Only Partial Improvement: AP Finally Notes Fuller’s ‘Democracy Now’ Appearance, Waters Down What He Said
Yesterday (covered here at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in his report on the arrest of Eric Fuller at an ABC “This Week” taping in Tucson, Arizona, the Associated Press’s Bob Christie either failed to perform a basic web search that would have revealed Fuller’s Friday “Democracy Now!” rant, or failed to report what he found.
This evening’s AP report from Christie and Amanda Lee Myers at least recognizes Fuller’s appearance on the far-left program. But that acknowledgment appears at Paragraph 14 of a report that is primarily about Gabrielle Giffords’s recovery (headlined “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves”), instead of in a different AP dispatch this evening (“With shock subsiding, pain sets in for AZ victims”) where addressing Fuller’s outburst would have made more sense (what would have made the most sense is a separate report on Fuller alone).
The submission by Christie and Myers also fails to go into much of the substance of Fuller’s “Democracy Now!” appearance. Readers get the impression that Fuller was fulminating against conservatives in general, when in fact he called out several by name — including, bizarrely, new House Majority Leader John Boehner.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Christie’s and Myers’s mishmash:
Meanwhile, a week after the Tucson supermarket massacre, more details emerged about one of shooting victims who police said became distraught and was arrested during a televised town hall meeting.
James Eric Fuller, a self-described liberal and military veteran, started ranting at the end of the program Saturday. He took a picture of a local tea party leader and yelled “you’re dead” before calling others in the church a bunch of “whores,” authorities said.
Deputies called a doctor and decided he should be taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation, said Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said.
No one answered the door Sunday at Fuller’s home.
In media interviews and on the Internet, Fuller, a former limousine driver and Census worker, has said he worked hard to get Giffords re-elected in her conservative-leaning district. He was going over questions he had prepared for the congresswoman, when the shooting began, he said in an interview with the television show “Democracy Now.”
He was shot in the knee and back and drove himself to the hospital, where he spent two days.
“I didn’t know how to calm myself down,” he said on the TV show, “so I wrote down the Declaration of Independence, which I memorized some time ago. And that did help to organize my thoughts.”
He also lashed out at conservative Republicans for “Second Amendment activism,” arguing it set the stage for the shooting.
“More details emerged”? Guys, the details had long since emerged. You either didn’t find them, or chose to ignore them.
For the record, “Democracy Now!” is a TV and radio show, with, according to the program, over 800 radio and 300 TV outlets. I indicated that it was a “radio show” in yesterday’s post, and have revised it to remove that impression. AP’s description of “Democracy Now!” as a “TV show” is incomplete.
Also for the record, Fuller told “Democracy Now!” in the early portion of his taped interview Friday that “I was taken to the hospital.” In claiming that he “drove himself to the hospital,” the AP’s Christie and Myers are relaying what Fuller told the CBS Early Show on Tuesday morning. Which claim of Fuller’s is correct is anyone’s guess.
Here are key elements of the “Democracy Now!” interview the AP reporters glossed over:
And the first thing that I wrote down and what my reaction was to it was: “How many other people? How many other demented people are out there? It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target. Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled—senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even nine-year-old girls.” There was a little girl named Christina Green, nine years old, who is one of the deceased.
Another thing I wrote down was, “Can we have another fundraiser at the target range, Jesse Kelly?” Jesse Kelly ran against her in the election. And I’ve heard him speak several—a couple of times, and I couldn’t believe he was a real candidate. I thought he was just like a fake candidate. It didn’t seem like anybody would consider him seriously. He came within 4,000 votes of winning the election. One of his slogans was: “Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” Kind of a very marginal personality and a low mentality.
I should also note that since the “Democracy Now!” folks interviewed Fuller earlier in the day (i.e., in past tense, “We spoke with him at his home in Tucson”), they had every opportunity to decide whether Fuller’s rant was worthy of airing. Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, and the rest of the crew there, who spent the introduction to the interview calling out Palin, Kelly, and Angle by name themselves, clearly didn’t have a problem with the incivility quotient of what Fuller said. Mirroring Fuller’s words, the “Democracy Now!” folks seem like kind of marginal personalities and low mentalities in the circumstances, doncha think? At the very least, there’s a lot of really poor judgment in operation.
As to the Associated Press, you can pretty much guarantee if a right-wing ranter had called out favored liberals by name, a) the AP would have been named them, and b) those named would have been consulted for offended rebuttals.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.