Why ‘Why’ Is A Tricky Question After A Mass Shooting

December 1, 2015
photo: dave cullen(Courtesy Dave Cullen)
Dave Cullen

"Why?" is the big question that follows a mass shooting, including the one Friday that killed three and wounded nine in Colorado Springs.

Officials haven't officially said anything about motive, though there are certainly clues -- namely that it took place at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Yet the answer to "why" may be a long time coming, if it comes at all. Journalist Dave Cullen has the long view on trying to glean too much too soon from media reports. He wrote a New York Times bestselling book about the Columbine shooting and recently penned what he calls a "skeptics guide" to understanding media coverage after a mass shooting for New Republic. Cullen spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Cullen's Tips:

  • Beware of talk about "motives"
  • Beware when the media discusses "multiple sources"
  • Beware of primary sources, like the police
  • Beware of interviews of the killer's "friends"
  • Everyone can get facts wrong, even the governor