February 16, 2018

AP Reports, Then Buries Shaky Single-Sourced Claim That Nikolas Cruz Has White Nationalist Ties (Original Post; Updated Post Is at NewsBusters)

NOTE (10 p.m. Friday 4 p.m. Saturday): This post was current as of 6 a.m. on Friday. A heavily revised version of this post reflecting developments through 9 p.m. on Fiday, particuarly the Associated Press’s admission that it allowed itself to be fooled, is at NewsBusters.


Early Thursday afternoon, the Associated Press abandoned skepticism when the leader of a white nationalist group contacted it, claiming, in AP’s words, that “Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.” Subsequent AP reports have downplayed or ignored both law enforcement’s assertions of “no known ties” between Cruz and the Republic of Florida and ROF leader Jordan Jereb’s bizarre reported walkback.

The alleged connection first appeared in a 12:50 p.m. ET timeline entry Thursday:


A simultaneous AP tweet communicated far more certainty than justified:


As AP’s sole source, Jordan Jereb didn’t “confirm” anything.

Nine minutes later, AP tweeted that “The leader of a white nationalist militia says” Cruz was a member. As of 6:30 Friday morning, the original tweet had 5 times as many retweets as the second. AP has not subsequently tweeted on Cruz’s alleged white nationalist connection.

The news quickly went into the wire service’s primary dispatches, including one time-stamped 2:24 p.m. ET:


3-1/2 hours after the original timeline entry, a law enforcement official came as close to denying a Cruz-ROF connection as one can get:


By this time, thanks to AP, outlets throughout the world, apparently undeterred by the possibility that the suspect’s Hispanic surname might justify caution — and because AP failed to investigate Jereb’s shaky credibility — treated Cruz’s purported ROF affiliation with certainty in their own AP story headlines, including but not limited to these items still present in their original form at 5 a.m. on Friday:

  • Time.com: “Accused Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz Was a Member of White Supremacist Group”
  • OC Register: “Florida school shooting suspect belonged to white nationalist group”
  • Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): “Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz a white nationalist member

A Google News search on “Cruz Florida white nationalist” (not in quotes) at 4 a.m. ET on Friday showed that several other outlets had similarly certain headlines. Many of the articles at the linked websites have since been revised to reflect subsequent AP updates.

That the false air of certainty over Cruz’s ties remains prevalent is largely due to how the AP buried contrary information deep in one of its subsequent longer dispatches while deleting any reference to it without recognizing its original reporting in another.

There were no references whatsoever to white nationalism in a 1:17 a.m. ET Friday dispatch (also saved here) — only a lame statement that “Authorities have not described any specific motive.”

White nationalism was relegated to Paragraph 16 of a 12:49 a.m. Friday report by Catherine Lucey (also saved here). She didn’t acknowledge the AP’s original haste, but took the opportunity to smear President Donald Trump:


This dismal AP reporting has irresponsibly planted what appears to be a woefully incorrect meme which, if indeed false, will be difficult to reverse. At PJ Media, Rick Moran observed:

to take the word of a self-promoting yahoo playing at soldier and militia “leader” without making a minimal effort to confirm the facts is truly beyond belief.

A heavily revised version of this post reflecting additional developments on Friday is at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Which brings us to another related FBI failure: Dillan Roof. They had advance information and didn’t follow it through or even refer the person to State or Local law enforcement.

    The issue is neither guns or groups or associations, the issue is the personal expression of a threat. IF pointing your finger at someone is considered a threat under the Law, then clearly verbally expressing (not figure of speech) the desire to kill people is of the same level. If you express the desire to be a “professional shooter” outside of being in law enforcement or the military, you obviously are claiming you want to kill in NON-sanctioned actions.
    What the MSM wants is to focus the narrative on some group, a disapproved group. Once you buy into the group politics it then is easy to disqualify any person by claiming they are of that group using some extraneous inane comment or thought.

    Liberals love group rights as it disqualifies individual action. It’s far easier to co-opt and control a group of people than have to chase after every individual. It’s also easier to disqualify a person’s inconsistent actions IF they belong to the approved group. E.g. Al Gore and his carbon crater prints while being an advocate for global warming. E.g. Limousine Liberals with gun toting security officers. E.g. Obama’s feckless incompetent foreign policies that caused the deaths of over 600,000 Muslims in the M.E. E.g. Big Blue city school systems not able to graduate even half of high school students.
    Back to the FBI, if these agents don’t feel they are able to give a lead the necessary attention, then it should be the policy of the agency to refer this lead to local law enforcement. After all, they are more likely to have the community connections to vet the lead in the first place. We all understand the potential swatting issue of false reports. I reference the Obama campaign worker in 2008 who called in a false report of abuse on that group of Mormons when Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee. It was a subliminal anti-Romney ploy based on stereotypes.

    Comment by dscott — February 16, 2018 @ 8:58 am

  2. UPDATED: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe


    Comment by dscott — February 16, 2018 @ 1:14 pm

  3. Sheriff in Florida shooting calls for power to detain over social media


    …Israel said the Baker Act allows law enforcement or medical professionals to confine a person involuntarily, “but you have to have a reason, you have to be able to articulate that they’re a threat to themselves or a threat to someone else.” …

    …Annette Christy, director of the Baker Act Reporting Center, which collects and analyses data on involuntary hospitalizations in the state, said there usually has to be “evidence of harm, self-harm or harm to others, or self-neglect and evidence of mental illness.” …

    … Christy said that there was currently no language in the law regarding disturbing social media posts or images and that specific situations that can lead to a Baker Act exam “out in the real world can vary quite a bit.”

    She added that while she understood the point of Israel’s request, “that’s widening the net way wide.” …

    Jeff Sessions: Recognizing ‘Signals and Signs’ Could Prevent Shootings


    Baker Act
    Involuntary Examination
    Criteria, Processes and Timeframes


    The Baker Act


    Comment by dscott — February 16, 2018 @ 3:18 pm

  4. Given the litany of failures by the FBI over the last 9 years, i.e. starting with Obama’s election in 2008, and the Fast & Furious cover up and Obama’s cryptic comment they were working on other ways to accomplish gun control, can I really be faulted for thinking that the failures of the FBI were in fact a deliberate kneeling of the ball on domestic terrorism???

    How is it the FBI can catch jahidists in the process of planning and preparing for terrorist attacks and yet somehow can’t do this for home grown domestic terrorism? They engage in all kinds of stings with people they believe are going to do something.

    Comment by dscott — February 17, 2018 @ 8:23 am

  5. Here’s a list of recent attacks the FBI missed despite ‘significant warning signs beforehand’


    Comment by dscott — February 17, 2018 @ 10:07 am

  6. While the article is advocating yet another gun grabbing law albeit a temporary taking, it does make the point vividly clear regarding the grotesque level of failure by the FBI to apply EXISTING LAWS. It’s illegal immigration problem all over again and then having the nerve to say the system is broken when in fact the system isn’t being faithfully applied.

    Just since 2015, the Charleston church shooter, the Orlando nightclub shooter, the Sutherland Springs church shooter, and the Parkland school shooter each happened after federal authorities missed chances to stop them. For those keeping score, that’s four horrific mass shootings in four years where federal systems failed, at a cost of more than 100 lives. In other words, proper application of existing policies and procedures could have saved lives, but the people in the federal government failed. And they keep failing.

    bolds mine


    In 3 years, 100 people dead because of what? Incompetence or fecklessness? One is an inability to perform a task and the other is the unwillingness to perform a task. It’s easy to blame guns, it’s disconcerting to blame people for not doing their jobs especially when your ideology insists the bureaucrats should be running everyone’s lives.

    Comment by dscott — February 17, 2018 @ 11:04 am

  7. … and gun-free zones.

    Comment by Tom — February 17, 2018 @ 11:55 am

  8. Tim Scott: The system to prevent mass shootings is in place, it just needs to be followed properly

    “We all say if you see something, say something. And Parkland community, we saw people reporting, there were 20 calls to the sheriff’s department, they responded. The FBI received legitimate, credible tip and it was not followed up upon. What we have seen in three major atrocities is that the system that was in place simply was not followed.”


    If guns cause deaths, do pencils cause spelling errors? Half truths are an insidious misdirection from false rhetorical choices.

    Comment by dscott — February 19, 2018 @ 10:48 am

  9. [...] I noted on February 16, concerning that group’s leader, “As AP’s sole source, Jordan Jereb didn’t [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — February 21, 2018 @ 8:29 pm

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