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October 9, 2017

Breaking Speculation!

Jason Miller

Like many of you, I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted by the shooting in Las Vegas. This mass shooting was a cold and calculated massacre that should remind all of us that evil lurks in our midst.


The motive of the shooter has taken center stage in the national commentary on the matter. Many of the talking heads pontificate from the safety of their network bubbles claiming to have put it all together.


This is to be expected given the quality of recent reporting. In a bygone time, this was called gossip. Today it’s called mainstream opinionated journalism.


Human being are curious creatures. We are compelled to explain what vexes. The basic human condition in critical thinking is healthy skepticism in the face of a basic theory. When this very quality in human nature is coupled with a societal demand for instant gratification, delusional thinking and impatient conclusions are drawn before all the facts are gathered.


As individuals, many of us take to social media to promote the crisis de jour in honest speculative outrage without any tangible factual discovery.


Instances of this are evident in the coverage of the Las Vegas shooting by the mainstream media. Tables are prepared for experts to talk about the shooting at length, yet absent is the reason for which their opinion matters.


Think about this. Talking heads appear on a three-minute segment to fill airtime but short of being a contributor to a network, what is their valid reason for offering their opinion? Absent from many are the credentials that give their thoughts value. The embarrassment of printing or making a statement of retraction by media outlets has reverted to the practice of the opinionated disclaimer.


Media coverage of the Las Vegas massacre began in earnest after the first shots were fired. As the day progressed, many of the cable news talking heads pontificated on the motive. ISIS took credit, but that motive was challenged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Conservatives and progressives took to Twitter and Facebook to declare victimhood in a wide range of piggybacked grievances loosely linked to the shooting itself.


Many conservative and progressive opinion journalists started to feed the partisan beasts, eagerly awaiting reference to gun control. All eyes were waiting for President Donald Trump to respond to the shooting the next day, yet all aspects of the crime had yet to present themselves then and continue to be gathered by police.


All last week speculation became the norm as scary language and hypotheticals from both right and left began to replace rational reporting. Such is the nature in the quest for ratings. Those of us who wanted to wait, and who urged patience for all the facts to come in, were said to be in a state of denial as to the event we saw and heard with our own eyes and ears.


The cascade of “the shooter could have” entered our ears and ears on both the television and the radio. Our social media outlets linked us to even more sensational hypotheticals based on what was clicked on moments before. The chorus of “what if” began.


Here are just a few examples of what I’ve seen and heard in recent days.


The shooter could have targeted a country music venue because the shooter hated Trump supporters.


What if he had progressive ties like the shooter who attacked the Republican baseball team?


The shooter could have been mentally ill?


What if the drugs he was said to have been taking caused a mental collapse?


Was the shooter a radical Islamic jihadist?


What if he was not a lone wolf after all and is instead part of a larger domestic jihadist network.


Was the shooter an alt-right zealot and, if so, what if this is a follow up assault similar to the Charlottesville attack?


This became common practice on almost every cable news outlet all last week.


The worse hypothetical of them all from my perspective was provided by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She tweeted on October 2nd: “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”


The truth is that Secretary Clinton doesn’t have the slightest idea of the number of deaths that a “silencer” would have caused. The problem with Mrs. Clinton’s statement was that it was pure conjecture. No one can honestly respond to the question she is asking. She also craftily linked the National Rifle Association to the shooters actions with her hypothetical with no credible link.


Secretary Clinton then told Jimmy Fallon on October 5th that “I can’t believe that one whole political party in the greatest country on earth is totally sold to the gun lobby.” That is a very broad brush that she paints the GOP with. The sad part of this situation is that the media outlets picked this up as a form of legitimate criticism toward the NRA.


Here is a more pointed couple of questions to ponder. Could it be that most GOP members, like myself, view the Second Amendment with as much reverence as the First Amendment? Are all Republicans members of the NRA? Does membership in the NRA preclude one from rational thought?


As a Republican and an NRA member, I can say that I am not the mindless drone as suggested by Secretary Clinton. In the absence of solid evidence, I can assure her, and everyone else, that the NRA is not out to pave the streets with blood. In the quest for relevance, or for ratings, some find it beneficial to break gossip as fact and conjecture as truth. I am content to let the sheriff in Las Vegas tell me his thoughts and findings from his investigation because his credentials are the only ones that matter in this case.


I would prefer the results of an investigation rather than a barrage of speculation on what the results could be.

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