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GOP rep backpedals after pushing misinformation on K.C. shooting

Rep. Tim Burchett falsely blamed an “illegal alien” for the Kansas City Super Bowl parade shooting. The Republican is now backpedaling, but not well.

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In the immediate aftermath of a tragic event, turning to social media can be extremely frustrating. On the one hand, users can access information quickly. On the other hand, misinformation ricochets with such intensity that users often end up feeling misled and confused.

The problem is made worse when elected officials in positions of authority endorse the misinformation as if it were true.

Take Rep. Tim Burchett, for example.

Last week, after the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl celebration, the Tennessee Republican published a social media message that read, “One of the Kansas City Chiefs victory parade shooters has been identified as an illegal Alien.”

Part of the problem with the message, of course, was the underlying effort to tie the deadly shooting to an anti-immigrant agenda. But more importantly, the congressman was simply wrong: The shooter wasn’t an undocumented immigrant, and the man in the photograph accompanying Burchett’s tweet wasn’t a gunman.

As The Daily Beast reported, it took a while, but the GOP lawmaker is now backpedaling.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) backtracked on Monday afternoon and deleted a tweet that wrongly identified a local resident as being an “illegal alien” and one of the gunmen in the Kansas City Super Bowl parade shooting. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Burchett only deleted the post after the outlet contacted him on Monday and asked about the tweet, which falsely claimed Kansas native Denton Loudermill was one of the suspected shooters.

In Burchett’s latest message, published roughly 24 hours ago, the Tennessean wrote, “It has come to my attention that in one of my previous posts, one of the shooters was identified as an illegal alien. This was based on multiple, incorrect news reports stating that. I have removed the post.”

That was a step in the right direction, though the congressman’s explanation wasn’t quite right, either: Reports from independent local media showed the man in question being briefly detained, but they did not identify him as either the shooter or an undocumented immigrant.

Or put another way, after Burchett made a claim that wasn’t true, he offered an explanation based on details that were also not true.

The local football fan who was falsely accused is now scrambling to clear his name — he’s reportedly received death threats — and it’s not yet clear whether the Republican congressman intends to issue an apology to the innocent man he featured online.

But complicating matters further, Burchett didn’t have credibility to spare. Ron Filipkowski did a nice job summarizing some of the GOP lawmaker’s greatest hits, and it’s not a record the congressman should be proud of.