Univision on Tuesday published quite an exclusive on Orlando gunman Omar Mateen. “Orlando massacre was ‘revenge,’ not terrorism, says man who claims he was gunman’s lover,” reads the headline of the story, in which Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas interviews a man who labeled Mateen “100 percent” gay. Mateen’s rampage at the Pulse nightclub in the wee hours of June 12, said the man, was not quite what it appeared: “I’ve cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge,” said the interviewee. The 29-year-old Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call during the massacre.
Key data point: This man would not allow his identity to be disclosed by Univision. He spoke under a disguise and called himself “Miguel.”
The Univision interview furnished other interesting details. “Miguel” said that Mateen acted out of revenge because of a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men. One of those lovers, said “Miguel,” later revealed to Mateen that he was HIV positive. “He [Omar] was terrified that he was infected,” “Miguel” told Salinas. “I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test . . . it came out negative but it doesn’t come out right away. It takes 4, 5 months. . . . When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was ‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me.'” As for “Miguel’s” intimacy with Mateen, he says they met 15 to 20 times.
And as for the credibility of “Miguel”? Univision had this to say: “Univision was unable to independently verify his account. The FBI confirmed to Univision that it had met with him.”
Two days later, the Los Angeles Times supplied additional data on the reliability of this man. “Investigators do not consider the man’s account credible, according to one senior law enforcement official with access to the investigation.”
Titled “FBI investigators say they have found no evidence that Orlando shooter had gay lovers,” the Los Angeles Times article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske raises a number of questions about the media’s various accounts of Mateen’s social life. The skinny:
In seeking to verify the reports, federal agents have culled Mateen’s electronic devices, including a laptop computer and cellphone, as well as electronic communications of those who made the claims, law enforcement officials said.
So far, they have found no photographs, no text messages, no smartphone apps, no gay pornography and no cell-tower location data to suggest that Mateen — who was twice married to women and had a young son — conducted a secret gay life, the officials said.
Jose Zamora, a spokesman for Univision, sent the Erik Wemple Blog this statement when asked about the network’s “Miguel” exclusive: “He said many things during the interview. We have been fact-checking his statements and have been able to confirm many of the things we have been able to check so far.”