UPDATE: ABC issues statement. Details at bottom.
Reporters have increasingly relied on social media to gather information, but after a deadly Friday morning shooting in Aurora, Colo., ABC’s Brian Ross provided a teaching moment on the potential pitfalls of Facebook research when he tied the shooter to the fiscally conservative tea party movement.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday morning, in a segment with host George Stephanopoulos, Ross said James Holmes, the man who allegedly murdered 12 people in the Aurora movie theater, appeared to be a member of the tea party movement based on information from Facebook, which Stephanopoulos said “might be significant.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m going to go to Brian Ross. You’ve been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.
ROSS: There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo., page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the tea party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross thanks very much.
Breitbart’s Big Government reports that the tea party member is most likely a different James Holmes, who is much older than the 24-year-old man arrested for the shooting.
ABC issues statement and Brian Ross offers on-air apology:
Editor’s Note: An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.
ROSS: We don’t know much about him. An earlier report that I had was incorrect that he was connected with the Tea Party in fact that’s a different Jim Holmes. He was not connected to the tea party and what we do know about him is he is a 24-year-old white male who went to Colorado for a PhD.