Aurora theater shootings aren't national news, declares conservative activist

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Update below: News of the Aurora theater shootings and suspected killer James Holmes continue to dominate headlines not just in Colorado, but nationwide -- and Yates Walker is sick of it.

Writing for The Daily Caller, Walker, a self-described conservative activist, vents his frustration in a piece entitled "James Holmes Isn't National News."

Walker starts off his analysis with this strong lead:

News directors, reporters and highly paid pundits across the country are wrong. The murders in Aurora, Colorado were not and are not worthy of their focus and our national attention. Our species' interest in demons, in monsters, in the nameless, ghastly things lurking in the shadows is our lowest common denominator. Though that dark fascination exists in all of us, it is a beast that deserves to starve. Instead, we're feeding it daily and increasing its appetite. As a result, we think less of our neighbors and ourselves. And worse -- we expect less.

yates walker.jpg
Yates Walker.
These assertions are followed by a series of questions: "Is anyone outside Aurora, Colorado better off for knowing about these murders? Did Holmes' outrage illuminate a pattern of repeated, predictable behavior that needs to be addressed before it becomes epidemic? Will the wounds of the victims and their families heal faster because their plights are broadcast nationally? Do the American people benefit by looking into the eyes of the broken-hearted or into the eyes of the maniac who broke their hearts?"

His answer: "Of course not."

This sort of reaction is totally understandable. For those of us living in the metro area, the shocking deaths of twelve people who are essentially our neighbors, and the struggles of dozens more who are dealing with terrible physical and psychological wounds, aren't abstract in the slightest. They're very personal. But if this had happened elsewhere, there's a very good chance many of us would feel inundated and oppressed after six days' worth of reports on the subject.

Indeed, many locals are reacting likewise, if only because concentrating on topics that are alternately sad, frustrating and frightening over such a long stretch can seem suffocating.

Walker's conclusion is more controversial, however. It reads:

On Friday, July 20, 2012, someone discovered something. Someone broke a record. Someone caught a really big fish. Someone was named an Eagle Scout. Someone died for a worthy cause. Someone was reunited with a family member after years apart. And someone murdered 12 people in a movie theater. Why would we collectively choose to focus on this last someone?

Turns out I'm the father of an Eagle Scout, and the hard work and energy my now-adult son poured into achieving this honor a number of years ago were certainly deserving of more attention. But to equate a mass slaying to this accomplishment, or catching a really big fish, undermines Walker's otherwise interesting argument.

The horrific events that took place at the Aurora Century 16 last Friday are newsworthy nationally as well as locally, even though we might wish otherwise. As such, each person must decide for himself how much is enough -- or too much.

Update, 11:33 a.m. July 26: A short time ago, Yates Walker sent us a note responding to this post. Here's what he had to say.

I think I made my points clearly in the article, but I wanted to follow up anyway. I think the coverage of monsters like James Holmes, Casey Anthony and Drew Peterson are bad for American culture. Our culture has grown less neighborly during my life, and I think it's partly due to the fact that 24 hour news stations fill their hours with content that scares the daylights out of everyone.

My article was intended to chide news outlets while reminding Americans that James Holmes and his ilk are rarities. Also, as a Christian, I believe that darkness is constantly tapping at our shoulder. Sometimes it aims to elicit a strong response from us, but the darkness is also there to discourage us and keep us complacent. News networks aren't helping matters. They bathe themselves in stories like Holmes because it's easy and it eats up a lot of hours that would otherwise be spent doing research and the stuff that, you know, journalists might do.

Obviously, I feel the a great deal of sympathy for Aurora's victims, but I do believe that, in a better world, the story wouldn't go national because people realize that the story's gruesome appeal is far outweighed by the damage it would do coarsening our culture.

Congratulations on your Eagle Scout son. That's quite an achievement.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Photos: Aurora theater shooting Instagram gallery sad, inspired, angry."

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... and in the "Related Content" directly above these comments, under PAID DISTRIBUTION, we have the story of -- "Young Beauty found burned, dead on road" ...


... ain't "Free Market Capitalism" and the race to the bottom of the public cesspool great ?


DonkeyHotay topcommenter

More innocent civilians are murdered EVERY DAY in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of U$ Military policy.


U$A = whiny little bitches.




Wasn't it just a few days later that 14 people were killed in Texas from one single road accident? Believe me, I had to dig pretty deep to find much coverage about it. It shouldn't be necessary to point out the fact that it was illegal immigrants shoved into a van illegally trying to cross the border, because let's face it, Americans want to hear more about white people dying on the news than they do the "less than important" brownies from the south. Whether or not it's for profit, all this coverage, it is a little much. We forget, we create these monsters as a society.


The deadliest day ever in Syria happened not long after the shootings as well. Genocide is still, after decades, happening in parts of Africa. America decimates Eastern Africa for resources to put in their smart phones or xBoxes. (xBoxi?) Right, so it's in our neighborhood, but hasn't Aurora been the butt end of jokes in most dialogue? Now we care? I was actually pretty shocked to see the photos of those killed because I was expecting more 'hood people to be in the theater. But then I realized, because of the way we treat our poor - they probably didn't have the money to pay for a $15 movie ticket.I'm also pretty tired of hearing about stories of bravery, solidarity or "community." This happened a little more than a decade ago, only 20 miles away and still Colorado learned NOTHING. A ban on assault rifles expires in 2004 and nobody cares, why? Because people stopped giving a shit. We as a "community" learned nothing, and in the next few years it will be the same thing. This was a sick man who asked for help and didn't receive it. Good job America - welcome to the rest of the world. 

RobertChase topcommenter

The fascists declared the largest mass-shooting in our history not to be probative of anything other than a need to enable people to carry concealed weapons wherever they go; now they declare it not to be news at all.  Any outrage is possible from the traitors who turned "the land of the free" into the Land of Prisons!  There are well in excess of 200,000,000 handguns in the US, and most of them are in the hands of people who are more likely to shoot themselves, friends, or family members than any criminal.  This surfeit of weapons has done absolutely nothing to prevent governmental tyranny, the wingnuts' justification for the Second Amendment (though a poster in the DP says that the right to bear arms is conferred by God).


I agree that the relentless coverage by the media is far more about profiting from a sensational story than anything else (what's new), but why would Walker single out THIS event, the biggest shooting - 70 casualties - in the history of the U.S, from the other 1,000 other useless stories? Nearly every story on the front page of the New York Times seems to fall into the category of "not newsworthy" using Walker's criteria, as does his own column.  Very little news requires direct action or reaction on our part, save for local morning reports of where the current speed traps are located, but the aftermath of something of this magnitude is surely worth looking into.


The truth is, Walker is missing the point (while gaining readers, for profit I assume) with his myopic column.  Though the story started as the description of a nightmare-ish series of events that left fear and tragedy in its wake and the events leading up to such a shooting (and surely it is worth noting how this happened if there is to be any prevention of similar events in the future),  it is now turning into a story of redemption, bravery, family and support; a community coming together in the wake of the worst shooting in our nation's history, supporting each other and deciding to stand tall together rather to recede in fear.  Surely there is something to be gained there.


If Walker demands optimism from media, how about all the stories the media is uncovering of heroes and bravery and love from this event? Brave people shielding their families (and strangers) from bullets, strangers pulling strangers from danger at the risk of their own lives, staunching each others blood, giving comfort and aid in parking lots, even in the theater while being shot at.  Police officers arriving within seconds, risking their lives, racing victims to hospitals in their own cars.  Those same hospitals donating free care to victims.  The generosity of the community (and the nation) in immediately donating money, food, love, support, and time. The coming together of an entire community in the aftermath.  Surely there is more Walker can take from this coverage than just singling out "hushed, breathless descriptions of the unusual blinking patterns of a demented, heavily drugged psychopath with tie-dyed hair."  If that's all Walker can gather from the coverage, that says more about Walker's ability to perceive more than anything.


Interesting that Yates Walker believes that the aftermath and recovery  (for better or worse) of the largest shooting in the history of the United States is "not worthy of national attention", but seems to think what IS newsworthy is his shitty national column.






As a 27-year Aurora resident who recently moved 1,000 miles away, and whose sons live just 6 blocks away from the movie theater and work just across the street from it ... yes, I needed to hear that news last Friday morning. I also need to hear the updates. Mr. Walker's question, "Is anyone outside Aurora, Colorado better off for knowing about these murders?" conversely begs the question, "So, Mr. Walker. Was anyone INSIDE Aurora, Colorado 'better off' for hearing about the shootings?"


Of course they needed that news. 'Better off' is strange way to put it.


All right ... so even though his article was not thought through completely before he hit the Save key, I do understand and agree with his main point. Every night the news is filled with stories of shootings, rapes, car accients, bombings, drownings ... plus of course, the latest doings of Lindsey Lohan, Dancing With The Stars and American Idol.  Why do we care? Why do we stand for such nonsense and even ask for seconds? Because the internet and 24 hour cable are both a blessing and a curse. Because we're being dumbed down.  And we don't even know it ....


I rarely find myself agreeing with self proclaimed 'conservative activists' but in this instance I can't find anything quoted that I don't agree with.


My feeling is that the so called news branches of the modern media conglomerations find it convenient to put all their resources on one big story and pretend like the rest of he world stopped spinning.  It's not just tragedies, They do the same thing any time they can get away with it. 


When there are no big stories to concentrate on and no political ads to fill the time they end up playing music book ending every commercial break, and repeating the same old canned videos, instead of actually seeking out the news.


For a "conservative activist", he sure doesn't understand the concept of capitalism, ratings, and advertising. It's national news because it is what people want to see and WILL tune in to see - sadly. The news does not dictate what we see. The news shows whatever the most people will watch, hence they can sell their advertising for more $$$. 


Again, funny that a conservative would be asking the news to dictate more positive things to their viewership. Next thing you know, he'll want the First Lady to encourage kids to eat healthy (blasphemy!). 



Briana, I don't think anyone is arguing that there are other woefully forgotten situations happening around the world that also merit our attention.  However,  Walkers's (asinine) point has nothing to do with that.  He's saying that this incident, taken in isolation, is not worthy of national attention at all, apparently because he doesn't believe knowing the details provides any benefit to anybody, and he's basically tired of hearing about it.  Apparently for him it ranks up there with someone catching a "really big fish".  It's worth noting that the other stories you brought up do not merit "newsworthiness" for him either. In fact, I'm not even sure what does. The media don't create "newsworthy".  They merely respond to whatever generates the most interest by consumers.  Apparently Walker has watched enough to do his part.


On your point about Americans only being interested in "whites" being killed... Who do you define as "American" here?  There are more than just white people in America - you think they only want to hear about white people dying? Or are you just generalizing that being American means you're "white"? And why bring it up at all?  I understand the racial bandwagon you're trying to hop on, but you're stretching to apply it here.  You yourself said you were "shocked" to see the photos because there were not more "hood" people in them.  Though we did not know the identities (or races) of most victims for days, this occurred in an area with a very heavy minority population, and I think most of us (especially locals) assumed there would be a lot more minority victims - yet the coverage was still there, people were still interested.  I had actually not heard race mentioned at any point until your post.  I doubt this event would have gone uncovered had more victims turned out to be black.


P.S.  Banning assault rifles doesn't stop people from being crazy, or killing people when they want to.  Plenty of mass-murdering happened on Earth before assault rifles ever existed.  The crazies find a way.

michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @brianafrederick Very interesting post, Briana. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for weighing in.



 "I agree that the relentless coverage by the media is far more about profiting from a sensational story than anything else (what's new), but why would Walker single out THIS event, the biggest shooting - 70 casualties - in the history of the U.S, from the other 1,000 other useless stories?"


Because it's happening right now.


Maybe they are trying to maximize return on the fancy, often tasteless, cutaway shots and graphics logos they make for each event.


 @Lunkwill I can't argue on any of your points and I was really hoping people would have noticed the racial undertone of the post. There was a time back in...'05 maybe? '06? I watched two black men get gunned down in front of the Lotus night club that used to be in The Union Station. For the life of me I couldn't find any media coverage and had to ask friends of mine on the force what happened and if they ever caught the gunmen. (There were two from what I saw) They didn't, as far as I know.


Am I saying there wouldn't be any coverage had they been black? No. What you said about the media being driven by consumers is absolutely right, kind of. In essence they tell us what should and shouldn't be newsworthy, but the response definitely acts as a catalyst for their stories. Why is it that race is such an issue in the media then if it shouldn't be a topic? If there were a few gang related members in the crowd of victims would it have been a completely different tone taken by 'mourners'? Would it be a backlash on street violence, or merely just a "yeah they probably had it coming to them" attitude we take on the daily?


The issues at hand here are way more powerful and complex than what can be said in a blog comment. Do I agree with Walker? To an extent I suppose. It's funny that a high majority of people can jump on their social media soapboxes and declare "their hearts go out to the victims" when this year there have been almost 300 homicides in Chicago - and even a few of the victims were under the age of 15 that have been caught in cross fire (Most recently little Heaven, who was 4) and yet you see nobody in Denver walking around with "We will remember Chicago" t-shirts" - or donating to youth centers to protect kids from street violence. I'm saying, the ratio of media coverage to actual tragedy is silly. I definitely feel it's a "hey look at me I really care" scenario when it should be anything but....


P.S. You're absolutely right. Crazies will always find a way - as a society our job should be to find the crazies and give them support and help to deter them from violence - if in fact that's REALLY what society wants. But, then again, we learned that from Columbine - or at least we should have right?

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Lunkwill  @brianafrederick 


So if assault weapons aren't more efficient at mass killing, why do so many mass murderers prefer them over rocks or knives?

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