The rule is three strikes and you’re out. last I heard, and Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough whiffed again Tuesday morning in covering UCSB mass killer Elliot Rodger. For a third time in less than two years, the self-professed autism “awareness” activist falsely linked mass shootings with autism, slandering people like his own son in the process. There is absolutely no link between mass shootings and autism, and there is actually scientific research on the topic.
On Tuesday’s show, it was dim-bulb adman Donny Deutsch who first brought up the subject of Rodger’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and given Morning Joe‘s well-known history of autism buffoonery, the whole thing was handled with muttering hesitation.
“Supposedly he was on the spectrum, he had Asperger’s,” Deutsch said, “and that was also supposedly a syndrome of the last horrible mass killing, and sometimes there are problems without solutions. I don’t know what.”
Scarborough jumped in and referenced his horrible history of lies about autistic people, but only as it related to him getting “pounded,” because that’s obviously the real tragedy here, not the dangerous prejudice he exposed autistic people to.
“I did not hear about the — him being on the spectrum,” Scarborough said. “I brought that up before and got pounded for that, even though I think eventually it ended up being true in another case.”
In this case, Scarborough was simply using autism as a way to distract attention away from guns. “There may be one thing we can talk about here,” he said. “Maybe we can talk about mental health in America,” as opposed to guns, but then he referenced his previous autism lies again, fairly boasting, “So many times, as I said in Newtown, before Newtown when we first saw the news, I described the kid. Without knowing anything about him.”
What Scarborough is talking about is the time, following the movie theater shooting in Aurora, he said that these mass shooters “more often than not,” are “somewhere on the autism spectrum.” At that time, the total number of mass shooters who had ever had a confirmed diagnosis of an ASD was precisely zero. I wrote extensively about Scarborough’s lies and misinformation at the time, and shortly thereafter, had a long talk with MSNBC President Phil Griffin, one of several we’ve had since then. Scarborough has been spoken to about this, he knows that there is no scientific foundation for what he is saying, and yet he keeps on doing it.
As Scarborough well knows, autism is not a mental illness, it is a neurodevelopmental condition, and while there have been attempts to link autism with criminal violence, science says that there is no link, that the junk studies used to propagate this slander, among other serious flaws, ignore the fact that their subjects almost always exhibit co-morbidities; In other words, they have serious mental illnesses along with being autistic. What little reliable science there is shows that autistic people are actually less prone to violent crime.
The problem with reporting on mass murderers like Elliot Rodger is, essentially, that autistic people are being nut-punched by reporters. For some reason, it is perfectly okay to report on someone’s ASD (without mentioning the lack of any scientific relevance to crime), yet when it comes to reporting on the accompanying mental illness that may actually have caused the incident in question, suddenly confidentiality matters. They hang autism out there, call it a “mental illness,” and if they even mention the co-morbidities, they never identify them.
After issuing a bullshit apology following the Aurora massacre, Scarborough just couldn’t wait to do it again after Newtown, claiming gleeful vindication because shooter Adam Lanza had an ASD, and Scarborough was joined by every major news outlet in bashing autistic people. It is important for people to know that every single one of those news organizations had personal contact with me, though email exchanges and phone calls, acknowledging that they had seen my reporting, because anything after that is willful slander, rather than plain ignorance.
This is especially true of Scarborough, because not only did I speak repeatedly to Phil Griffin about this, I also talked, several times, to Willie Geist (who, you’ll notice, tried to steer Joe away from autism this morning), and several other people at MSNBC. In my opinion, it’s time to fire him.
Editor’s note: The author of this piece is the father of two children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.