Dereliction: A Constant Stream of Media Misinformation in Conn. Shooting

-By Warner Todd Huston

The Old Media establishment has done a disservice to an American public heartbroken over the murders at a Connecticut grade school by reporting untrue “facts” over and over again and by using emotionally tinged phrases that do not relay fact but instead push an agenda.

Here are just a few of the badly garbled “facts” in this story that the media rushed to “report” before any truth was put to them.

Of course, the very first major mix up was the shooter’s name. All across the Old Media the shooter was reported as “Ryan Lanza.” However, within hours we discovered that Ryan was the killer’s brother and the killer’s name is Adam.

Also from the beginning, the murderer was reported as having strode through the school with a .223-caliber rifle, often referred to by the media here as an “assault weapon.” This also turned out to be untrue. In fact, he only had handguns with him in the school, not any “assault rifle.” He did have a rifle but it was left in his car and not carried into the school.
(Addendum: And the “news” is still shifting back and forth about what guns this murderer had, what he used, what he left in the car… they still can’t get it right.)

Many media outlets reported that the school principal, and a victim of the murderer, was the one that let the shooter into the building. But it turned out that the killer broke glass to gain access to the school. He wasn’t buzzed-in by the principal as was reported and there is no evidence he was recognized by anyone working at the school and allowed in as a result.

Lanza is also being said to have been wearing “combat gear.” What does this even mean? Some reports say it was a black shirt, or maybe some sort of vest and “possibly a mask.” Is a black shirt somehow automatically “combat gear,” now? This “combat gear” claim, though universally picked up by the Old Media as a description of Lanza’s appearance, is meaningless without any actual listing of that “gear.” What does “combat gear” even mean, here? We have no idea. But it sure sounds menacing, eh? Quite emotional. Whatever he was actually wearing, this descriptive term was used before any hard facts were known.

The killer’s mother was also reported to have been a teacher at the school and found dead on the premises. That also turned out to be untrue. The killer’s mother was found dead in her home and it appears she was not connected to the school. Her name does not appear on the school’s list of teachers. She may have been a substitute teacher, but even that isn’t clear. But the Old Media definitively reported that she was a teacher and was killed inside the school.

Some reporters are calling the killer’s mother an “avid gun collector.” There is no basis for this label. It is an emotional phrase meant to make the deceased mother into some “gun nut.” In truth there is no public knowledge about how many guns she owned and whether or not she considered herself a “collector.” She may have been, of course, but we just don’t have any knowledge to say so.

It was also reported that on December 11 Adam Lanza was “denied the ability” to buy a rifle he wanted to purchase at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Danbury, Connecticut. But this is also untrue. It appears that what actually happened is that Lanza wanted to buy a rifle and then take it immediately from the store. The store informed the killer that the state has a waiting period and because of that the killer walked out of the store without completing the purchase.

The latter fact actually proves that the waiting period works as intended. A person that wanted to go kill someone on the spur of the moment and in the heat of a passion of sorts could not buy a gun and then immediately walk out of the store with it.

Still, Lanza was not “denied” the opportunity to buy the rifle. He decided not to finish the purchase. So, the media is wrong to say he was denied the ability to buy the gun.

Other pertinent facts have also been left out of this story. With the renewed call for “strict gun laws,” it should be noted that Conn. already has bans on guns in schools. It is a felony to carry a gun on school property if you have no concealed carry permit, and local school boards have even been given the power to tell concealed carry license holders that they haven’t a right to carry in their district. Local school districts have the power to deny a permit holder his right to carry.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Connecticut has the fifth strictest gun laws in the nation. The strict gun laws didn’t stop the killing just as in the case with a long list of similar killings in foreign countries that also have strict gun banning laws.

Yet, with dozens of reports on this crime, the Old Media sneaks in phrases such as this incident “renews calls for gun control” without noting that the state already has such laws in place.

Naturally, every “news” outlet is screeching about “assault weapons,” too. But the fact is there is no such thing as an assault weapon. It has neither a legal nor a logical definition. Every gun is literally an “assault weapon.” Further any military rifle can be made to look like a civilian rifle and vice versa. There just isn’t any such thing as an assault weapon and the media’s constant use of the term relays no meaningful information to the news consumer.

In all, the Old Media has badly mauled the facts in reporting this case. With their rush to be first, the facts were deemed less important.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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