Likewise, New York’s Poughkeepsie Journal, whose offices are an hour’s drive from Newtown, contacted experts at the Anderson Center for Autism in neighboring Staatsburg, who threw cold water on hype surrounding the shooting.

“That’s such a far-fetched connection,” Sudi Kash, Anderson’s director of clinical studies, told reporter Nina Schutzman. “With Asperger’s, there might be social interaction or communication difficulties, to varying degrees of severity. But this?”

Unfortunately, the more far-fetched an idea, the more appealing it often is to the media, and while it’s natural to ask questions about a gunman’s mental health in the wake of a shooting spree, some outlets inevitably reach too far.


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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.