Gabrielle Giffords, John Roll, and the Valley of Misinformation

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Gabrielle Giffords: Her shooting became a rabbit hole of confusion for the vaunted Fourth Estate.

Morning news flash: Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot, and is in critical condition. Five more are dead, including a child. The shooting occurred as the Congresswoman held a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson. So saith National Public Radio.

Now Giffords is dead, according to CNN and FOX News, having succumbed to her injuries. Talking heads begin to discuss her in the past tense.

Reports are that John Roll, Chief Judge of the United States District Court in Arizona and an appointee of President George Herbert Walker Bush, is dead as well.

But wait, no, Giffords is alive and undergoing surgery. Reports are she is responding to commands.

Now CNN and Fox News are showing a press conference at Tucson's University Medical Center, where an unnamed surgeon is confirming that Giffords is alive, and out of surgery. He is optimistic for her recovery, despite the bullet wound being "through-and-through." 

The surgeon, still in his scrubs, explains the hospital has received 10 patients, only one of whom is dead.

He says the only deceased person is a child. There's no mention of Judge John Roll. Is he dead or alive?

Next, comes President Barack Obama, he offers condolences, and mentions Roll as being one of those murdered. So Roll must be dead if the President said it, right?

The AP is reporting that the alleged shooter's name is "Jared Laughner."

Now Facebook is abuzz. There are links to pics from a supposedly scrubbed MySpace page. There's another link to someone who claims to have known him, and a yearbook photo.

Weird YouTube videos surface under the account of "Jared Lee Loughner." Later news reports say this is the correct spelling of the alleged killer's name. They identify him as an Afghan War vet.

And so the confusion rolls on. I've been watching the madness from Los Angeles, where I've been for the weekend.

I know it's blasphemy to criticize the global village, our World Wide Web of technology, not to mention Facebook, hallowed be its name.

But am I the only one who is now looking longingly back at the days of three Television networks? Back when you had to wait 12 hours for the next day's paper, and for reporters and editors who checked and double-checked information?

Where now, they blog it and Tweet it on face value, before doing one ounce of due diligence. 

Brave new world and all that. As much confusion as followed the assassination of JFK, can you imagine the chaos of November 22, 1963 if there'd been Facebook and a thousand other outlets around? Not to mention, every Tom, Dick and newshound Harry who long to be part of the story.

I'm no Luddite. But too many chefs spoil the gumbo. And at this point, it seems like there are several million of them, at least.

Note: For breaking news that New Times can confirm, check Jim King's posts on Valley Fever.


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41 comments
JT Ready
JT Ready

This horrible tragedy is made worse by the recent actions of the AZ Legislatur­e including Russell Pearce from the right and Kirsten Sinema from the left. By unconstitu­tionally banning Free Speech and threatenin­g to limit our right to self-defen­se, the illegal acts of one madman are now being magnified by short-sigh­ted politician­s. It would have been far better for throngs of Arizonans to show up and block the despicable lunatics from out of state who wish to disrupt a little girl's funeral, by exercising our own free speech together and with solidarity instead. It is woefully irresponsi­ble for any citizen, especially a public official, not to be armed for self-defen­se and for the defense of the children, or at least to have armed security present. To further ban our ability to defend ourselves in the face of such evident threats only further illustrate­s the idiocy from our elected officials. Instead of playing the blame game here to support our own political agendas, we should all come together to unite behind real solutions. We critically need to overhaul Arizona's mental illness treatment options. I have personally been to the legislatur­e numerous times regarding this very issue and this issue falls mostly upon deaf ears there. Secondly, we need to prevent every criminal, madman, and politician from ever infringing upon our free speech and our right of self-defen­se.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

"//But am I the only one who is now looking longingly back at the days of three Television networks? Back when you had to wait 12 hours for the next day's paper, and for reporters and editors who checked and double-checked information?"//

Sorry dude, we only had 3 networks when Reagan was shot, and they brought us in from lunch recess early to watch the news coverage(I was 11 at the time I think. '81, wasn't it?). Anyway, between the live coverage and the news on the way home, Reagan was dead, Reagan wasn't dead, Reagan wasn't even hit, Brady was dead, Brady wasn't shot, etc., etc...

SO It happened there, too. We saw the footage over and over(I thought the SNL 'Buckwheat' skit was spot-on the first time I saw it), yet nobody knew what exactly happened, and we had all kinds of "official" statements from the top. Personally, I don't think this was qhuite the cluster-fuck the Reagan coverage was, actually, they cleared up the 'Giffords is dead' thing pretty quick and changed everything to 'we think x number of people have been killed, but will revise those numbers as we learn more'.

As for Facebook, you get what you pay for... Spelling his name wrong? No big deal. Calling him an 'Afghan War Vet'? THAT was a major boo-boo, and someone should get in some serious trouble for that. Fake friends popping up online? That's no surprise.

I just read the initial story, and knew it would change as more details emerged, so I waited awhile, read the new stories that came out, and read them again a day later.

CARSON44
CARSON44

I'm 66 years old and one of the worst things to occur in my life is 24 hour news. There simply isn't 24 hours of news on TV, it's the same news over and over every 15 min.

Guest
Guest

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is a proud Liberal and is trying to inject his left-wing politics into the Tucson tragedy with his outrageous public statements yesterday and today. Shockingly, he is also trying to blame conservative Americans for the murders. Unacceptable and irresponsible statements by this senile old Sheriff. Tell Dupnik to stop the hate and rhetoric! HE is the one inciting extreme anger and hatred into the issue which involves one lone leftist lunatic who decided to try to assassinate a sitting Congresswoman yesterday. Typical anarchist violence when they feel the government is not listening to them. These types of individuals have attacked throughout U.S. history and will attack again in our free society, unfortunately. This is why its so important for citizens to be vigilant and take proper action against criminal individuals and elements. God Bless the 3 brave Arizonans who subdued the suspect when he tried to reload his handgun with another 31 round clip. They surely prevented many more deaths and injuries had Loughner been able to reload. American Patriots took action when the Pima Sheriffs were nowhere to be found. GO ARIZONA! Our prayers are with all the people of Tucson and all of Arizona for this awful tragedy. We know you will recover from this and be stronger for it.

Guest
Guest

Someone sent this to me last night. Keep in mind he is not talking about all the hate, threats, and violence from La Raza over the past year. He hates conservative Americans. Arizonans should be asking Dupnik where were his deputies when the Congresswoman was having a very public event in a shopping center parking lot? Were they in the local donut shop? Does Dupnik not care about the safety of public officials at public events? Isn't that what cops are for? Protection at public events? If an armed deputy was standing near the Congresswoman, would Loughner have even tried what he did? Doubt it.

This man (Sheriff Dipstick) is against enforcing the law, protecting the state, and against freedom of speech. How ironic, that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had the honor of reading the 1st Amendment during the reading of the Constitution on the U.S. House Floor this week.

Dailykos fanning the flamesSheriff Dupnik: The anger and hatred on talk radio has gotten outrageoushttp://www.dailykos.com/tv/w/0...

Bladed Madmax
Bladed Madmax

This may not be the spot to put this, but when you listen to the "other" news channels it is very hard as a former longtime resident of Arizona to listen to them with disgust. They analyze and wonder how anyone could do this. They state he is either insane or crazy. They post all sorts of information from his web postings and then this morning talk about a site he purportedly subscribed to, that preaches hatered to others. My firm belief is that what the "National" news fails to discuss and show, is how "elected state" officials have been stirring the pot over immigration to the point that other with radical views believe if your not a "native" of Arizona, then you have no rights and you are a criminal. Russel Pierce, Joe Arpio, ex-county atty Andy Thomas have made it their religion to expel everyone who they deem here in Arizona illegally. Ever wonder what all that hatred does to someone. To me, these elected officials need to look in a mirror and see if what they see there looks good. All their talk does nothing but fuel the flames of hatred and bigotry and those that are very gullible, then look at it as their twisted obligation to take whatever action because these elected officials have told them.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Lemons is right to a point. I regretfully posted a facebook page yesterday that showed Loughner as a fan of Sarah Palan and The Tea Party Express. It was a foolish mistake I hope to never make again. I need to be more careful and do my Homework next time like I do in my videos. But this is a pretty tragic event and all the posting and gossip is how many are processing it right now.

I

Marcy
Marcy

At the bottom of your article is "Related Content" and a link titled:Gabrielle Giffords Murdered in Tucson January 8, 2011(the link no longer leads to the article)

Mr Pot meet Mr Kettle

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I understand the frustration behind this story and I appreciate it's mention. Shortly after noon I started listening to KTAR 92.3 to see what, if anything, they knew about the shooting. The guy on the radio was supposed to be doing a computer fix-it show. I don't recall his name, if hit was ever said. Regardless, a non-news person was suddenly reporting about a horrific event still in progress. Throughout the radio broadcast, into the afternoon, he and ALL the radio folks shared what was being fed to them from other national news sources, such as Reuters, etc. But, they qualified all of their information by saying none of what they were reporting had been confirmed.

As a person who has been involved in the first responder role of this kind of incident I can tell you that collecting and disseminating information that is true and accurate is very difficult and takes time.

Our 'need' today for information and our ability to deliver information leads us to shoot ourselves in the foot. It appears many times, as this incident teaches, our media folks should be content to wait until an incident commander, or public information officer, can gather factual information and share it. I listened to a news release by a Pima Sheriff deputy as he tried to release what was thought to be known... and what might not cause problems later by compromising the investigation.

Basically we are at a place in time where the listener, watcher, or reader has to filter the information being thrown at us and wait a day or two for validated information to surface.

One of the phone calls on KTAR included a gentleman talking about Giffords and he was told during the phone call that Judge Roll had been shot and killed, which he obviously didn't know.

Mr. Lemons, the point is the media is creating the frenzy in their quest to have the first information or the 'exclusive' interview. We, the readers, listeners, and watcher, have to learn to be less demanding. But, it ain't gonna happen and we will continue to be frustrated as Mr. Lemons is.

boomer49
boomer49

Beck and his puppet masters have got to be proud as peacocks.

Brewer and the beasties in Arizona keep cutting back mental health programs.....at least we know the names of six of those that died for this greedy myopia!!!!!!

Sampson
Sampson

LOL...I'm sure Steve Lemons is burning the midnight oil trying desperately to somehow find a link between the killer and Russell Pierce. I mean isn't that what he always writes about???? Russell Pierce, SB 10-70, Joe Arapio, Illegal Immigration or Andrew Thomas. Wait he just found a link. The headline for Feathered Bastard tomorrow is "Russell Pierce and Jared Laughner were both born in Arizona!!!"

Why doesn't Newtimes fire this guy and get a decent columnist???

JT Ready
JT Ready

Gabrielle Giffords was the first Jew to Congress from Arizona. That fact is already playing out in the media.

Blair
Blair

No. This is better than when it was 3 networks and 2 papers. Now you get the corrections at about the same rate as the new misapprehensions and the got-it-right-the-first-time facts. And you have thousands of sources digging through thousands of original sources. And you generally don't have to wait for a year for some journalist with access to the background to write a book about it to get deeper facts after it falls off the front pages. Plus you get a lot more metainformation about the reliability of the facts. Just as you're providing here. Which is itself of considerable value.

Dwayne
Dwayne

The surgeon WAS named, Rhee, if I remember correctly. You just added your stoopid shit to the confusion.

Anon
Anon

Stephen, Great article depicting how the media work today. Well done. Your article gives us a picture into the justice system which also receives information/misinformation -- lies, misleading and intentionally misleading information that is destroying lives in America at a rapid rate. Your article is the tip of the iceberg. It illustrates well how information is handled today here in Arizona. Those taking advantage of this were --- Former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his henchwomen, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander used the internet/media to get their 200,000 convictions during their reign of terror on the county and the state of Arizona. Now the repercussions of all that destruction have yet to play out.

Obloodyhell
Obloodyhell

I'm sorry, Mister Lemmons, if you as a person can't be bothered to actually discriminate between random "news" sources.

I'm equally sorry if your formerly so-called "reliable" news sources also can't be bothered to verify anything any more before passing it along as "gospel".

Perhaps what is REALLY happening is that those so-called "reliable" news sources weren't ever all that "reliable" to begin with, instead, and it's just becoming increasingly obvious that they never really bothered to check the crap before they passed it on in the first place -- that perhaps you just never heard the fact that a correction was absolutely called for PRIOR to this.

Me? I'll keep the million voices, thanks, and just take them all in stride as having a limited ability to report reliable facts in the short term. Having a million voices means it's that much harder for "our betters" to suppress the truth when it doesn't fit their agenda.

Kirsten
Kirsten

"Note: For breaking news that New Times can confirm, check Jim King's posts on Valley Fever."

Actually, he's referring to Sheriff Dupnik as Sheriff "Dupkin"...

Barbara Swichtenberg
Barbara Swichtenberg

The doctor was talking about the 10 people received at the hospital, anyone dead at the scene would not have been transported there. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the President gets his info from a reliable source and Roll was dead at the scene.

guest
guest

That's exactly the problem. They need content so it's all speculation, lies and propaganda.

JT Ready
JT Ready

Too bad there wasn't some legally armed citizens there. We may not be able to preempt a nutjob from attacking. But many lives could have been saved.

JT Ready
JT Ready

Be tenacious, Dennis. Even your opponents can respect that. But do not ever become a vulture hovering over the carnage to make a political jab like so many media hacks and blog posters. You are better than that. I do believe.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Gilboy,

Glad to see this admission of a foolish attempt to attack those who do not agree with you. The hate propagated by the FAR left and Right needs to stop. A difference of opinion should never come to violence.

I understand this murderer smoked pot. With Dodo Birds pot approving blogs I’m surprise you didn’t make that connection as well!

Let’s hope that in 2011 you and yours including Dodo Bird will heed your miraculous revelation of reacting without having all the facts and tone down on all the hate!!!

USAdefender1

Sampson
Sampson

Good for you Dennis :)

J Curwen
J Curwen

I saw that same FB page moments after the suspect's name became public. My suspicion was aroused though, because of the sparseness of its content. It just looked like it could have been thrown up in a couple of minutes. Seems it must have been some random prankster.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

You're right, Marcy. At the point at which major news outlets were reporting her dead, I believed she was dead as well.

Moments later, when it was apparent she was still alive, I deleted the post. I did not want that item adding to the confusion. By then, too, Jim King in Phoenix was doing an admirable job of reporting what he could discover.

I was taught a valuable lesson. Part of my anger is at myself, as well as at my profession. I feel like I'm pretty skeptical of what I read and hear. This will make me more so.

Sampson
Sampson

LOL..."Mr. Lemons." You've got your nose stuck stuck so far up his has ass he doesn't need an annual colonoscopy, just strike a match up there and tell him what you see.

guest
guest

There could be 1000 mental health programs in this state and it wouldn't have mattered because no one did anything about it. The school knew he was nuts, his family had to have known he was nuts, and no one tried to get him help. It's not the system's fault, it's the fault of everyone who didn't do anything.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Sampson, your hero, the state senator has a last name spelled PEARCE. After all this time of ditzing Mr. Lemons and hailing pearce I would think you could at least spell his name as he does.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

You've got a point, Blair. Thanks for making it. Don't know if I'm convinced, but the last 24 hours have made me pretty wary, more so than usual. And that's probably a good thing.

Kit Carson
Kit Carson

And to add to the Aubuchons and Arpaios, we have Lemons' obsessive campaign against Pearce. Wonder of Lemons would be self-critical if someone were to attack Pearce because they thought Pearce used his influence to keep his son from getting prosecuted for child abuse. No proof of that exists, but reading Lemons' attacks makes one think otherwise.

Glass houses and stones, Lemons, glass houses and stones.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

It also makes it that much harder for everyone to discern what's going on. There's no way to roll the clock back. I'm just saying that back in the day, when the news cycle was 12 to 24 hours, reporters and editors could nail things down.

I do discriminate between news sources. But NPR, CNN, etc., these have been, in the past, fairly reliable.

I wouldn't knock citizen journos. Many of them do a good job. But there's a crowd mentality to the Internet. One person posts something without tracking it down, and thousands, perhaps millions follow.

That is the reality of our time. We all have to deal with it, myself right along with ya.

James King
James King

Kirsten: it's been corrected. Thank you for the heads up. My error with a proper noun is inexcusable -- however, we were careful not to report anything as a fact unless it was confirmed by someone a little more reliable than Shepard Smith.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

JT, not likely. The whole shooting took maybe five seconds. Once a bystander with a weapon realizes what's going on the shooting would be over. At that point it might be conceivable that an armed bystander could actually have unholstered and taken a decent center mass for a shot... if no one else was in the process of trying to take the guy down as he was reloading...

The idea of an armed bystander taking this nut case out is romantic, but so is a dozen roses...

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I thank you for the kind recognition, Sampson. If I knew your gender I would refer to you the same... It's what I do most of the time..

Sampson
Sampson

You still don't get it, I'm not a fan or Pearce, Pierce or Putz....I just want Lemons to write about something else...anything else. 99.9% or any article he writes is about either Pearce or Arpaio, or SB 1070 or Thomas. I mean after hundreds of articles about them we get it... Now lets try and focus on another subject.

Sampson
Sampson

Who cares if she's a Jew. She's a human being...thats all that matters

JT Ready
JT Ready

Wrong retard. Over thirty rounds with eighteen people hit were not fired in "maybe five seconds". Go educate yourself on firearms.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Pearce is news, Sampson... get over yourself... sheesh.. or DON'T READ THE DAMN BLOG..

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I didn't expect to ever agree with you on anything, Sampson. Kudos for your very astute remark.

MusashiRules
MusashiRules

Well if she is a Jew and the shooter had a copy of Mein Kampf, that could be a motivation for him.

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