to the shootings. “The group’s website features what appear to be paid advertisements for tea party versions of the ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag,'” Politico reported. This added fuel to the charge that conservatives were behind the shootings.

The Politico story by Maggie Haberman and Carrie Budoff Brown ran under the false headline, “DHS probing shooter’s ties to hate group.” It quoted the Southern Poverty Law Center, a discredited organization recently condemned for labeling the respected Family Research Council as a hate group.

A controversial right-wing publication, AR publishes articles criticizing racial preference and “diversity” programs that favor minority groups at the expense of majority rights. It also examines racial differences, a taboo subject for much of the media that gives rise to frequent leftist charges of “racism” and “hate.”

Jared Taylor had told AIM that a review of the records of American Renaissance showed no indication that Loughner was ever involved in any way with the publication or its conferences. He said the memo demonstrated that those charged with protecting America are at the very least incompetent. “If this is the level of research we are getting from DHS, then Heaven help us,” he said.

Apparently using the bogus Griffin story as his source, Fox News commentator Juan Williams had cited the alleged tie between Loughner and AR on the Fox News Sunday show. AR’s denial of the charges to Fox News correspondent James Rosen was posted on the Fox News website–but only after Juan Williams regurgitated the Griffin report. Griffin had never sought a response from AR.

Two days after the original Griffin report, Fox News correspondent James Rosen acknowledged on the air there was no such DHS memo or evidence.

In response to the latest explanation of where the phony information came from, Taylor told AIM, “We are tremendously relieved that the truth is finally coming out, namely, that the initial reports about us got it all wrong. It was obvious from the start that the memo was something someone scratched out in a hurry and was never intended for the public. Fox should have been more skeptical of it, but several Fox correspondents passed the nonsense along verbatim. At least James Rosen thought to check with us before he went on the air. Hats off to him for that. After being deluged with hate mail and a bomb threat, we look forward to getting back to work.”

In the meantime, left-wing publications eager to blame conservatives for the shooting of a Democratic Representative had found themselves jumping in bed with their ordinary nemesis Fox News.

The George Soros-funded blog Think Progress asserted, without any basis in fact, that Loughner “may have ties to the anti-government and anti-Semitic American Renaissance website.” For the record, American Renaissance is neither anti-government nor anti-Semitic.

The Soros-funded Media Matters, which usually treats information from Fox News with ridicule, jumped on the report, running items on its “research” page under the headlines, “Law Enforcement Memo Links Arizona Assassin To ‘Anti-Immigration’ American Renaissance,” and “Memo: Loughner ‘Possibly Linked’ To ‘Anti Immigration’ American Renaissance.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which claims to ferret out “hate groups,” described the document cited by Fox News as “a leaked DHS memo.” This ran under a “Hatewatch” headline and was linked to an item on Fox News host Greta Van Susteren’s blog about the original Griffin report.

“This is an internal memo obtained by Fox News put out by DHS compiling facts known so far about the case,” Van Susteren’s blog reported, citing Griffin.

In fact, as we now know, there was no such official DHS document.

After AIM raised questions about the report, a Washington Post blogger by the name of Greg Sargent published a report noting that DHS denied having any such memo or any evidence of any such link. He reported, “The Fox report caused a splash, with some news orgs reporting that anonymous officials had confirmed such possible ties. Some conservatives railed at DHS for supposedly trying to tie the shooter to the right for political reasons, and others disputed the suggestion that this displayed the shooter’s ideological leanings. But DHS has not officially provided any such information to any law enforcement officials, the DHS official says.”

The official told him, “We have not established any such possible link.”

The New York Times said, “Officials at the Homeland Security department said Sunday morning they do not believe the document is from their department.”

In a follow-up story on the official debunking of the memo, Sargent says, “it’s really surprising people weren’t a bit more cautious.”

Those on the left were not cautious because they wanted to exploit the shootings for political gain. Fox News, perceived as the “conservative” channel, was the perfect vehicle for the smear.

This will go down as a case study of how the left used a conservative news source to smear conservatives. They all ended up with egg on their faces because they ran with erroneous information that wasn’t checked out and which only contributed to the confusion and chaos and smeared an innocent group in the process. Ironically, the false report about a “hate” group generated more hate.

Fox News has still not officially retracted and apologized for the false charges. As a responsible news organization, it has an obligation to explain what will be done internally to make sure this never happens again in the midst of a national crisis when the media should be in the business of providing accurate and truthful information.


{snip}

Immediately after the AZ shooting we saw pundits on MSNBC, CNN, and the national news networks immediately spew vitriol at Sarah Palin, the TEA Party, and Republicans. Before they even new who the shooter was, they had declared what his motives were.

The left-wing website Daily Kos had printed an anti-Giffords diatribe two days before the shooting titled “My Congresswoman is DEAD to me.” None of the media outlets blamed Daily Kos for statement made two days prior to the shooting. However Sarah Palin was attacked for something she posted online a year before the shooting.

The accusations were vile and caustic. When we finally got an accurate profile of the shooter, none of it turned out to be true. The shooter was a leftist in High School, who had morphed into a sort of anarcho-nihilist who thrived on confrontations.

He did not target Giffords because she was a Democrat. He had been harboring a person grudge against her for three years and attending one or more campaign events. She had laughed at a nonsensical question he asked her in 2007.

He did not target Giffords because of her stand on immigration or social issues. None of Laughers online diatribes even mention these causes at all. Giffords is not even very far to the left. She is a moderate “blue dog” Democrat who shoots guns and rides a motorcycle.

He did not target Gifford because she is Jewish. Loughner himself has a Jewish mother.

Sadly, however, all of the disgusting accusation and insinuations by CNN, MSNBC, and the national news networks did not compare to the nasty fabricated slurs made by Fox News.

Fox News purported to have an “internal DHS memo” stating the following:

“no direct connection–but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.”

The information contained in this memo is beyond absurd. American Renaissance is a monthly magazine edited by Jared Taylor. He is the author of the famous “Paved with Good Intentions,” a controversial book on the failure of America’s welfare system.

Taylor and American Renaissance magazine has never been anti-government, nor is it anti-Semitic. In fact the magazine runs articles by Jewish authors, some of which have spoken at American Renaissance conferences. {snip}

Over the course of the day, Sunday, spokesman for the ADL and the SPLC both told reporters that they did not believe the shooter was connected to American Renaissance. SPLC spokesman Mark Potok even stated that Jared Taylor “is not anti-Semitic.” Now the ADL & the SPLC are far-left groups who raise money by hurling wild accusations at conservative groups. In fact Mark Potok, of the SPLC, was on Keith Olberman Monday night blaming Republicans for motivating the shooter. However, not even these groups could repeat the claims about Jared Taylor and American Renaissance with a straight face!

Fox News ran with this claim, placing it in at least four articles on their website. At least two Fox News personalities made even worse claims on the air. They stated, “The shooter is linked to American Renaissance.” Not “suspicion of a possible link,” but “linked.”

Fox News did not call Jared Taylor to ask him for his response as any responsible journalist would. Taylor had to find out about the accusations from a CNN producer who called him! Taylor had to contact Fox News and fight with them to get a statement on their website defending himself. He was never allowed to defend himself against the even worse slurs made over the air.

As the day went on, a bizarre trend emerged. None of the other cable news or national news networks were reporting the claim. The only major news sources, other than Fox News, was the Huffington Post and foreign newspapers owned by Fox News parent company News Corp. The Huffington Post quoted Fox News as their source. Something was indeed suspicious about the alleged “internal DHS memo.”

Suddenly, around midnight Sunday, Fox News began doctoring the claims about the memo on it’s website. “Internal DHS memo” suddenly became “a law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS.”

In other words, the memo was written by someone, connected to some law enforcement agency, which allegedly had access to information from the DHS. I talked to Jared Taylor repeated while all this was going on and Fox News would not even give him a real source for the memo. In fact, Fox News even changed the content of the memo to correct a major factual error that had made the memo look suspicious.

In their original version of the memo it reads,” Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government.” Suddenly Fox News had changed this to “Congressman[sic] Giffords is the first Jewish female elected to high office in Arizona.”

Take a look at this screen shot [see below]. I took this of the Fox News website at 2:30 AM Monday morning. Fox News flunkies, in their haste, changed the source of the memo to an unspecified “law enforcement” agency in the first line but did not change it in the title.

The title of the article still contains the phony baloney claim that it is a “DHS Memo.” In the third paragraph you can see the doctored up line from the memo that Fox News changed.

Then, Monday morning, Washington Post writer Greg Sargent called Fox News on their fraud. He interviewed a DHS spokesman. This spokesman said the information did not come from the DHS. The DHS never told anyone that Loughner was possibly linked to any group. In fact the DHS was not giving anyone information about the shooter, because the FBI was in charge of doing this!

Was Fox News remorseful about perpetrating this fraud? Did they make a retraction? Absolutely not! Fox News spent much of the day Monday attacking other news networks for their accusations against Sarah Palin and others, despite making the vilest accusation themselves. In the midst of their self-righteous indignation at other news agencies, Fox News covered up their original fake story with a new fake story.

Fox News correspondent James Rosen was seen live still claiming that the “possible link” allegation was copied from a DHS memo unto an unsourced “law enforcement memo.” He then says, “A new DHS memo does not mention the group.” The entire statement is a fraud, as the DHS had already said they did not make the claim at all! Rosen slurred American Renaissance, not as anti-Semitic, but this time as “white supremacist.”

As best I can tell the reason for this vicious smear campaign by Fox News was to deflect attention away from Sarah Palin. True, the attacks on Sarah Palin were wrong. However, Fox News could have taken the high ground. They could have defended Sarah Palin with dignity instead of stooping even lower than the other news agencies.

Jared Taylor has been the victim of left-wing harassment campaigns, threats, and even physical violence. Yet he has always urged civility and maintained the utmost professionalism in everything he does. He certainly did not deserve to be smeared by Fox News.

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