We now know that the alleged gunman in Friday's shooting spree in Colorado Springs said "no more baby parts" upon his arrest. That's inconvenient for Twitter conservatives, who spent a portion of Friday desperately hoping that a shooting at a Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood or opposition to legal abortion.
Initially, it was legitimately difficult to know for sure what was happening and why. It wasn't fully clear whether the shooter was at the clinic or merely near it. A lot still needed to be sorted out. But not everyone was particularly charitable about it:
Although it's fine to caution the media to refrain from speculating in haste, it's another thing entirely to accuse journalists of attempting to enforce a specific, slanted narrative. But some did just that readily.
To be fair, some early news reports definitely suggested that Planned Parenthood was not the target of the attack:
But the notion that the gunman was specifically motivated by the existence of Planned Parenthood was far from idle speculation. Colorado Springs has long been a hotbed for anti-abortion rights activists, including their more violent varietals, and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has historically been a target of anti-abortion militants. Concluding that there was a link between the gunman and the anti-abortion movement may have been premature, but it was near the blade of Occam's razor.
At some point, the tenor of anti-abortion conservatives' stance shifted from "the media should not speculate" to "the media's speculation needs to conform to our specific needs and wants and insecurities."
Twitter's armchair media critics had moments they'd go on to regret:
Some seemed taken in by initial reports that the shooting was happening at a nearby bank:
Others experienced a range of disposable emotions:
Others insisted that we remember the real victims:
Some owned up to their mistakes and apologized:
Investigators have so far been oddly reluctant to make a connection between the shooter's "baby parts" comment and anti-abortion motives. But at least one anti-abortion rights organization is eager to dispel any suggestion that its rhetoric could have inspired the attack:
David Daleiden, who produced the shocking videos showing Planned Parenthood abortion clinics selling aborted babies and their body parts, strongly condemned the shooting.
“The Center for Medical Progress does not support vigilante violence against abortion providers. There are people at Planned Parenthood who I still consider friends and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this time for no one to be injured.”
“We only visited the Denver clinic in Colorado. PPRM CEO Vicki Cowart says Planned Parenthood still doesn’t know the full details of what is going on in Colorado Springs.”
Maybe this would be a good time to dust off that old Department of Homeland Security report, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."