James Holmes is a human earthquake. We are as ill-equipped to predict the eruptions of such human beings as we are to predict the eruptions of the earth.
But that doesn't mean that nothing meaningful came out of the Aurora tragedy.
Something quite important did, though few Americans are aware of it because it has already entered the mainstream media's memory hole.
On ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday morning, Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter for ABC News, announced to George Stephanopoulos and millions of viewers that there's "a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado page on the Colorado Tea Party site," which mentions Holmes "talking about joining the Tea Party last year."
Ross acknowledged that, "We don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado."
As the Baltimore Sun's TV critic, David Zurawik, wrote: "So, why put it out there in the first place, if you don't have it nailed down?"
While blaming ABC News and Brian Ross for besmirching reputations and irresponsible reporting, Mr. Zurawik doesn't answer his question.
I will. The news media -- as there are almost no non-liberal mainstream news media, the term "news media" means liberal news media -- believe they have a higher calling than reporting news.
In order to understand this, I offer this anecdote. A number of years ago, I was asked to moderate a panel of judges that included a former, very liberal, California Supreme Court justice. At one point, the justice said that his role as a judge was to fight inequality, poverty and racism. I respectfully disagreed: if that is what he wanted to do professionally, he should have chosen another profession; his role as a judge is solely to administer justice in his courtroom.
People on the left think the way the judge did. The primary purpose of every profession, as they see it, is to increase what they call social justice.
Thus, the purpose of college teachers (and increasingly high school and elementary teachers as well) is no longer merely to teach. It is to improve society by teaching students, for example, about global warming. And the purpose of history textbooks is not primarily to teach history, but to make female, gay, black, and Latino students feel good about themselves. (California just passed a law mandating that textbooks include stories of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.)
And the purpose of the news media is not primarily to present news as impartially as possible. It is to improve society -- which to liberals means, above all, fighting the right.
So when Brian Ross linked the Aurora mass murderer to the Tea Party, in his mind, he was doing the right thing. Is there one person in America who believes that if Ross had discovered a James Holmes in Aurora active in the ACLU, he would have reported it?
There is an additional explanation.
In general, the left believes the right is evil. Not wrong, evil. And to Brian Ross and most of his colleagues at ABC News, the Tea Party is the current apotheosis of American evil.
If you think this is hyperbolic, former New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote that when an anonymous individual threw a brick through a congressman's window, this somehow proved that the Tea Party was engaged in a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht."
Kristallnacht, the "Night of the Broken Glass," is considered the opening act of the Holocaust. In November 1938, over the course of two days, tens of thousands of German Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps; scores of Jews were beaten to death; 267 synagogues were destroyed; and thousands of Jewish-owned businesses were vandalized -- often by having their windows smashed, hence the term Kristallnacht.
No one at the New York Times criticized Rich for his comparison of the Tea Party to Nazi murderers. Why would they? Nearly everyone at the paper probably agreed with him. And defeating the right is more important than moral or factual accuracy.
On the day after Jared Loughner killed six people and gravely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others, in an almost perfect preview of Brian Ross, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that right-wing hate had provoked Loughner: "It's the saturation of our political discoursE -- and especially our airwaves -- with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence. Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right . . . "
Lest the ABC News smear be forgotten, I thought it important to devote a column to it. But the truth is that, in varying degrees and in a variety of ways, it happens every day -- in movies, in schools, in courtrooms, and, of course, in the news media.