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When there's breaking news, especially about terrorism and national security, ABC News' Brian Ross is there. And under no circumstances should you listen to anything he says. His latest breathtakingly reckless report: Some Tea Party guy on the internet has the same name as the Dark Knight Rises shooter, so, you know, they have the same name. So there you go. Tea Party.
As Mediaite has noted, not long after authorities released the shooter's incredibly common name, James Holmes, Ross ran it through his extensive network of plugged-in sources (Google) and came up with this nugget, which he relayed, live on the air, to Good Morning America's millions and millions of viewers:
George Stephanopoulos: I want to go to Brian Ross here, because Brian you've been investigating the background of Jim Holmes and you found something that might be significant....
Brian Ross: There's a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.
OK then! There's some guy on the internet with the same name. That is literally all Ross had—no other connection, not one reason to even remotely suspect that it's the same Holmes. Just that there is a guy with that name, on the internet.
That astonishingly stupid speculation led the geniuses at Breitbart to rebut the calumny with their own guy-named-James-Holmes, this one a registered Democrat. So there! "There are certainly more facts in our documents than in ABC News' irresponsible speculations," Joel Pollak wrote, hilariously and maddeningly.
This is on top of Ross' previous breaking-news blunders: There was the time he falsely connected the 2001 anthrax attacks to Iraq; the time he described the Ft. Hood shooter's emails to Anwar al Awlaki—which the FBI knew about and regarded as related to his medical research—as attempts to "reach out" to "people associated with Al Qaeda"; and the time he falsely reported that one of the planners of the Christmas underwear bombing was a former Guantanamo detainee (the guy happened to be in Saudi custody at the time). And then, of course, there was the time he hyped the Toyota Death Machine story by passing off staged footage of a parked Toyota revving its engines as a runaway automobile.
Point being: Never, ever listen to anything Ross reports unless and until it has been confirmed by another, better, reporter.
UPDATE: ABC News has appended an editor's note to its online coverage of the massacre confirming that the Colorado Tea Party Jim Holmes and the mass murderer James Holmes are not the same person, and apologizing for the error.
Editor's Note: 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.