The Denver Post is facing criticism from conservatives after updating a story that originally labeled the Colorado high school gunman a “Socialist.”
In a story first posted late Friday, the newspaper cited a student at Arapahoe High School who described the ideology of Karl Pierson, the 18-year-old who shot two students before turning the gun on himself.
“Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with the gunman, described him as a very opinionated Socialist,” the story originally read.
After an update, the “Socialist” label was axed.
“Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with Pierson, described him as very opinionated,” reads the updated copy.
The change was first spotted by the website BearingArms.com, which asserted that the “Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s 1984 appears to be alive and well and running the Denver Post.”
Lee Ann Colacioppo, an editor at the Post, defended the update with a pair of tweets.
“We decided not to have another student apply a label to the shooter — a label the student likely didn’t even understand ..,” she wrote, adding in a subsequent tweet that the newspaper opted “instead chose to use more concrete descriptions such as ‘he belittled Republicans.'”
Colacioppo did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The article still touches heavily on Pierson’s worldview. It quotes past Facebook posts in which he criticized Republicans and economist Adam Smith, while describing himself as a “Keynesian.” A classmate is quoted by the Post as saying Pierson “had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff.”
But the Post did not include any political labels ascribed to Pierson by his classmates. Two students who knew Pierson told the Post that the gunman’s views were “outside the mainstream,” but they did not go into detail.
A CNN profile, on the other hand, quoted an Arapahoe student who said Pierson was a “self-proclaimed communist.”