Driving to a dentist appointment and then to work this morning I heard two news reports on KFAN summarizing the weekend shootings in Colorado. Each time the report said that the shooter, Matthew Murray, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. No mention was made of the role New Life church member and volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam played in preventing further carnage by using her personal sidearm to wound and knock down Murray. On the one hand, it’s probably a good thing for her that she has already drifted from the news (and that she take comfort in knowing she didn’t kill anyone), given the treatment she’d already experienced from her unintended notoriety.
Later, going onto CNN.com and FOXnews.com, however, I discovered that not only had Ms. Assam disappeared from the front page, so had the entire story. A search of both sites turned up several stories from December 10 and 11 and one or two from the 12th but nothing posted today. Yes, time and the news march on and there’s literally fresh meat every day, but it sure seems as if this story faded fast, especially when you think of the ongoing coverage that followed the recent Omaha mall shooting (there’s still stories appearing this week) and the earlier Virginia Tech massacre. VT in particular brought many ongoing articles about the killer’s background, the victims and the vulnerability of the public. Now it seems, for the most part, that the “public’s right to know” is being under-served in comparison. That’s a good thing if it means that the media has learned to tread more respectfully around the lives of people suddenly thrust into tragedy who now find their suffering part of the nation’s entertainment menu.
Or are there other reasons? Think of it, you’ve got a madman “loner”, multiple guns, “assault rifles,” revenge motives, dead white women (always good for two or three nights of headlines and at least one Special Report on Fox) and beautiful blondes — you’d think Colorado would be covered with TV vans, news choppers and producers looking for anyone to sign away the movie rights. And all of this while there’s a TV-writer’s strike going on. Is the story being dismissed with a shrug because mass shootings are now so commonplace? That shouldn’t be an issue this time because you’ve got the perfect “man bites dog” novelty angle — an armed private citizen stopped the killer.
Say, you don’t think this has quickly faded because an armed private citizen … nah, it can’t be that.
It’s probably just as well. First, Jeanne Assam was mugged by the media and her former employer (isn’t it funny how chatty the Minneapolis Police Department is getting on personnel matters and when slandering innocent victims of crimes like Mark Loesch) and then Youth With a Mission (YWAM) gets called a cult in the most recent story on the Fox site:
Several former missionaries have accused YWAM (generally pronounced “Why-Wam”) of being a cult that uses brainwashing methods.
Rick Ross, founder of the Ross Institute of New Jersey, which tracks cults, does not agree.
“Youth With a Mission is not a cult,” he said. “However, I have received very serious complaints about Youth With a Mission from former staffers, family members and also others concerned, such as Christian clergy.”
Rev. Jonathan Bonk, the director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Conn., said that missions like those YWAM offers appeal to those looking for something other than the consumerist lifestyle.
“They want to be attached to a cosmic project that gives their little lives some kind of sense of purpose or meaning,” Bonk said.
“They want to be attached to a cosmic project that gives their little lives some kind of sense of purpose or meaning.” Great, first smear a hero, then sneer at the victims. Matthew Murray writes “You Christians have got it coming” and from the media pews comes a hearty “Amen.”
To give credit where it is due, the Denver Post has done a very good job of developing the story and bringing additional information to light, including a story that described how Murray was able to get his weapons and included a report of an earlier incident he had had with staffers at New Life Church. The paper also reports on how one of the staffers killed at YWAM had once been as spooky as Murray, and has a touching story about how the Christian families of the killer and the victims had reached out to each other.
Finally, I will refer you to the Anderson Cooper interview with a wounded witness of the New Life shooting that also includes a very interesting discussion with Murray’s one-time roommate at YWAM.
Here’s another good article from the Denver Post that looks at more of Assam’s past than just the Minneapolis PD incident.