John Avlon’s dishonest column on the cop-killers in Las Vegas should be studied by journalism students as an example of how to exploit a tragedy for political purposes. It is a shame he gets on CNN as an “analyst,” which gives him undeserved authority and prestige, when he deliberately confuses and misleads people.
In this case, he tried to blame conservatives for the murders of two policemen.
His Daily Beast column carried two titles, one of them being, “The Bonnie and Clyde of Ultra-Right Hate.”
He said Jerad and Amanda Miller killed two metro cops while shouting, “This is a revolution!,” and then they “flung the Tea Party’s favorite coiled snake Gadsden flag and a swastika on the still-warm corpses and then moved to a nearby Walmart to murder a shopper before turning the guns on themselves.”
The reference to the Gadsden flag being “the Tea Party’s favorite” was an obvious effort to link the Tea Party to the murders. The flag dates back to the American Revolution and is used by various groups and people to protest Big Government.
Miller’s notion of “Big Government” was a government that interfered with his marijuana smoking. A simple search of stories about his background revealed a series of confrontations with law enforcement over his drug habits.
Avlon wrote that Miller’s Facebook pages “detail a descent into a murderous rage, railing against a tyrannical government and parroting talking points from fright-wing radio hosts such as Alex Jones and militia movement groups such as the Three Percenters while ‘liking’ the pages of conservative activist groups ranging from the Heritage Foundation to FreedomWorks and the NRA. Miller’s profile picture was a skull wearing an American flag bandana against a backdrop of crossed knives over the word ‘Patriot.’”
Avlon somehow missed the numerous pro-marijuana groups on Miller’s Facebook page, including:
- Marijuana Policy Project
- Drug Policy Alliance
- Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform
- Marijuanna (sic) fans
- Legalize weed, outlaw corporate greed
- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
- Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Miller was a doper whose “anti-government” philosophy stemmed from his hatred of the police for arresting him for violating the drug laws. You don’t need to be a forensic scientist to figure this case out.
Is there any evidence that Miller was a conservative activist or followed the philosophy of the Heritage Foundation or other conservative groups? Absolutely not. In fact, the Heritage Foundation opposes legalization of marijuana.
“Jerad Miller’s anti-government frenzy was whipped up by the extreme right-wing echo chamber,” Avlon claimed. Then why do the “likes” on his Facebook page include so many pro-marijuana groups? Legal dope has been accepted by some libertarians, most notably at the Cato Institute, but it has been a left-wing cause for decades, mostly funded for the last decade or so by hedge-fund operator George Soros.
Avlon stumbled into the truth, without understanding its significance, when he wrote, “Miller’s anti-government rants ramped up after he served seven days in jail for a pot-related conviction.” But he failed to grasp the significance of this fact, preferring instead to blame conservatives for his violence.
Avlon’s CNN performance was even worse. He said, “the rhetoric he [Miller] is parroting really did echo a lot of what we hear on far right-wing talk radio, things like ‘The Alex Jones Show’…”
Jones is not a right-wing talk-radio host. He is a marijuana enthusiast who promoted a movie called “Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom.” We noted in the past that this combustible combination of drugs and firearms, as preached by Jones, is dangerous for our country.
The liberals would prefer to focus on the guns, not the drugs.
Miller is a classic case of a pothead, possibly with paranoid or psychotic tendencies. In a post on an Alex Jones website, Miller wrote, “I stand at a point in my life where I am on probation for selling marijuana. I take urine screens frequently and I am forced to take drug classes I do not need. Before I got arrested I had 2 jobs and was selling weed to my friends and family on the side. Now I cannot find a job.”
He had only himself to blame.
Miller wrote a post on May 13, 2013, after having to answer for a drug violation.
“Mark one up for freedom today,” he said. “I stood before a fascist judge today and implied that he was a Nazi. I told him I did not recognize his authority over me and reminded him that 2 states now have legalized weed for recreational use. I also informed him that now, since the fast and furious scandal, that continuing the war on drugs is treason. He said to me ‘I may not agree with the law, but it is my duty to enforce it.’ To which I replied ‘Nazis during the war criminal trials stated that they, were just following orders and enforcing the law, and we hung those people.’”
Hence, he was completely in favor of legalizing marijuana and perhaps other drugs. This puts him firmly on the “progressive” side of the political spectrum.
“In 2010 and 2007 he was convicted of drug dealing and possession charges related to marijuana,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal said.
The paper said that Garry Frick, the owner of a bookstore, got caught in a short but dramatic debate with Jerad Miller, in which the pothead “covered everything from Bundy to the Declaration of Independence to the morality of pornography, guns and drugs in a span of less than 15 minutes. He kept misquoting things and incorrectly using words, Frick said, all the while sounding very sure of himself.”
It sounds like marijuana took its psychological toll on him.
Miller was from Lafayette, Indiana. In the local paper, Ron Wilkins & Steven Porter noted that it “appears from Jerad Miller’s rants on Facebook and YouTube, he was angry at the government because of his repeated arrests and convictions for using drugs.” This is precisely the case, based on what we know about him.
They added, “He had a trail of marijuana arrests and convictions in Tippecanoe County [Indiana] stretching back to 2007.”
Miller’s landlord was quoted as saying, “Jerad was nothing but a drug-addict loser.”
KLAS-TV in Las Vegas said his marijuana convictions included:
- Being charged in Anderson, Indiana city court in July 2003 with misdemeanor possession of marijuana/hashish, a charge for which he pleaded guilty that November.
- Miller was charged in Tippecanoe County with misdemeanor criminal recklessness with risk of bodily injury by pointing a firearm, possession of marijuana, hash oil or hashish with a prior conviction, and possession of paraphernalia.
- In December 2010 Miller was charged in Tippecanoe County with felony dealing in and possession of marijuana, hash oil or hashish, and felony possession of a controlled substance.
Avlon mentioned how the political left was once the source of much terrorism, even mentioning the Weather Underground. “In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, the anti-government violence in the United States was primarily on the left with groups like The Weathermen…” he told CNN.
But he failed to connect the dots to cases like that of Miller, falsely labeled a right-winger by Avlon.
It was communist Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn who declared, “We fight in many ways. Dope is one of our weapons. The laws against marijuana mean that millions of us are outlaws long before we actually split. Guns and grass are united in the youth underground.”
This puts Miller’s cry of “revolution” in the necessary context. It’s too bad Avlon doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.