NewsBusters asked Saturday if ABC's "This Week" would fully report a Tucson shooting survivor issuing a death threat to a Tea Party leader at a special town hall meeting taped earlier that day.
Although host Christiane Amanpour, in a brief, 30 second after-thought at the close of Sunday's program, told viewers J. Eric Fuller's threat was directed at a Tea Party member, she omitted Fuller saying "You're dead" to Trent Humphries (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: As our town hall concluded, one of the victims of the shooting in our audience became agitated and was detained by security. James Eric Fuller, who was shot twice last Saturday, appeared to direct a threat towards a member of the Tea Party in our audience when he spoke. Fuller was charged with a misdemeanor and involuntarily committed according to the Pima County Sheriff's office.
And that was it. No mention that Fuller allegedly took a picture of Humphries while he was speaking and said, "You're dead!"
Why did Amanpour and Company omit this detail, especially since "This Week" included a rather lengthy, unrelated statement from Humphries in Sunday's program:
TRENT HUMPHRIES: Well, I mean, we talk about the other things too is we talk about how come nobody could be aware this man had a medical history of -- of that. But HIPAA laws would prevent that. It's not just gun laws that are standing in the way of this happening.
There are all kinds of laws that Congress needs to look at and -- and I think there is a time for this debate. But for what we saw and felt right now, I'm not sure that applause and things going on are appropriate right now until we've had actually, maybe had the funerals finished for the people that have --that were (sic) suffered and died.
My neighbor is one of those people. And -- and I loved that man. And -- and I want to see -- I want to see some introspection maybe from the people before the national debate happens. You know, and those -- and -- and it's very well to have those things. But something's going to have to happen with -- with everybody.
And -- and I just -- I mean, it's -- it's something that where as a country, we talk about political discourse and what's appropriate and what's not. I think that -- that applies to everybody including the media who's -- who's -- you know, and not in this -- this -- this has been a very, very cathartic thing for everybody.
Immediately after the shooting to see people jump to political angles. I just don't want to see that right now and I'm a very political person. So I -- I would ask that maybe we -- we have that discussion and it's a larger discussion and that -- and that we have that just a little bit later.
This therefore makes it twice in the past two installments of "This Week" that key elements involving the Tucson shootings were intentionally omitted.
As NewsBusters reported last Sunday, when ABC's Pierre Thomas interviewed a friend of the assailant, he completely ignored that Caitlin Parker had told people via Twitter Jared Lee Loughner was a liberal.
This raises an important question: exactly what kind of credibility does ABC News strive for its flagship Sunday political program if producers feel they can omit pertinent details from stories whenever they're inconvenient to the message?
Consider that the transcript of Sunday's "This Week" available at ABCNews.com not only failed to mention the specifics of the death threat, but also ignored the Tea Party component:
AMANPOUR: As our town hall concluded, one of the victims of the shooting, who was in our audience because agitated and was detained by security. James Eric Fuller, who was shot twice last Saturday, took offices at what another audience member had said and mumbled what seemed to be a threat. He was charged with a misdemeanor and involuntarily committed according to the Pima County Sheriff's office.
To be sure, transcripts are often rushed. But this bears little resemblance to what Amanpour actuallly said.
Also curious were changes made to an article about the town hall meeting posted at ABCNews.com Saturday. As NewsBusters reported, the following two paragraphs were at the end of a piece on this subject:
Towards the end of an otherwise thoughtful town hall, there was a single incident: James Eric Fuller, who was shot at the Safeway last week, allegedly made a threatening comment to another audience member, Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries. It is unclear whether Humphries heard Fuller and the two never engaged. According to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, Fuller used a cell phone to take a picture of Humphries and allegedly said, "You're dead."
Fifteen seconds after the conclusion of the town hall, law enforcement officials approached Fuller and led him to a side entrance. A moment later, Fuller could heard yelling, "What's the matter--with you--whores!" Fuller was charged with disorderly conduct and threatening and intimidation and taken to a local mental health facility, according to the Sheriff's Department.
That is now followed by these paragraphs added some time after NewsBusters filed its report:
In a statement Humphries said, "I was asked to give my thoughts on gun control laws and perhaps the passage of new laws. … A gentleman in the audience who I had never met before began booing and made the comment 'you're dead' while taking my picture. I was escorted from the location of the filming and spoken to by several deputies about the incident. I told them I was very hesitant to press any charges against this gentleman, but after they urged me to do so based on the gravity of the situation, and the lessons learned from the recent tragedy. I allowed them to proceed as recommended," he said.
"This is another sad piece to add to an already tragic set of events," Humphries added in the statement. "My hope continues to remain that we as a community be allowed the ability to heal and focus on those things that will best help our city and its citizens recover from this deadly tragedy," he said.
With all this additional information at her disposal, why did Amanpour give "This Week" viewers such a brief, incomplete description of what happened at the end of her town hall meeting?
Would Amanpour have made the same omission if Fuller was the Tea Party leader and Humphries the shooting survivor?
Quite the contrary, it seems a metaphysical certitude that if a Tea Partier had issued exactly the same threat to a shooting survivor during this gathering, it would have been a huge focus of Sunday's program, and would likely have been reported by every other news agency in America.
Unfortunately, a liberal threatening a Tea Partier just doesn't fit the agenda so-called journalists are advancing today.
*****Update: The folks at Mediaite have amplified the sound when Humphries is speaking so that you can actually hear someone (likely Fuller) saying "You're dead" at around the 28 second mark:
As such, Amanpour and Company didn't delete this threat despite it being somewhat inaudible without amplification. Instead, they chose to completely ignore it while giving the entire matter short shrift with an incomplete, 30 second after-thought at the end of the show.
That Fuller's threat occurred in a videoclip presented by "This Week" and they still chose not to bring attention to it is even more curious.
*****Update II: Upon further reflection, the idea that ABC News actually has a videotape of Fuller making this disgusting comment at a town hall meeting they sponsored, and they chose to not bring any attention to it is an outrage.
Think back to the healthcare debate when media outlet after media outlet alleged that someone had yelled the N-word at black Congressmen. To this day, not one audio or videotape has proven this assertion.
Now, after these same folks dishonestly accused conservatives of igniting the shootings in Tucson - also without a shred of evidence - a liberal activist said "You're dead" to a Tea Party leader during an ABC News-sponsored town hall meeting.
As demonstrated above, ABC actually has videotape of this being said, yet "This Week" completely ignored it.
If Fuller was the Tea Party leader and Humphries the liberal shooting survivor, this video clip would have been a large focus of Sunday's program, and would be all over the mainstream media.
Just imagine the field day MSNBC would be having with it.