As federal prosecutors charged Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo with the murder of a federal security officer Tuesday, many news organizations explored his ties to the violent and extremist “boogaloo” movement. In contrast to this detailed coverage, which was also featured in the CBS and NBC corporate broadcast evening news shows, ABC’s World News Tonight on Tuesday failed to mention Carrillo’s extremist ties.
Carrillo and an accomplice are accused of the May 29 killing of David Patrick Underwood, a security officer at a federal courthouse in Oakland, California, while protests against police brutality were going on nearby. Carrillo was already in custody as the suspect in the killing of a Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputy earlier in June when the new federal charges were announced on June 16. He reportedly had a patch of the boogaloo movement’s flag and used his own blood to paint phrases related to the movement before his arrest.
The boogaloo movement has its roots in far-right online message boards and has been described as “an anti-government movement that advocates for a violent uprising” that “wants a second Civil War.” Speaking to The Daily Beast, Anti-Defamation League investigative researcher Alex Friedfeld said the movement is “inherently a violent ideology.” Multiple supporters of the movement have been arrested for alleged acts of violence, such as attempting to murder a police officer in Texas and attempting to “commit an act of terrorism” during protests in Las Vegas, Nevada. Multiple outlets have reported that boogaloo supporters and other white supremacist groups have been posing as “antifa,” or anti-fascist activists, on the internet in order to sow chaos and violence during recent demonstrations. Members of the movement have also been spotted carrying guns at the protests.
On Tuesday night, ABC’s corporate competitors provided some of these details as they reported on the charges against Carrillo. CBS Evening News reported that members of the boogaloo movement are “loosely affiliated extremists” and “some of them believe in sparking a civil war.” NBC Nightly News reported that Carrillo is “accused of being part of a growing white supremacist group” and referenced the boogaloo plot against protests in Las Vegas.
But ABC’s World News Tonight had none of those details in its report on the charges against Carrillo.
That was all the detail ABC News offered in its report on Carrillo’s case -- with no mention of his ties to a growing and violent extremist group, or that group’s involvement in other violent plots. ABC’s viewers were left completely in the dark about this important context.
There has been at least one other time in which ABC’s World News Tonight failed to cover the extremism of someone it was reporting on -- an August 2016 report on Stephen Bannon joining President Donald Trump’s campaign. At that time, again, both of ABC’s corporate broadcast news competitors highlighted Bannon’s history of anti-immigrant and nationalist rhetoric, underscoring ABC’s failure to provide adequate information about growing far-right extremism to its viewers.