A leader of the Tea Party Patriots called on media outlets to “stop all reckless and false reporting” after ABC News incorrectly linked one of its Colorado activists to the Batman shooting massacre at an Aurora movie theater early Friday morning.
“We call on ABC News to immediately stop all reckless and false reporting, and we are putting all media outlets on notice that false political attacks on the American people will no longer be tolerated,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the national co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
“We demand the media report responsibly,” Martin said, adding, “It is irresponsible for any media outlet to suggest anyone was responsible for this tragedy other than those involved.”
Brian Ross of ABC News on Friday wrongly suggested that the shooting suspect – identified by authorities as 24-year-old James Holmes — could be a tea party activist. Appearing on “Good Morning America,” Ross told host George Stephanopoulos that “there’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo., page on the Colorado Tea Party site.”
Ross apparently was referencing this page on the website of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.
ABC News has since apologized.
“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,” the organization said on its website. “ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”
Regina Thomson, the president of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement, “The member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, Jim Holmes, age 52 is not the same person who has been identified as the shooter.”
“The attempts of some media organizations to characterize the shooter as a Tea Party member without having made any effort to contact our organization are shameless and reprehensible,” she said.
Breitbart News on Friday was given a comment from James Michael Holmes, the 52-year-old man who Ross incorrectly suggested may have been the shooter.
“It was freaky,” Holmes said, saying he has disconnected his phone.