Some in the media reacted to the killing spree in Isla Vista, California that claimed the lives of six victims with offensive or bizarre commentary.
On May 23, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed three people in his house with blunt or sharp objects before driving to a sorority house near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Outside that house he shot three women, killing two. He then shot to death a young man at a nearby convenience store. Rodger reportedly committed suicide with one of his guns, but not before killing six people and wounding 13 others.
Much attention has focused on a video uploaded by Rodger on YouTube where he describes his desire to kill women in a “day of retribution” against those who has refused his sexual advances and a 140-page manifesto that described his hatred towards the world and in particular women.
Media reactions to the killings included: A Fox News guest suggested the shooting was the result of “homosexual tendencies”; a Fox News contributor who blamed a “war on masculinity” for the killing spree; conservative commentators who lashed out at a victim's father who castigated the National Rifle Association during an emotional press conference; and a CNN reporter described Rodger's manifesto as “really well written” and compared it to a Dickens novel.
Fox's Erick Erickson: Blame Violence On “War On Masculinity”
Writing at RedState.com, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson claimed that Rodger “lived the very lifestyle the cultural left thinks men should live” and that his actions were a consequence of a “war on masculinity.” One of the features of this “war,” according to Erickson, is that "[i]nstead of men and women complimenting each other, they're supposed to be perfectly equal even if they are not."
Best we can tell, Elliot Rodger lived the very lifestyle the cultural left thinks men should live and that is regularly glorified on the silver screen. For all the talk of a “War on Women,” there has actually been a war on masculinity for a few decades. And more and more twenty-something young men are getting lost and acting out while society tries to find something new to replace the tried and true.
Society used to expect men to open doors, protect their families, and be champions of modesty and virtue. But chivalry is dead. Instead of men and women complimenting each other, they're supposed to be perfectly equal even if they are not. The hook up culture, instant gratification, and selfishness pervade our culture.
New York Post Published Image Of Bikini-Clad Woman Shooter Obsessed Over In Manifesto
In his manifesto, Rodger cited his hatred of women as his primary motivation for the rampage, and singled out a former schoolmate for giving him an “intense fear of girls.” The New York Post put a spotlight on this former schoolmate, publishing multiple pictures of the woman produced from social media accounts, including one where she is wearing a bikini. The article also mentioned her place of employment. A New York Daily News article on the same topic didn't mention the woman's name and blurred her face in pictures.
Fox Guest Cites “Homosexual Impulses” As Possible Motive
During the May 24 edition of Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine, psychologist Robi Ludwig theorized that Rodger's hatred of women was the result of “homosexual impulses.” Ludwig asked, “Is this somebody who is trying to fight against his homosexual impulses? Is he angry with women because they were taking men away from him?” She subsequently apologized in a Facebook post, saying she “in NO way meant to indicate being a homosexual or having homosexual impulses is a cause for spree killing.”
Fox's Katie Pavlich Criticizes Those Who Showed Solidarity In Face Of Killer's Misogynist Rants
Following widespread discussion of Rodger's hatred towards women, many took to Twitter to decry misogyny using the hashtag "#yesallwomen." According to CNN.com, “The hashtag #YesAllWomen was used more than 1 million times since Saturday ... Since it started, there are tweets about rape, feminism, harassment and women's rights with the same hashtag.”
On the May 26 edition of Fox's Outnumbered, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich said in reference to the shooting and subsequent hashtag: “This issue is not about women and I think it's kind of insulting for women to go on Twitter and talk about how them getting hit on in the bar is equal to being shot in the street, because it's not.”
National Review Online And CNN's Deborah Feyerick: Don't Blame Guns For Shooting
A May 26 editorial at National Review Online adopted the typical right-wing media reaction to mass shootings, which is to direct blame away from the firearm towards other factors. NRO's editors wrote, “Weapons are the instrument and not the cause. It is at this point something of a cliché, but it should perhaps be offered anyway: If someone is determined to kill a substantial number of people, he will almost certainly manage to do so.”
To the contrary, individuals who wish to kill “a substantial number of people” almost always rely on firearms. Of 37 public mass killings between 2006 and 2013, 33 involved firearms, while the Boston Marathon bombings, an incident involving a car, and two cases of arson accounted for the other four incidents.
During live coverage of the shooting CNN reporter Deborah Feyerick repeatedly moved discussion away from the topic of firearm regulation, according to a compilation created by RawStory. In one instance after a guest suggested, “I think it's time to have a discussion about legislation some of the gun issues,” Feyerick responded, “This is an ongoing conversation and it's one that is never going to be resolved. It's got to be about mental health and not firearms.”
Fox's Mark Fuhrman: Incarcerate People With Mental Health Conditions
Even though the existence of a mental health condition is an extremely poor predictive factor for violence, Fox News contributor Mark Fuhrman reacted to the spree killing by stating on Fox's Justice with Judge Jeanine, “Look at the overarching lesson we have here. When you have somebody with this kind of mental disease, if you're going to stop this violence, it's only through incarceration of the person.” When host Jeanine Pirro asked Fuhrman to clarify if he meant “mental health institutionalization or jail,” he said, “It doesn't really make any difference.”
Jim Hoft Attacks Shooting Victim's Father For Criticizing The National Rifle Association
Conservative blogger Jim Hoft attacked Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was shot to death by Rodger, for criticizing the National Rifle Association during an impassioned press conference. Reading from a statement prepared by his family, Martinez said, “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live? When will this insanity stop?”
Citing the fact that three people were stabbed to death during Rodger's rampage, Hoft wrote, “Martinez said nothing about the knifing victims.” In fact Martinez said during the press conference, “Our son Christopher Martinez and six others are dead.” At the time of Martinez's press conference during the afternoon of May 24, the cause of death for all of the victims was unclear. Later that evening the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department revealed that three victims were stabbed to death.
Fox's Keith Ablow: Victim's Father Who Blamed NRA Is “The Problem With America”
Appearing on Fox News Radio program Kilmeade & Friends on May 27, Ablow said people who would blame guns for the shootings are “nuts” and “reprehensible creatures” who are “willing to sacrifice the lives of Americans to advance their disempowering agenda.” Referencing Martinez's press conference where he criticized the NRA, Ablow called Martinez “the problem”:
ABLOW: Even the dad who lost his kid, I cry for him and feel terrible for him, but there he is blaming the NRA. What? Like, he's the problem. Now of course he has suffered horribly, but there's the problem with America right there. That makes no sense. Guns have nothing to do with this.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick Compares Rodger's Manifesto To Dickens Novel
During live coverage of the mass murder on May 24, CNN reporter Deborah Feyerick twice compared Rodger's manifesto -- which has been called a "toxic blend of misogyny and racism" and a "rambling manifesto" -- to Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield, citing her background as a “literature major”:
FEYERICK: I hate to say this, but this is actually really well written. 140 pages which clearly shows significant premeditation that he wanted to leave his story, his novel behind and it almost sounds like David Copperfield. How I came into this world, and oh then I was friends with this person and not friends with this person.
FEYERICK: Reading through this, I have to tell you, as a literature major, this sounds like he is writing the story, you know for example, of David Copperfield. I was born, I made friends, I had a life of privilege, then my life was not so privileged. I hate to give him any credit but this is fascinating to read.