Saturday, December 14, 2013

Media critique and other thoughts on the Arapahoe High story

Social media is afire with criticism of the way the Denver Post deleted a reference to "Socialism" in its coverage profiling the now dead gunman in Friday's Colorado school shooting.

This is apparently the original line by the Post (as picked up by an Australian news site prior to the revision):
Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with the gunman, described him as a very opinionated Socialist. 
"He was exuberant I guess," Conrad told The Denver Post.
Did the Post pull the quote because its accuracy was in question - or because of PC demands?

Here's how the quote stands in the Post as of Saturday evening:
Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with Pierson, described him as very opinionated. 
"He was exuberant, I guess," Conrad said. "A lot of people picked on him, but it didn't seem to bother him."
To eliminate the context provided by Socialism from the quote, specifically what Pierson was allegedly "exuberant" about, seems terribly misleading.

If the Post had reason to doubt the quote's accuracy, it should have killed Conrad's entire quote, not doctored it to shield socialism.

The Post story also said Pierson had "strong opinions about gun laws." But the Post never discloses what those opinions were.

Again, strikes me as journalistic malpractice. Since we're talking about a gunman, the Post leaves open the interpretation that Pierson was gun rights fanatic. But in light of the Socialist comment, and other references, it seems logical to interpret Pierson was a gun control, or even a gun ban, supporter. The Post could have easily clarified - or should have never reported the "strong opinions about gun laws" line.

Aside from sloppy reporting, I'm still struck by the timing of the attack: The final school day prior to the Newtown anniversary. I'm curious if Pierson was registered with Barack Obama's Organizing for Action, which had sought to sensationalize and elicit emotional observances of the Sandy Hook killings.

Pierson reportedly had it in for his librarian/debate coach since September, but waited until the Sandy Hook anniversary to launch his vengeance assault. Could be coincidence. Could be. But it's also possible he wanted to make the biggest splash possible for gun control, if that's where his political sympathies were, while carrying out his plan to "get even."

Given that news reporting to date has seemingly been sanitized to comply with Colorado's politically correct anti-gun crusaders, I'm not sure we'll get the straight story here. Then again, Pierson may taken with him the ability to more fully understand his motivations when he pulled the trigger and committed suicide.

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