Alex Murdaugh killed his wife with an ‘automatic rifle’, per mainstream media
A basic fact about a gun in this murder trial is wrong, plus media credibility plummets to all time low
Alex Murdaugh is charged with murdering his wife Maggie by shooting at least four times at close range with a rifle. Maggie suffered immensely before the final headshots killed her. Alex is also accused of killing his son Paul with a shotgun.
* UPDATE 2/17: After my story came out, all the outlets I cited corrected their reports (except CBS.) I’ve added screen caps of their original reporting below.
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The prosecution is expected to rest its case on Friday on the double murder in South Carolina. At the same time, the media elite wrongly report that the gun in the horrific murder is more deadly than the one presented at trial
As I write this on Thursday night, the biggest media outlets in the country are reporting this:
Maggie Murdaugh was shot four or five times with an automatic rifle just outside the kennels, while her son was shot twice with a shotgun inside a long closet where dog food and other supplies were kept.
The “automatic rifle” is factually incorrect. A semi-automatic, AR-type rifle was used based on the casings left behind.
The prosecution has given no evidence or even suspicion that Murdaugh owned or used an automatic rifle.
That type of rifle, which fires multiple times when the trigger is pulled, is highly regulated by the ATF. It has not been used in a murder since the mid-1980s.
During the trial, pathologist Ellen Riemer testified about the autopsy report. She said Maggie was shot repeatedly with a semi-automatic rifle (which she called an “assault weapon.”) The first three shots to her abdomen and legs were so painful that she fell over or to her knees.
The rifle was never found, but the casings matching the ones at the murder scene were found on Murdaugh’s hunting plantation.
Nevertheless, these major news outlets are currently reporting that it was an “automatic rifle”.
*These screen captures show what the media reported before my story was published. Click through the links to see their corrected stories.
AP’s outside influence
The reason for the big media outlets reporting that Murdaugh used a more dangerous gun is because they all picked up the story from the Associated Press (AP) wire service.
The AP’s media relations did not respond to my request for comment.
The AP reporter in South Carolina who wrote the story, Jeffrey Collins, tweeted it to be juicy and dramatic.
While Collins is the source that started everyone else reporting the wrong firearm used to murder Maggie Murdaugh, all the other outlets have editors who could have corrected the error before publication.
**I write more about mainstream journalists refusing the learn the basics of firearms for paid subscribers below.
It’s not like the AP doesn’t know the correct terms. Returning to my story a few months ago about how AP Style Guide alerted the media to stop using the phrase “assault weapon.”
The AP said the term is biased because it refers to the cosmetic features of a gun. The style guide said reporters should use the accurate term “semi-automatic rifle.” (As I wrote at the time, the “semi-automatic” adjective is unnecessary because automatic rifles are not used in crimes.)
Media credibility rock bottom
This is the gazillionth time big media outlets have made errors on simple facts related to firearms. They seem to think that they can make the same mistakes over and over and expect their credibility with the readers to stay the same.
It shows that the least trusted institution in America is Congress (as always) and the second least trusted is TV news. So you see why ABC and CBS News making an error with the most popular rifle in America (the AR style) will make readers think even less of their reporting.
Gun questions in the trial
Those of us who are knowledgeable about guns have been wondering about the strange firearm-related narratives in the state’s case. Can you answer or illuminate any of these? Leave a comment…
Headshot graze — How did Cousin Eddie shoot Murdaugh in the head on that faked suicide attempt and only graze him? A trained shooter who is sober would have trouble only hitting the edge of the head.
Why were two guns -- a shotgun and a rifle used? It would be very difficult to carry two long guns, put one down, shoot the shotgun twice as Paul was moving toward the suspect, put down the shotgun, pick up the rifle and shoot Maggie up to five times.
One theory is if Murdaugh planned the crime in advance, he wanted it to look like there were multiple shooters. But, even if there really were multiple suspects, why did they use different styles of heavy guns?
If Alec is guilty, why didn’t he use the handgun he said was in his car? It likely would have been a much faster death with less suffering and a less messy crime scene to clean.
Why didn’t Maggie run to Paul or away from the scene when Paul was shot? If Alex was the only shooter, when he put down the shotgun after killing Paul, there was a window before using the rifle to kill Maggie.
Alex Murdaugh trial fascination
Americans are glued to this trial because Murdaugh is rich and a lawyer and privileged. Three generations of the Murdaughs have been the prosecutors in this county and put away many criminals. Alex had the power to prosecute for months after he allegedly murdered his family. The state says his professional knowledge and connections gave him the ability to meticulously plan the murder of his family and get away with it.
Can the elite get away with murder? Are there two systems of justice in our country— one for regular people and another rich and powerful?
*Deliberate gun errors in reporting
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