ABC came under increasing fire Friday after claiming that alleged theater shooter James Holmes had ties to the tea party.
Reporter Brian Ross made the shocking accusation on "Good Morning America" after discovering the Colorado Tea Party Patriots had a member called James Holmes.
Ross admitted on air that he did not know whether the two men were the same, but still went ahead with his claim that the tragedy in Aurora in which 12 people were killed and 59 injured could be linked to the grassroots group.
ABC later apologized online and Ross tweeted, "Earlier I reported incorrectly that the shooting suspect might be tied to the Tea Party. I apologize for the mistake,” but those two statements would have been seen by just a fraction of the number of people who watched his original report.
Conservatives were joined by journalism groups in attacking Ross. In an article entitled "Well, It Might Be the Same Guy," Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review was scathing.
"What was he thinking?" wrote Reider. "How could Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent, make such a ridiculous mistake?
"If you don't know, how in the world can you think it's a good idea to 'report' it on network television as the nation tries to come to terms with another mass murder. And why? Why would you do it?" asked Rieder, who described Ross' error as "yet another blow to the reeling credibility of the news media."
Tea party groups wer furious at Ross' link. Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer was left fuming. “This was completely irresponsible on behalf of ABC News, but clearly shows their lack of journalistic integrity,” she told Newsmax.
“Although they have issued a retraction, the seed has been planted. Once again, they show their malice towards the tea party movement and their agenda of wanting to tear us down.