Tea Party Falsely Blamed for Colorado Shooting; ABC Apologizes

ABC News reporter Brian Ross made statements on the network's "Good Morning America" show on Friday linking the shooter at a Colorado theater to the tea party movement. Those statements proved to be false and ABC has issued a retraction and apology after leaders of the political movement demanded such action be taken.

James Holmes, reportedly a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado in Boulder, was arrested as the suspected gunman responsible for the deadly rampage at an Aurora movie theater during a screening of "The Dark Knight" on July 20, 2012. tweeted this image from the university. | (Photo: Twitter/?@DenverChannel)

The accusation brought an immediate reaction from leaders of the Tea Party Patriots and their Colorado chapter as they issued a statement addressing the shooting and the comments from Ross.

"The Colorado Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Patriots are saddened to hear of the death and wounding of theater goers in Aurora, Colorado," the group said in a written 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."

As requested by Martin and other tea party leaders, ABC News did issue a statement apologizing for the error and admitted that Ross was incorrect in associating the shooter with the conservative political movement.

"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 statement read. "ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted."

During a dialogue with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Ross said James Holmes, the shooter arrested for what appears to be at least 12 deaths and over 50 injuries, appeared to be a member of the tea party movement based on a Facebook profile from someone with the same name who lived in Aurora, Colo. and that the information "might be significant."

Stephanopoulos: I'm going to go to Brain 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 James Holmes. But it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo.

Stephanopoulos: Ok, we'll keep looking at that. Brian Ross thanks very much.

Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and National Coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, went a step further in demanding an apology from the network.

"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," Martin said in her statement. "We demand the media report responsibly."

Still, Martin was disturbed that a major news organization would falsely connect the shooter to a political movement. When The Christian Post asked Martin to explain why they thought ABC made such statements, she indicated the "mistake" was typical when the ideas espoused by the group run contrary to the network's own political objectives.

"I think they (media outlets) know the tea party movement is made up of people who want to see a return to limited and responsible government," said Martin. "The mainstream media, including the elite establishment in D.C. are constantly looking for ways to undermine our movement."

"Instead, the focus should have been on the tragedy and the families involved and not our organization."

Details are still emerging about the suspect and the condition of those injured.

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