Of all the media outlets that linked their credibility to loosely attributed sources that an AR-15 was somehow involved in yesterday’s Navy Yard shooting, the New York Daily News stands out, as the paper’s cover image attests. It’s a provocative presentation, a great marriage of type and image. Alongside a photo of what appears to be an AR-15, it screams, “SAME GUN DIFFERENT SLAY: 12 more innocents killed in D.C., Maniac used ‘Newtown’ weapon, Lupica: AR-15 made for murder.”
It got the fatality count correct, at least. The rest of it was off. Today an FBI official appeared in front of reporters and said that the agency had no “information” that the gunman, Aaron Alexis, had an AR-15 in his possession. Bad news for the Daily News, which earlier this year campaigned for further gun restrictions in the aftermath of Newtown.
All day long the Erik Wemple Blog pressed New York Daily News spokesman Ken Frydman for an accounting as to how the gun could have ended up on the cover when its role in the killings hadn’t received formal confirmation.
“No comment,” Frydman replied late today.
Meanwhile, a column by Mike Lupica posted to the New York Daily News website last night argued that the AR-15 was “the rifle for the ‘sport’ of hunting humans.” First paragraph: “So it takes nine months and two days from Newtown, from 20 dead children and six adults, for someone else to carry the same kind of AR-15 that Adam Lanza carried into Sandy Hook Elementary School into the Washington Navy Yard.”
This afternoon, the New York Daily News affixed this italicized addendum to the story:
The FBI’s assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office said Tuesday that gunman Aaron Alexis acted alone in the Navy Yard shooting that killed 12 people and added “we do not have any information” that an AR-15 was used. Mike Lupica’s column was written Monday when The Daily News and The Associated Press among many others reported, using reputable law enforcement sources, that the shooter Alexis had used three weapons including an AR-15.
Bolded text added to highlight the New York Daily News’s reliance on the safety-in-numbers justification for its screwup.