Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Callum Borchers: Baseless Claims That the Las Vegas Shooting Was 'Muslim Terror'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Callum Borchers: Baseless Claims That the Las Vegas Shooting Was 'Muslim Terror'

Article excerpt

There was a lot of turnover at the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the family of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson bought the newspaper in December 2015. The most high-profile addition was columnist Wayne Allyn Root, a former Libertarian Party nominee for vice president who hosts a syndicated conservative radio show and whose latest book is called "Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon is Changing America -- and What We Can All Do to Save the Middle Class."

Root could not wait to weigh in on Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas. On Twitter, he jumped to the conclusion that the shooter must be Muslim, before police had identified him.

"This is real thing. Clearly coordinated Muslim terror attack. PRAY for our Vegas police. PRAY for victims. VERY bad. Awful."

Several hours later, police identified the gunman as a white Nevada man named Stephen Paddock.

Root, however, was not ready rule out a connection to Islamic terrorism. In fact, he argued that "liberals" are the ones rushing to judgment by assuming the shooter is not a Muslim: "liberals assuming not Islamic terror attack in Vegas. No one knows motivation of killer or 'Asian companion.' On day of lone wolf terror."

Root loves conspiracy theories. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he floated several about President Barack Obama's time at Columbia University, from which Obama and Root graduated in 1983. Root even suggested that Obama might not have attended the school at all.

"I never met him. Never saw him. Never even heard of him. And none of the classmates that I knew at Columbia have ever met him, saw him, or heard of him," Root wrote in 2012 in The Blaze, a website founded by conservative talk personality Glenn Beck.

Root is not alone in spreading the idea that jihadist terrorism was behind the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on Sunday -- despite the absence of evidence. …

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