Still Crying Wolf: Fox's "Media Bias" Segment On Fuller Is Completely Bogus

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER, CHELSEA RUDMAN & MELODY JOHNSON

On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson and Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros accused the mainstream media of showing a "bias" by "ignoring" the story that Tucson shooting victim James Eric Fuller threatened a Tea Party leader at a town hall meeting. In fact, virtually every major media outlet covered the story immediately and repeatedly, including ABC, which Tantaros specifically singled out for attack.

Fox's Carlson Claims "We See No Coverage" Of Fuller Threatening Tea Party Leader

Carlson, Tantaros Accuse Media Of "Hypocrisy" For "Ignoring" Fuller's Threat. On the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson invited Fox News contributors Andrea Tantaros and Kirsten Powers to discuss whether or not the "mainstream media [is] ignoring" the story that Fuller allegedly threatened to kill a Tea Party leader in Tucson. Tantaros said the media is "absolutely" ignoring the story and further went on to falsely claim that "ABC [who was] covering this town hall" where the incident occurred "has yet to even report on it." From the broadcast:

CARLSON: He was wounded in the Arizona shooting massacre. But now James Eric Fuller is in trouble himself for allegedly threatening to kill Tucson tea party leader at a town hall meeting. So is the mainstream media ignoring this arrest? For a fair and balanced debate, we're joined by two of our Fox News contributors, Andrea Tantaros and Kirsten Powers. ... All right, Andrea, is the mainstream media ignoring this part of the story?

TANTAROS: Yeah, absolutely. This -- this guy, Eric Fuller, made the threat during a town hall that was hosted by Christiane Amanpour. So ABC was covering this town hall and has yet to even report on it. This guy threatened Trent Humphries, Arizona Tea Party leader, and now he's been committed for psychiatric evaluation. He actually screamed out a death threat. The media has yet to cover the story. And I've got to say, the Tucson massacre had to be one of the most unbelievable examples of media malpractice that we've seen, and it just continues on and on because this guy, as a Tea Party member, does not fit into their storyline.

CARLSON: Right.

TANTAROS: The mainstream media wants you to believe that the Tea Party is the one doing all the bad things.

CARLSON: Right, well --

TANTAROS: And now there's actually proof. And they turn the other way.

CARLSON: Kirsten, isn't this hypocrisy at its best, because the original accusations were actually that the Tea Party was instrumental in causing Loughner to do the shooting, and now you have somebody actually putting out death threats against a member of the Tea Party, and we see no coverage?

POWERS: Well, to say there's no coverage, I don't agree with, because I have -- I've heard about this. I know other places, you know, other than Fox, so there has been references to it. And I know that The Huffington Post posted even the interview that O'Reilly has referenced most recently where he said a lot of very deranged things, I would say. He seems to clearly be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or perhaps was mentally unstable prior to being shot. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 1/20/11]

But Media Outlets Across The Board Extensively Covered Fuller's Threat And Arrest

ABC Repeatedly Covered Fuller's Threat And Arrest, Including During Broadcast Of This Week Town Hall. Contrary to Tantaros' claim, ABC News repeatedly covered the story of Fuller's threat, arrest, and subsequent psychiatric evaluation. In fact, one of these segments took place during the January 16 edition of This Week, which featured the town hall where the threat took place. A Nexis search of ABC transcripts reveals at least three mentions of Fuller's threat and arrest in the days following the town hall.

From the January 16 edition of ABC's This Week:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (host): (Voiceover) As our town hall concluded, one of the victims of the shooting in our audience became agitated and was detained by security. James Eric Fuller, who was shot twice last Saturday, appeared to direct a threat towards a member of the Tea Party in our audience when he spoke. Fuller was charged with a misdemeanor and involuntarily committed according to the Pima County Sheriff's office. [ABC News' This Week, 1/16/11, accessed via Nexis]

ABC also covered the story during its January 16 broadcast of Good Morning America:

DAN HARRIS (anchor): (Off-camera) I also understand there was a, a tense moment in the hall. Can you tell us about that?

AMANPOUR: (Off-camera) Yes, indeed. One of the shooting victims from last week was in the hall. His name is James Eric Fuller. He had been shot but had been released from, from the hospital.

AMANPOUR: (Voiceover) He came to the town hall meeting. And at one point, he became quite agitated towards the end as the conversation was winding down. And he seemed to turn around and get upset about some of the comments being made by one of the Tea Party members in Phoenix there, and it looked like he was mumbling a threat. In any event, as the town hall meeting came to a close, he was arrested by the, by the, by the sheriff's deputies, charged with a misdemeanor and involuntarily committed. [ABC News' Good Morning America, 1/16/11]

ABC also covered the story during its January 16 broadcast of World News Sunday:

DAVID MUIR (anchor): (Off-camera) The town hall here in Tucson. And one more note about that arrest that followed the town hall we've been reporting on here.

(Voiceover) James Eric Fuller, who was shot twice outside the Safeway, he was arrested after authorities say he took a photo of a local Tea Party official in the audience, telling him, "You're dead." Tonight, officials say he has been involuntarily committed to receive a psychiatric exam. Meanwhile, that Tea Party official says this wasn't the only threat he's received. [ABC News' World News Sunday, 1/16/11, accessed via Nexis]

ABCNews.com: "Police Arrest Arizona Shooting Victim After Tea Party Member Threatened." ABC also covered the story on its website. [ABCNews.com, 1/16/11]

AP: "Ariz. Shooting Victim Makes Threats at Meeting." The Associated Press ran several stories on Fuller's threats and subsequent psychiatric evaluation. From a January 15 AP article:

In an unexpected twist to the Arizona shootings, a man wounded in the attack was arrested and taken in for a psychiatric exam after he yelled "You're dead!' at a political activist at town hall meeting, authorities say.

James Eric Fuller, 63, was detained on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges Saturday during the event taped for ABC's "This Week" television program, Pima County sheriff's spokesman Jason Ogan said. [AP, 1/15/11]

CBS Repeatedly Covered Fuller's Threat. A Nexis search of CBS transcripts reveals three segments covering Fuller's threat and arrest in the days following the event. [CBS Evening News, 1/16/11, 1/17/11; CBS News Sunday Morning, 1/16/11]

CBS/AP: "Arizona Shooting Victim ... Under Psychiatric Evaluation After Town Hall Outburst." A January 18 CBS/AP article on CBSNews.com noted that Fuller "remain[ed] under psychiatric evaluation following his arrest Saturday for threatening a Tea Party leader during a televised town hall meeting." [CBSNews.com, 1/18/11]

CNN Extensively Covered Fuller's Threat And Arrest. A Nexis search of CNN transcripts reveals at least 13 mentions of Fuller's alleged death threat and arrest. [CNN Newsroom, 1/15/11, 1/15/11, 1/16/11, 1/16/11, 1/18/11; Reliable Sources, 1/16/11, 1/16/11; Fareed Zakaria GPS, 1/16/11; CNN Sunday Morning, 1/16/11; Anderson Cooper 360, 1/17/11; The Situation Room, 1/17/11; American Morning, 1/17/11, 1/18/11, accessed via Nexis]

One of these references on CNN was made by Dana Loesch, editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart's blog Big Journalism, while discussing comments Sarah Palin made following the Tucson shootings. From the January 17 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

COOPER: I mean, [Sarah Palin] -- she seems unwilling to -- to apologize or back off about -- of anything. Do you think she's fair on that?

LOESCH: I do think that she's fair on that, Anderson, because it's -- this is exactly what you have.

We have a Tea Party organizer that received a death threat because of all -- you want to talk about rhetoric -- because of all of the things that are being said about conservatives and being said about Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin. [Anderson Cooper 360, 1/17/11]

Two of these 13 segments on Fuller's threat included CNN anchors interviewing Trent Humphries, the Tea Party leader witnesses say Fuller threatened. [CNN's John King, USA, 1/17/11; American Morning, 1/17/11]

LAT: "Shooting Victim Arrested, Accused Of Threat." On January 15, the Los Angeles Times published an article about Fuller's death threat and arrest:

A man who was wounded in last week's shooting rampage in Tucson was apprehended by authorities Saturday after he allegedly threatened a "tea party" activist at a town hall meeting of victims and eyewitnesses of the attack.

James Eric Fuller, a 63-year-old Democratic activist, was arrested after shouting "You're dead!" at Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries, said Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Ogan. Fuller was shot in the knee and back Jan. 8 when a gunman opened fire, killing six and injuring 13, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. [Los Angeles Times, 1/15/11]

MSNBC's Olbermann Covered Fuller's Arrest On Countdown: On the January 17 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann noted that Fuller was "quite appropriately, arrested, and removed for psychological evaluation." From the broadcast:

OLBERMANN: Shooting victim James Eric Fuller apologizing today for his outburst Saturday at which he told Tucson Tea Party cofounder Trent Humphries, quote, "You're dead." Fuller arrested after the incident, and rightly so, involuntary committed to a hospital for mental health evaluation. He gave a letter to the "Associated Press" via his girlfriend, calling his outburst, quote, "misplaced outrage."

Humphries today telling "Talking Points Memo" he`s not sure if Fuller is a threat to the community or not, but he is concerned is getting Fuller treatment for mental illness if he needs it.

[...]

On Saturday, in a decision smacking of the tawdriness of the Maury Povich Show, Mr. Fuller was seated in the first row of an NBC News -- ABC News Town Hall in Tucson -- with Mr. Humphries of the Tea Party on the stage. When Humphries suggested talk of gun control be deferred until after all the victims were buried, Mr. Fuller stood up and started to shout at Humphries, quote, "you're dead."

Mr. Fuller was, quite appropriately, arrested, and removed for psychological evaluation. He has today apologized, and Mr. Humphries has said he does not feel threatened necessarily, and wants Fuller to get mental help. [MSNBC, Countdown, [[0]]1/17/2010, accessed via Nexis]

NYT: "Man Shot in Tucson Rampage Is Arrested At A TV Taping." In an article posted the same day as the shooting, January 15, The New York Times covered Fuller's death threat and arrest:

A victim of the shooting spree here that killed six people and wounded 13, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was arrested Saturday after he spoke threateningly at a televised forum intended to help this stricken city heal, the police and witnesses said.

The man, J. Eric Fuller, 63, a military veteran who supports Ms. Giffords, was involuntarily committed for a 72-hour mental health evaluation, said Jason Ogan, a spokesman for the Pima County sheriff's office.

[...]

[Republican State Representative Terri] Proud said she spoke up to clarify the bill's language. Trent Humphries, the founder of the Tucson Tea Party, who was sitting one row behind her, rose to speak and suggested that discussion about gun legislation be postponed until after the funerals.

He started to say that he had also been affected by the tragedy because a neighbor was a victim.

At that point, Ms. Proud said, Mr. Fuller blurted out to Mr. Humphries, "You're dead." [The New York Times, 1/15/11]

The Times' political blog The Caucus also covered Fuller's threat and arrest on January 15. [The Caucus, nytimes.com, 1/15/11]

NPR Site Includes At Least Three AP Stories On Fuller's Death Threat. NPR's website published at least three Associated Press stories about Fuller's death threat against Humphries in the days following the event. [NPR.org, 1/15/11, 1/16/11, 1/16/11]

Reuters: "Tucson Shooting Victim Arrested After Making Threat," "Shooting Victim Ordered Away From Tea Party Leader." Reuters published at least three articles about Fuller's threat. [Reuters, 1/16/11, 1/16/11 1/19/11] In addition to two articles about Fuller's arrest and detainment, Reuters also published an article on January 19 including the update that "[Fuller]...was ordered by a judge on Tuesday to keep his distance from a local Tea Party leader he was accused of threatening over the weekend." From that article:

A victim wounded in the January 8 shooting spree in Arizona was ordered by a judge on Tuesday to keep his distance from a local Tea Party leader he was accused of threatening over the weekend.

The protective order obtained by Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries against James Eric Fuller stems from a confrontation between the two men during Saturday's taping of a town hall edition of the ABC News program "This Week." [Reuters, 1/19/11]

WaPo: "Arizona Shooting Victim Arrested At Forum." The Washington Post published one online article and one print article, as well as an AP article, on Fuller's threat and arrest. [The Washington Post, 1/15/11, 1/16/11; AP, 1/16/11]

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Fox News Channel
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Gretchen Carlson, Andrea Tantaros
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FOX & Friends
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