ABC News Doesn’t Report Democratic Activist’s Actual Threat ‘You’re Dead!’ to Tea Party Leader at Townhall Broadcast in Tucson

By Michael W. Chapman | January 17, 2011 | 5:44 PM EST

Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC's This Week. (AP Photo)

( – On Jan. 8, the day of the shooting massacre in Tucson, Ariz.,  ABC News reported that the father of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) said “the whole Tea Party was her enemy.” But one week later, at a Jan. 15 townhall meeting-like news show in Tucson about the shooting, ABC News did not report that a Democratic activist in the audience threatened a Tea Party leader by saying “You’re dead!”

Although the activist, J. Eric Fuller, 63, is heard on the video of the program saying those words while Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries is talking, ABC News anchor David Muir later reported that Fuller “mumbled what seemed to be a threat.” Also, ABC This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour, who led the show’s taping on Jan. 15, said that Fuller “appeared to direct a threat towards a member of the Tea Party in our audience when he spoke.”

Fuller, who was shot twice, in the knee and in the back, in the Jan. 8 shooting, was sitting in the front row for the Jan. 15 taping of This Week, which was broadcast on Sunday, Jan. 16 and entitled “After the Tragedy: An American Conversation Continued.”

One day before the taping, Fuller, who had campaigned for Rep. Giffords, went on the liberal radio show Democracy NOW, where he was interviewed by co-hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.  During that telephone interview, Fuller reflected on the shooting and said, “How many other demented people are out there? It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle, and the rest got their first target. Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled. Senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic-fringe anarchism subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even 9-year-old girls.”

In an earlier interview with The New York Times, cited in a Jan. 16 Times article, the newspaper reported that Fuller, a veteran, repeatedly denounced the “Tea Party crime syndicate,” and said of Republicans, “They appeal to simple-minded rednecks.”

Also, in the Jan. 9 edition of This Week, Amanpour talked briefly about the man who ran against Giffords in the 2010 congressional race, saying, “she was running against a very Tea Party candidate who would talk about how if 10% was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the federal government and his tax crusade, for example.”

Towards the end of the Jan. 15 taping of This Week, host Amanpour raised the topic of mental health and gun control, which was commented upon by several panelists and by people in the audience. ABC’s David Muir, with a microphone among the audience members said, “Christiane, Trent Humphries is a Tea Party member, And I’m curious if you could just stand for a moment.”

Humphries then stood as Muir continued, mentioning that Rep. Giffords herself owned a gun and asked, “I’m curious when you hear this that there needs to be a debate from Democrats and Republicans in the room where you see us headed forward.”

Humphries gave a long answer, touching on federal laws that affect mental health and privacy rights but repeatedly emphasized that it was a national debate that should occur after all the victims of the shooting were buried. Towards the end of his answer, a voice from the audience can be heard saying, “You’re dead!”

According to the Jan. 17 Arizona Republic, Fuller “then swiveled in his chair, raised his camera and took a photo of the pro-gun speaker [Trent Humphries], muttering, ‘You’re dead,’ according to Joel Tranter, who was sitting behind him.”   Fuller’s remark can be heard on ABC’s video of the show at 42 minutes, 25 seconds into the program. Click here for video.

At show’s end, security and police officers surrounded Fuller and escorted him from the room. As he was leaving, he turned towards the audience and reportedly shouted, “You’re all whores!”

Fuller has been charged with making threats and was “involuntarily committed for mental health evaluation,” according to Jason Ogan, a spokesman with the Pima County sheriff’s office.

In a later segment for ABC about the Jan. 15 taping, the network’s David Muir spoke with Amanpour and then, alone on-screen, said: :  “Another note tonight on today’s townhall meeting: One of the victims of the shooting who was in the audience, became agitated and was detained by security. It happened towards the end of the conversation. James Fuller, who was shot twice last week, took offense at what another audience member was saying, and mumbled what seemed to be a threat. Security did escort him out of the building and he’s been charged now with a misdemeanor.”

Amanpour, in the Nexis transcript of the show, says towards the end, “As our townhall concluded, one of the victims of the shooting in our audience became agitated and was detained by security. James Eric Fuller, who was shot twice last Saturday, appeared to direct a threat towards a member of the Tea Party in our audience when he spoke. Fuller was charged with a misdemeanor and involuntarily committed, according to the Pima County sheriff’s office.”

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman