Remember the story about an someone allegedly murdered in North Dakota because he was a Republican? You will surely be shocked to learn that they were based on initial reports based on speculative early police statements that were quickly found to be almost certainly false:
Mr. Trump and Ms. Greene were among a chorus of Republican politicians — including several members of Congress and the attorney general of North Dakota — who rushed to condemn Mr. Brandt. They relied on a handful of early news stories that cited a state highway patrol officer’s report, which suggested Mr. Brandt killed Mr. Ellingson because he believed he was a “Republican extremist.”
That claim, made weeks before the midterm elections, ignited a brief national political firestorm. Republican politicians and right-wing media figures claimed that Mr. Brandt had been inspired by President Biden’s recent warnings about “extremism” in the Republican Party. They complained that news media coverage of political violence willfully ignored instances when the assailants were Democrats.
But the episode quickly became an example of another media phenomenon: the distortion of complex, painful events to fit an opportune political narrative.
Although evidence in the case suggests the two men argued about politics that night, law enforcement officials concluded quickly that the killing was not politically motivated. The prosecutor for Foster County who brought the charges never accused Mr. Brandt of running over Mr. Ellingson because of political beliefs.
Acquaintances and a family member could not recall Mr. Brandt, a 42-year-old welder with no history of party registration, expressing political views.
People who go back far enough will get a grim chuckle out of the fact that Gateway Pundit can still act as the assignment editor for the Republican Media-Industrial Complex as well as politicians who are as dumb as Jim Hoft (who says blogs don’t matter anymore!):
The next morning, Gateway Pundit, a right-wing site that regularly seeds stories in the conservative media, wrote its own version under the headline “Crazed North Dakota man runs over and kills teen for ‘extremist’ Republican views.”
That evening, the case hit Fox News’s prime-time lineup, where it stayed for days. “This is a guy who intended to kill an 18-year-old Republican because he was a Republican,” Jeanine Pirro said during an on-air debate about the incident, claiming that Mr. Brandt chased Mr. Ellingson in his vehicle.
The case spread across the right-wing ecosystem, from Jack Posobiec, the far-right conspiracy theorist and podcaster, to Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, calling Mr. Brandt a “terrible guy.” The state attorney general, Drew H. Wrigley, condemned the episode as “hateful violence.”
In McHenry and the neighboring town of Glenfield, where Mr. Brandt lives, acquaintances said they were surprised by the claims of a political motive. There is no evidence in public records or court filings suggesting Mr. Brandt is a Democrat.
One could even argue here that the lesson is to treat any Republican election-cycle tall tales with the highest degree of skepticism possible.