Several mainstream print and online outlets failed to properly and consistently contextualize the Club Q shooting as coming amid an aggressive and violent anti-LGBTQ campaign, instead framing the attack as an isolated case of gun violence.
Right-wing media, politicians, and social media figures have repeatedly targeted drag shows and hospitals providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth with threats, harassment, and suggestions of violence.
In the last month alone, right-wing outlets have claimed drag queens are sexualizing children, victim-blamed trans folks for their own murders, and called for doctors who provide gender-affirming care to be arrested for providing care that they have likened to Nazi experiments.
Observers have warned about the very real threats of violence emerging from this unchecked rhetoric, and the shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has only validated those concerns. Now, some of the same mainstream outlets that have platformed those concerns have failed to draw the connection on their own, even as the shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Some mainstream media outlets have neglected to acknowledge the connection between the shooting and anti-LGBTQ campaigns by the right, seemingly treating the incident as an ordinary example of gun violence in this country:
- Instead of contextualizing the shooting within the ongoing anti-LGBTQ crusade by right-wing extremists, CNN referred to the shooting as “another crime scene in a country that has suffered an average of two mass shootings every day this year.” The outlet chose to focus on mass shootings and assault weapon bans — while also important, it is not the only necessary context here.
- An ABC News article outlining the efforts of the heroic veteran who took down the shooter failed to acknowledge any role that anti-LGBTQ sentiment may have played in the incident.
- USA Today lauded the Colorado Springs Police Department for identifying each victim with the correct name and pronouns. Despite the clear acknowledgement that the victims were likely to be queer or trans, the article failed to mention the violence faced by the LGBTQ community.
- HuffPost also correctly identified the victims but did not mention the ongoing right-wing hate campaign against LGBTQ people.
- In a CNN article titled “What we know about the suspect in the Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub shooting,” the outlet did not tie right-wing rhetoric or legislation to the Club Q incident.
- NPR quoted several officials who referred to Club Q as a “safe haven” but failed to explain that the need for such spaces is a direct result of attacks against the LGBTQ community from right-wing extremists.
- The Washington Post penned over 2,500 words on the attack, dedicating zero to the broader issue of right wing-fueled hatred for the LGBTQ community.
By contrast, some outlets did include the context of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric when reporting on the Club Q shooting and called out specific individuals who have promoted it:
- The Daily Beast called out Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) role in stoking anti-LGBTQ hate and specifically highlighted her history of “vociferously pushing homophobic rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ policies.”
- The New York Times published two lengthy articles illustrating the sustained harassment and threats facing drag shows and queer spaces; however, the paper failed to make the same connection in its lead reporting.
- An article from The Washington Post dutifully connected the Club Q shooting to right-wing attacks on the LGBTQ community while also giving credence to the concerns long expressed by advocates.