Brian Ross’ week ended with a bang Friday. While reporting on the Aurora theater shooting, the ABC News journalist said live on the air that he found someone who shared the same name as the alleged shooter on a local tea party group’s web page.
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the tea party last year,” Ross said that morning on GMA. “Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes – but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.” (As an aside, in news reports the shooter is referred to by his full name James Holmes.)
The tea party Holmes — who, it turns out, is not the shooter with the same name — told The Daily Caller, “Really, seriously, how do we take a journalist seriously when it’s pretty clear they really haven’t done any sort of check on their facts?”
Ross and ABC both issued apologies:
“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. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”
Even so, The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart mocked Ross on his show last night. “[ABC News Anchor] George Stephanopoulos is in the middle of doing a lot of things,” Stewart said. “But I’m assuming that he was under the impression Brian Ross checks out the sh-t he says on-air before saying it, since Brian Ross is their chief investigative correspondent and not, let’s say, the office gossip.”
But in the hyper-fast, ultra-competitive, increasingly-politicized news environment we now live in, is Ross entirely at fault for reporting that someone with the same name as Holmes is affiliated with the tea party? Bad taste, probably. But irresponsible? Answer in our Fish Poll below. We’ll run the results tomorrow.