We are all deeply shocked at the fatal shooting of Jo Cox MP. An eye-witness interview on Sky News was aired earlier. He made no mention of “Britain First” but the Manchester Evening News misquoted him:
“Elderly attacker ‘shouted Britain First’
The man who gunned down Ms Cox shouted ‘Britain First’, an eyewitness claims. Speaking to Sky News, the witness said the shooter looked to be in his 60s or 70s. He said the man walked very slowly away from the scene after the attack.”
Maria Eagle felt this was something that should be immediately tweeted:
— Maria Eagle MP (@meaglemp) June 16, 2016
Sky News then quoted Maria Eagle’s tweet and the loop was complete. The eye-witness has denied hearing any such comment:
Eyewitness tells reporters he didn’t hear anyone shout “Britain first”, saying: “Never heard that”. http://twitter.com/Jamin2g/status/743464352066453504/video/1 …
— Ben (@Jamin2g) June 16, 2016
In her grief Maria Eagle jumped the gun to make political capital of this tragic event, I am sure she deeply regrets it. Perhaps we can all learn to keep cooler heads until the facts are known. It may turn out that there is a political motivation, if it does that is the time to report it. All we can say with certainty is the Manchester Evening News said the source was the Sky News eye-witness and it was not.
UPDATE Maria Eagle has wisely deleted her tweet, her instinct to make political capital was poor but this was not entirely her fault. It is a cancer in modern media that such things are instantly picked up and repeated by papers and media channels without any attempt to fact check. What happened here was a feedback loop was created around a mistake. Will lessons be learnt? I doubt it. The tragedy is that it adds to the grief of the family in their tragic loss of a beautiful wife and mother. The saying “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth Is putting on its shoes” has never been more true; even a European Union commissioner has sought to leverage this tragic incident for political gain.