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CampaignUSA 2012: Twelve Killed at 'Dark Knight' Screening in Colorado, Candidates React, More | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

CampaignUSA 2012: Twelve Killed at 'Dark Knight' Screening in Colorado, Candidates React, More

A new daily blog, updated often, covering news and controversy across a wide range of races and issues. As author of three books about influential US campaigns (see here), I also bring historical perspective to this. You can bookmark the daily blog by going here.

9:45 A DAY LATE? Piers Morgan shouts at pro–gun rights guest who said today is not the time to talk about gun control: You’re right, he says, Yesterday was the day. Angry. Now “today is the day to act.”

9:10 AMMO ON DEMAND Police chief in another press conference just now lowers casualties to seventy from seventy-one. Says suspect purchased startling 6,000 rounds of ammunition "over the Internet." (Hey, this is America.) Still not moving on booby-trapped apartment… Suspect left medical school “voluntarily.” Nothlng else new. Loner. Chief says sheriff asked if he wanted to release new photo. He declined… Expired federal assault weapons ban would have covered purchase by gunman.

9:00 THE PHANTOM NYT says James Holmes a rarity for young person today—kind of a "phantom" with no Internet "footprint" found so far… Roger Ebert op-ed: “We’ve seen this movie before.” Comments: “That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands.”

6:00 MOVIE (TRAILER) PULLED CNN and others report film studio Warner Bros. pulls trailer for upcoming Ryan Gosling film Gangster Squad running before Dark Knight and other films. It shows shoot-out in crowded movie theater. Amazingly, when I went to find it at YouTube, all of the versions—a couple of dozen—were now blocked by YouTube (studio obviously asked). Studio not saying if scene will remain in film… Theaters banning people wearing “costumes” to Dark Knight… I predict attendance will go down only a little this weekend. James Holmes already added to the gross—bought a ticket, then propped open exit door.

5:35 NOT A JOKE CNN claims it has confirmed that James Holmes indeed had dyed his hair red and called himself “The Joker.” As we pointed out earlier, The Joker’s hair is actually green. But the guy was crazy, so there you go.

5:05 SHOCKER: BREITBART SITE WRONG Like ABC, Breitbartians now seem to admit, somewhat, that their “finding” that the shooter was a “registered Democrat” seems to be wrong. No apology, though, which ABC at least did after linking guy to Tea Party. Poynter slaps both outlets here

5:00 MORE UPDATES Situation now under control: Anderson Cooper has landed in Colorado… Police confirm the four guns were purchased in May, June and July… I mentioned that Holmes had song playing loudly on repeat in his apartmentat time of shooting and suggested what it was might be a message. Now CNN reports it was “techno” and might have merely been to get police to go into booby-trapped apartment.

4:10 POLLING ON GUN CONTROL Here’s a roundup in one place of numerous recent polls. What they usually show may surprise you: (1) By narrow margin, Americans want stronger gun control laws and/or stronger enforcement. It’s narrow but usually real. You’d never know this from most media coverage. (2) They favor by wide margin total assault rifle ban except for police. (3) Democrats are very strongly for more gun control, GOPers, of course, not. All of this makes Dem timidity on issue all the more disgraceful. One more thing: I am always surprised by polls that find at least four in ten people say someone in their own house owns a gun. Think about that.

4:00 PARENTING A friend just posted piece at the Motherlode blog at the NYT: “Here is the thing: These shootings, they are not accidents, not random events. The children of Aurora, like the children in Columbine, died because we don’t value our sons and daughters enough to do something about the proliferation of guns—both legal and illegal—in American life.”

3:30 FIRST TRACING OF GUNS Jake Tapper tweets that ABC has found: “firearms legally purchased at Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain Guns within the last several months, 1st one in May.” Here’s the Gander Mountain site. NBC with same report. But we’ve long known that psychotics can easily get guns… Tina DuPuy tweets: “Still waiting for an armed citizen to thwart a mass shooting somewhere other than in their fantasies”… Dana Bash on CNN: Obama and Dems will say nothing about “gun control,” have “too much to lose.”

3:05 MORE UPDATES TV coverage spinning wheels now with nothing new. One good thing just now on CNN: mayor of Philly, Democrat, asked why his party does nothing about gun control when poll shows Democrats want it (72 percent of GOPers do not)… LA Times with weak claim of getting into background of shooter—based on sketchy interviews with a couple classmates from high school who say, you know, he was quiet. Was on cross-country team. Somewhat more relevant: may have had trouble getting a job after college so returned to school. But that’s so common. And going to school was for…neuroscience PhD.

2:30 MORE UPDATES Report: Warner Bros. considering cancellation of all Dark Knight screenings for now. “Executives at the Hollywood studio were gathered at the Burbank offices from the middle of the night, struggling with whether to alter roll-out plans for the second-biggest release in movie history.” But I think big jump from “considering” to “doing”… Congressman for Aurora district calls suspect on TV “psychotic son of a bitch”…

2:05 POLICE PRESS CONFERENCE IN COLORADO Confirms name of suspect, age. Only criminal history one traffic violation, as reported. “Apprehended outside white Hyundai.” Had assault rifle, Glock, shotgun, believe used “at the scene.” No idea how many rounds. Now updating to 71 shot (not 50), 12 dead. Ignited two devices. Not looking for any other suspects. Was wearing “ballistic” helmet, vest, “groin protector.” On his apartment: booby-trapped “with various incendiary devices and explosives and trip wires” that could take days to clear. Warns people and media of a lot of “pranks” via web and social media. Cops arrested him without protest within two minutes. No off-duty cops there last night, though have been there in past. Won’t discuss motive.

1:35 MORE UPDATES Headline and link next to main Denver Post story on shootings: Movie review: Dark Knight Rises a fitting finale for Batman trilogyNYT review this morning had called film amazingly “well-timed”… Police press conference about to start… Colorado governor at press conf: “This is a safe state, a safe city, a safe country.” Just one “deranged” guy. Right.

1:10 SUSPECT A ‘JOKER’? From NYT: “New York City Police Commissiner Raymond W. Kelly said the suspect in the shootings had red-painted hair that resembled the character ‘The Joker’ from the Batman comics and movies. Mr. Kelly was speaking outside New York’s Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan but did not offer how he knew about the suspect’s appearance.” But said to be tight with Aurora chief. Update: but the Joker’s hair normally greenish…

12:55 GOPNIK ON GUNS Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker not afraid to go there: “The truth is made worse by the reality that no one—really no one—anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life. That includes the President, whose consoling message managed to avoid the issue of why these killings take place…. Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night—as they will when it happens again. And it will happen again.” Refers to “the blood lobby.” Points out other countries suffer massaces, one or two, but then move to stop them. “Not America.”

12:15 PHOTO OF SUSPECT RELEASED University of Colo releases photo of Holmes the alleged shooter—dark hair, smiling, not bad looking, average… Suspect had two Glocks, a big shotgun and assault weapon. Still tracing when and where purchased. None restricted in Colorado and no limit on number, of course… NYT video report on shootings…Detail: Holmes’ medical school training was in neurosciences… His family releases statement offering sympathy to victims, asking for privacy, say they are “cooperating” with police.

11:50 SUSPECT’S SONG This will be fascinating to watch. Tenant at apartment building where shooter lived (a pharmacy student) says he had called police at 12:30 am today—at time of shooting—to complain about loud music coming from stereo in suspect’s place. Song was “on repeat” but he could not recognize it. Since gunman told police to go to apartment after arrest (it may be boobytrapped) it seems likely that this song, on repeat, carries a “message.”

11:40 ABC APOLOGIZES From Politico: “ABC News and Brian Ross are apologizing for an ‘incorrect’ report that James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting, may have had connections to the Tea Party. ‘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 said in a statement. ‘ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.’ ”

11:20 UPDATES ON SHOOTING Spokeswoman for suspect’s parents (she is from police dept.) live outside their home in San Diego. Confirms he went to high school in San Diego, recently school in Colorado. No info on motive or anything or shooting… Pentagon says some of victims in the military, shooter not a vet… Denver Post reporter on CNN just now says when Holmes filled out his apartment form he described himself as “quiet” and a “student.” Had lived in Riverside, CA. Says Holmes preparations “methodical” like the two Columbine killers… AP confirms: University of Colo. Med School says shooting suspect was student there but withdrew last month… Police confirm suspect’s apartment is indeed booby-trapped.

10:45 OBAMA ON SHOOTINGS President at campaign stop in Florida right now on “senseless” tragedy. Unites America, he says. Victims’ dreams “not yet fulfilled.” “If there’s anything to take from this tragedy it’s that life is precious.” Yet no mention of easy access to guns. Could be talking about hurricane hitting. “My daughters go to the movies. What if they had been in that theater? Michelle and I will hug our daughters tightly.” Obama thanks crowd for their support but will cut it short. “There will be other days for politics. This a day for reflection.”

His campaign has asked TV affiliates to pull all of his attack ads. Romney camp says it has made same request to Colorado stations.

10:40 MORE UPDATES ON SHOOTING Here’s 2009 article on how NRA killed tougher gun laws in Colorado after Columbine (h/t Richard Kim)… Gun nuts already blaming theater for being a “gun-free zone”… Police say alleged shooter’s only run-in with local police was traffic ticket last year. Not on any extremist lists so far. No motive given yet. Had Tennessee plates on car. Apartment owned by parents in San Diego, sources say. … Breitbart site naturally “reporting” that suspect “may be” registered Democrat… Tweet by M.S. Bellows Jr.: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That’s why blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers are just as lethal as US Navy SEALs.”

10:10 MORE UPDATES ON SHOOTING Politicians, including congressman for Aurora district, refuse to condemn access to AK-47s, just wonder if this young man should not have gotten because maybe “crazy”—if normal, no prob….NYC Mayor Bloomberg at least calling on Obama and Romney to toughen gun control stances….Fears of copy cat shooting rise. Will be interesting to chart Dark Knight and other movie attendance today… Suspect’s apartment might be “booby-trapped,” still not cleared.

9:55 MORE UPDATES ON SHOOTING Anthony Lane, film critic for The New Yorker, looks at last two villains in “Dark Knight” series: “Both men are indiscriminate in their use of violence, and find only pleasure, or the thrill of power, in the taking—whether random or carefully planned—of human lives. And so the thought arises: were the terrible events in Aurora suggested, aided, or in any way inspired by matching events onscreen?” He does not go that far but does say that the fact this was the movie “event” of the season probably spurred gunman, knowing thousands in theater complex. Also notes the “fevered” reaction to film, with film critics threatened over negative reviews.

9:35 MORE UPDATES ON SHOOTING: NBC’s Chuck Todd: “Pres. Obama will address the Aurora tragedy in Ft. Myers this morning then he’ll cut short rest of FL trip and head back to WH.” Don’t hold your breath for any mention of easy access to guns….Awaiting call to arm teenage movie ticket takers and ushers…. at least 4 still critical…. Awaiting gun nuts to say, as per usual, “He could have killed just as many with a knife or club or maybe angry stare”…Youngest victim, not seriously hurt: 3-month-old baby. Allowed in such a movie? … Final tweets of one victim, an aspiring sportscaster.

9:15 MORE UPDATES ON MASS SHOOTING: MOTHER OF SUSPECT NYT: “A San Diego woman who identified herself as James Holmes’s mother told ABC News she had awoken unaware of the shooting and had not yet been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved. “You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on gut instinct. “I need to call the police.… I need to fly out to Colorado.”… FBI expert on CNN says “unfortunately” all guns and gas cannisters “readily” available… Just last week “Newsroom” focused on Gabby Giffords shooting—and Obama’s “F” (failing) rating from gun control group.

9:00 UPDATES ON DARK KNIGHT MASSACRE No details on shooter but feds ID as white male James Holmes, according to Denver Post.…He used at least two rifles and also had two handguns…Search for explosives in suspect’s apartment yields nothing… Bodies still in theater, but death toll holding at twelve and injured thirty-eight… One gun was an AK-47 (easy to obtain, of course)….Child, age 6, injured—kids that young allowed at this violent movie?… Candidates condemn “senseless” shooting but what’s “senseless” is easy access to assault rifles.

8:00 am 12 KILLED AT DARK KNIGHT SCREENING It makes all the jokes, and controversy, over the “Bane” villain in the new Batman Dark Knight Rises thriller seem lame, as at least twelve slaughtered in a suburban Denver movie theater overnight (and fifty hurt) after a young man, age 24, opens fire. He is in custody. Man—wearing the usual flak or camouflage jacket—opened fire at start of shooitng scene in movie, after using tear gas. Girl, 9, carried from scene. Blog updates at NYT. President Obama and Mitt Romney both issue statements, although neither reference guns or gun control. Took place twenty-five miles from Columbine. Screening canceled in Paris. Video below:

KRUGMAN ON THE ‘PATHOS OF THE PLUTOCRATS’ From Paul’s new NYT column: “Clearly, Mr. Romney believed that he could run for president while remaining safe inside the plutocratic bubble and is both shocked and angry at the discovery that the rules that apply to others also apply to people like him. [F. Scott] Fitzgerald again, about the very rich: ‘They think, deep down, that they are better than we are.’”

LOST AT SEA Ann Romney yesterday said we don’t need to know about the family’s finances, so Jon with Part II of alleged excerpts from the Romney tax returns he says the show has obtained. Has Mitt stashed money offshore on the island from “Lost”? .

 

MORNING SHORTS NYT covers fun new problem for that Romney fundraising trip to London—he’s being hosted by folks now tied to banking scandals there involving Barclay’s, HSBC and so on….Andy Borowitz: “When Tea Partyers say, ‘I want my country back,’ ask if they can identify it on a map.”… 23 consumer brands that are bankrolling rightwing attack ads….WIth all the talk of Michele Bachmann & “McCarthyism” today, you might check out the real thing in new edition of my “Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady” book.

From late Thursday

Ms. KNOPE GOES TO WASHINGTON Our favorite localcandidate / public offiical of all, Leslie Knope of Pawnee, Ind., paid a surprise visit to the White House yesterday and today—shooting the premiere episode for the upcoming season of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Here’s a full report on Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Aubry Plaza and the gang shooting in D.C. “According to TV Guide, Senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe will make cameos in the episode. President Obama revealed at a March fundraiser that his oldest daughter Malia is a big fan’ of the show.”

WEST SETTING IN SUNSHINE STATE? NYT just posted big piece on lunatic, Red-baiting Rep. Allen West of Florida, pointing out that while he has become a right-wing darling he is running in a new “swing” district and so faces problems. “Mr. West is likely to face Patrick Murphy, 30, a Democrat and political neophyte who is shaping up to be a potent force. Democrats are banking that in a presidential election year, Mr. West will fail to sway enough independent-minded voters to win in November. They view the newly created 18th Congressional District on the Treasure Coast as one of six possible Democratic gains in Florida. Impressed with Mr. Murphy’s fund-raising—he is one of the top fund-raisers among Democratic challengers in the country—the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put its financial and organizational strength behind him.”

CLIMATE CHANGE HEATING UP AS ISSUE? Any chance anyone will actually care in this year’s campaigns? Everyone from Mark Bittman (in NYT) to Bill McKibben (in Rolling Stone) with important pieces today. And MoveOn promoting this amazing “Save the Arctic” video featuring Radiohead, Jude Law—and a homeless polar bear wandering around London.

YOU TUBE CAVES ON ‘AL GREEN’ APPEAL We noted earlier this week that YouTube had quickly removed a Romney attack ad that featured Obama’s splendid snippet from Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” The music rights group BMG had protested. Behind the scenes the Romney camp appealed to YouTube and today won and Barack/Al is back. They had earlier posted the ad at Vimeo just in case. Here it is again:

MOVEON ENDORSES The grassroots group announces its picks for a few key Senate contests—Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Mazie Hirono in Hawaii. Earlier they backed Elizabth Warren in Massachusetts and Chris Murphy in Connecticut. More to come, of course. “Tammy, Sherrod, and Mazie are some of the most passionate fighters for the 99% in Washington today,” MoveOn’s campaign director, Daniel Mintz, said in a statement. “If we send Sherrod back to the Senate this year, and elect Tammy and Mazie to join him, working families all across the country will be able to sleep easier, knowing they have leaders who are fighting for them—not for special interests—in our nation’s capital.”

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