Some Twitter users are speculating that the Aurora, Colo., shooter was inspired by comments made by Rush Limbaugh. The shooting occurred at a midnight premiere of the movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” On Tuesday July 17, Limbaugh said on his radio show that the name of the villain in the movie is a thinly-veiled dig at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
RUSH: Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, The Dark Knight Lights Up or whatever the name is. That’s right, Dark Knight Rises. Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, B-a-n-e. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran and around which there’s now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time. The release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire breathing four eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?
To be perfectly clear, as a Batman fan, I don’t think there is any connection between Bane and Bain, unless the original creators of the character knew a couple of decades ago that this would be a political issue. Or the producers of the 1990s Batman Animated Series knew this would be an issue. Regarding the timing of the release, production began several years ago. Which means this was long before Romney was ever the presumptive GOP nominee, never mind the actual nominee, and well before most Americans knew what Bain Capital even was. So I think Rush was either simply wrong or having a bit of fun at Obama’s expense.
However, Rush’s statement does not leave room for the kind of accusations these Twitter users are making. While a few no-name people accusing Rush of being responsible for this shooting is a big eye-roller, this could easily lead to the kind of widespread slander and libel leveled against Sarah Palin after the Giffords shooting. A quick Google search brings up this blog already talking about it, and a comment below a Huffington Post article discussing the alleged correlation. An ABC News discussion of the shooting is also already bringing up extremely tenuous Tea Party links.
Rather than make accusations, all Americans should all sit back and pray for those who were involved, including the alleged shooter. Accusations related to politics can wait until investigations are well under way.
P.S. Timothy Carney notes that two liberals have stepped up to the ball already on Twitter to bash the ABC reporter who insinuated Tea Party links– Adam Serwer and Jay Rosen. Kudos to them.
P.P.S. Jake Tapper reports that Obama has cancelled a fundraiser later today due to the shooting and is speaking now about it. I will update this post as necessary, should the President address these baseless accusations against Rush and the Tea Party.
[Update] The Obama campaign has ordered all ads attacking Romney to be taken down, including by affiliates:
The president “feels this is the appropriate step on that front, and today we are focused on remembering the victims and finding out what happened,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who was traveling with Obama in Florida.
She also said the Obama campaign had “asked affiliates to pull down our contrast advertising for the time being. It takes time for stations to be able to do this, but we are making every effort.”
[Update II] Romney is pulling down all ads in Colorado “until further notice,” and will address the shootings at a campaign event. Both Ann Romney and First Lady Obama, as well as VP Biden, are off the campaign trail today due to the shooting.
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.
[Update IV] The President’s speech didn’t address the jumps to conclusions by anyone, but it was a largely good speech nonetheless, even if a few members of the audience were a bit raucous. And kudos to Media Matters for taking the classy road as well in a short statement on its Facebook page.