NBC News Analyst Suggests Colorado Shooting Suspect Was “Dark Trekkie” [UPDATE: Apology Issued]

One of the regular features of TrekMovie.com is to report when Star Trek interacts with the zeitgeist, usually in fun ways like references on sitcoms or other media. However, sometimes Star Trek or its fans can be portrayed in ways that are not flattering and an example of that came this morning on MSNBC when an NBC analyst suggested that the suspected murderer in the Colorado Batman movie screening mass shooting was a "dark Trekkie." Watch the clip below. [UPDATE: Van Zandt apologizes]


UPDATE 2: Van Zandt issues apology

On Monday Van Zandt went to Twitter to issue an apology to Star Trek fans. He also included a link to the original Spock saying "live long and prosper" which was a nice touch.

I thank Mr. Van Zandt for his apology.


original article

NBC analyst suggests CO theater shooter was "Dark Trekkie"

On this mornings "Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd" on MSNBC the host brought in NBC News analyst (and former FBI profiler) Clint Van Zandt to talk about the the shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. During the segment Van Zandt offered the the following analysis on the alleged shooter in the case James Eagan Holmes:

We know this was a preplanned event. This guy had to buy a ticket – one would assume in advance. He had to assemble clothing, uniform, helmet, gas mask, gas grenade, the weapons. He has to put all of this together. He didn’t just fall off a turnip truck to do this. Is this just the terrible collision between some dark Trekkie-like person’s fantasy world and reality or is it more sinister? Is there a political, religious or other type of motivation other than just someone with emotional challenges.

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Trekkies deserve an apology

Of course the real victims are those of the alleged shooter, and I am sure that the thoughts and prayers of all Trekkies are with everyone who have been directly effected by this tragedy. But even in light of that, I still feel that Mr. Van Zandnt’s statement should not go without comment. And it isn’t that he is conflating Star Trek fans with a Batman fans (it has since been reported that Holmes referred to himself as “The Joker” although he painted his hair red and not Joker-green). I question why Van Zandt feels the need to drag genre fans into the mix at all. Hardcore fans of all franchises get enough negative stereotypes from the media and don’t need to be associated with an apparent mass murderer. And using "Trekkie" as a kind of generic to lump all types of hardcore fans just makes it even more offensive to Star Trek fans.

It is the opinion of TrekMovie.com, the world’s largest independent Trek site, that Mr. Van Zandnt and MSNBC should issue a retraction and apology for dragging the millions of Star Trek fans into this tragic story. TrekMovie has contacted NBC News, MSNBC, and Mr. Van Zandt regarding this and has yet to receive a response from any. If we hear back we will update this story.

UPDATE 1: Others also picks up Van Zandt/Trekkie story

The big media observer site Gawker has also posted about this with their story "MSNBC Profiler Wonders if ‘Dark, Trekkie-Like Person’ Was Responsible for Dark Knight Shooting." A number of other outlets have listed Van Zandt amongst others who rushed to judgment, including CNN, USA Today, Reason Magazine, Media Bistro/TV Newser, and Washington Times.

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I wouldn’t worry, I took his comment to mean “Dark Knight Trekkie” meaning a dark knight fan, he just didnt know what to call a dark knight trekkie equivalant so he literally called him a “dark trekkie.”

Like trekkie for star trek, Scaper for farscape fans, etc – he just wasn’t aware what to classify a batman fan as.

So “dark” like dark knight, not dark as in evil!

But all very sad, my heart goes out to all of the families in this incident! =(

That kind of nonsense is what MSNBC specializes in. Solution: Watch FOX.

“It is the opinion of TrekMovie.com, the world’s largest independent Trek site, that Mr. Van Zandnt and MSNBC should issue a retraction and apology for dragging the millions of Star Trek fans into this tragic story. TrekMovie has contacted NBC News, MSNBC, and Mr. Van Zandt regarding this and has yet to receive a response from any. If we hear back we will update this story.”

I agree with you, Anthony, that it was an asinine thing to say, but I doubt that anyone will issue a retraction anytime soon.

What we really DO need in this crazy world is some type of movement that will combat senseless violence like what happened in Aurora, CO. I don’t know where to find it. Government? Forget it. Religion has its own problems.

Why don’t we do what the late Rodney King said in 1992–“Can’t we all just try to get along?”

Good luck, Anthony. And a nice gesture. I’ll be surprised if they respond, however.

What a tragedy.


#2. FOX? Are you kidding?

The only cable news show that doesn’t make me burst a blood vessel is CSPAN. When there is an event (I first watched it for Ronald Regan’s funeral), they turn on a camera, say why they’re there, and shut their yaps while the camera rolls. When the event is over, they turn off the cameras. No talking heads dissecting what we just saw.

(Now, if you want a real laugh, watch CSPAN’s coverage of a Parliament meeting. “We recognize the lady for Essex.” “Well, I think we should…” “Oh, sit down, you old bag!” Loads of fun!)

Probably like the people who call it “Star Track,” just another uninformed person talking… and talking. The best thing to do in the aftermath of a tragedy like this is to do more thinking than talking.

Thoughts and prayers to the people killed and wounded.

First the fire and now this. Can we please catch a break here in Colorado? (for those of you who don’t know Aurora is literally right outside Denver) And you know…this is exactly what this disgusting person wants. National coverage and fame for something so sickening. 71 people shot–12 of them dead…what’s the point of that?

I’m definitely with you on this one Anthony. This is a very sick person who should be called that in the bluntest way. Don’t sensationalize this tragedy by nicknaming him a “Dark Knight Trekkie”. Don’t give him a persona by tacking on Star Trek or the Dark Knight franchise to this psycho (which is probably exactly what he wants). Zandnt probably said it without really thinking about it. But it does smack of a very negative profiling/stereotyping. This guy didn’t buy a comic book, he committed mass murder okay?…now they’re going to be calling him THE DARK TREKKIE. A very lame and unappreciated “joke” for trekkies and the victims.

Now I suppose this killer will probably want an interview, a book deal and his OWN movie.

Charles Manson and his family probably all gathered around to watch Star Trek. Decades before that Adolf Hitler whistled showtunes inbetween ordering the deaths of millions. There’s no accounting for taste. You just have to believe for every nutjob who doesn’t get the hopeful message behind a particular piece of art or entertainment, many more millions do.

I heard the “red hair like the Joker” comment too. Pathetic. Fox was no better in their reporting. One “expert” took to calling the offender “The Joker” stating that the new Batman film’s alternate title was “The Joker’s Revenge” and I don’t recall one reference to the Joker in TDKR. This is just some nobody reporter hoping to make a name by pretending to be the first to come up with a well-known name for a sick individual who chose to murder and hurt a bunch of innocent people. Pathetic all around.

I think Holmes was more of a dark-MSNBC Analyst-like individual. Dick.

My annoyance is dwarfed by my horror, though, so I’m not giving this much thought.

@ #2 Fox News? Really? You get more factual reporting from “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central than from them.

As to the NBC News analyst- Thanks for giving more reasons to not watch NBC!

First: as others have said, best thoughts and kind wishes to everyone who was involved in this terrible tragedy.

Second: oh God, PLEASE do not let this comment thread turn into some kind of Fox-vs-MSNBC debate. That is so not the point.

Third: As Porthos said, it seems like the commentator was using Trekkie as a term for a genre fan in general (in this case a Nolan/Batman fanboy), but that doesn’t really make it any better. I really find the idea of equating “genre fan” with “crazed mass murderer” in any way to be pretty unsettling – way to buy into a negative, hurtful stereotype. So the guy was dressed like the Joker, so what? He was obviously a very disturbed, sick individual, and to make generalities from that to anyone who’s passionate about fandom is pretty dangerous.

There is a really great Tumblr, http://iamsciencestories.tumblr.com/, started by a group of people working in science who were frustrated by negative portrayals of scientists in the media (think the “mad scientist” types who are the bad guys in so many genre movies/TV shows). There’s a variety of content in there now but it started as photos and stories of scientists of all sorts, a way to break the stereotype of the old white dude in goggles and a lab coat. I almost feel like there needs to be some sort of “I am a Trekkie” or “I am a geek” meme along the same lines as the “I am Science” meme – showing that Trekkies/genre geeks are not all creepy white dudes living in their moms’ basements. (No offense to creepy basement-dwelling white dudes intended, of course.)

@ 2. Will:

Clint Van Zandt has appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, so I guess that’s not much of a solution.


The Joker has green hair, not red… so I don’t think we can infer that the shooter was trying to appear as the Joker until we know more about his motives. He may have just been going where he expected the most people to be that night.

It would be nice to live in a society in which the INDIVIDUAL is to blame for their actions, not everything else. We blame parents, we blame Bush, we blame Democrats, we blame republicans, we blame Limbaugh, we blame Batman, we blame Star Trek, we blame videogames such as Doom and Grand Theft Auto, we blame the enviorment that folks grow up in, but we NEVER place the blame on where it counts..the sick idiots that commit these acts. The punishments that these guys can suffer as a result of these crimes needs to be increased. No more getting college educations and work out sessions in prision. Punishment for crimes need to be feared.

Political Correctness and the highly biased and agenda driven national media’s need to blame everyone and everything but the individual responsible are two issues that are slowly killing this nation.


This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!! The monster who committed this heinous a d tragic crime was a soul-less, sociopathic DEVIANT. It has nothing to do with Batman, Star Trek or the man-in-the-moon!!!

This person obviously has serious psychological issues and is using Batman as the excuse and opportunity to do this.

Comparing this to Star Trek fans is beyond the beyond!!

Van Zandt doesn’t have an active Twitter account but Chuck Todd does: https://twitter.com/chucktodd/

I would suggest any Trek/genre fans on Twitter might want to POLITELY, RESPECTFULLY express their displeasure with this through there?

#15 Anthony:

Thanks for that link. Odd that this info is coming from NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly and not the police in Colorado. I guess we just have to wait and see if what he said is actually true or not.

It is PURE evil when a so-called “person” can shoot a 3 month old innocent baby at close range!!! Death penalty for this evil creature should be swift!! But not before a long period of torture do he can actually feel the consequences and pain of his actions!!!

This event can only be described as evil. Its horrific. Its also an act by one crazy individual…and comic book fans, trekkies, or any other group shouldn’t be roped in with this psycho. Shame on any reporters who do so, though we should expect that this isn’t the first and won’t be the last reporter to do so regarding this tragedy.

This is why I really abhor most commercial news services. They have no idea what they are talking about. Idiots.

One thing is certen. This Dueshbag is not a Trekie. He is a Lower then life Scum and if I really could. I would put him in the Agony Booth forever!!!!. Then Send him Straight to Hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Terrible act…..dont have words
Of course we dont regonize us star trek fan with this.
People just go and watch batman, in honour of the people who are now dead

Also. All my best wishes to all of the family and friends of the victems of this horrible evet.

15. Anthony Pascale “Not sure why he painted hair red instead of green”

Anthony, don’t forget, the Joker wore a red wig in The Dark Knight when he was blowing up that hospital. That could be the link.

Yeah, a really horrible, tragic incident. Horrible. Makes me I’ll.

As to the NBC report; a badly thought out choice of words. I’m a Trekkie and I’ve never been a fan of Nolan’s iteration of Batman from the beginning.

Blaming the very brilliant Nolan Batman Trilogy for this crime is just as stupid as blaming videogames or a political party. Just dumb. Individual did crime, individual is to blame, individual needs to be put down just like you do a rabid animal.

While I’m usually all for jumping at people who speak ill of Trekkies, I wonder if this is perhaps a battle we should let slide?
It was a stupid comment, sure, but I doubt it’s gonna lead to anything, and personally, I’m not sure we want to hog attention for ourselves at a time like this; to make it about us.

I guess if you think it’s part of some bigger picture, it may be worth fighting over this, but we should ask ourselves if we may not be a bit petty in doing so.

#27 I totaly agree with your comments however the connections will be drawn once the shock and horror of this has died down. Im soo glad that american has the death sentence for this pathetic excuse for a human being!

As for the comment made by the reporter, It was disrespectful and an apology would be welcome, But a lot of people have lost there lives – There are more important things to rerember then a stupid reporter.

i also think people may see this post as a selfish reaction from trekkie fans We all know its not but to the outside world were crazy cult fans – and as this is the largest indepandent trek site the press are going to come straight to here.

I mean no disrespect Anthony as i know you have our best wishes when you posted this but i wonder if it would be better to remove ir??


You know, I think you’re right. This nitpicking of someone’s obscure misstatement on the news won’t exactly cast a favorable light on Trekkies either, who are known, fairly or not, for being nitpickers of the smallest minutia imaginable—and I’m guilty of that myself.

Don’t know. Seems too soon, too small an issue to be talking about this when there are still dead people in that theater.

I think that this guy was meaning that fans of science fiction and comic books are all part of this geek/nerd club. To a large degree it is true. I like Star Trek and I like many other things sci-fi and fantasy, including the superhero genre. So that said, I don’t think it as an offensive statement in the least. He’s just some guy talking about fandom geeks like us. Some of us are nuts, some aren’t. That guy, was apparently a nutcase.

The spokesman wasn’t saying that all sci-fi and fantasy fans are nutcases, but he was suggesting the possibility that he may have been living in some sort of fantasy himself. I consider myself just as much of a geek as the next guy, but obviously such a thing as to go into a theater and shoot people is detestable to me. But this guy in Aurora was apparently some supervillain looking for an archenemy….in other words, a nutcase stuck in his own fantasy.

Gun control is not needed. The US constitution spells out gun rights a d WHY we have that right. Guns don’t kill people. People do. Cars, knives and ice picks can be used kill too — do you gun control idiots want to ban those too?

Criminals will always get guns if they wantt them badly enough — why should normal, same and law abiding people give up their guns?

Only an oppressive government with evil plans for its people wants the citizens to give up their guns!

What’s needed is some MORALITY and respect for life!!

Fan or no fan, he crossed over, there is no turning back!!

Comparing Trekkies with a cowardly act like this is outrageous

30, 31, “Seems too soon, too small an issue to be talking about this when there are still dead people in that theater.”

Exactly — I cringed when I saw Anthony’s tweets on this. Fine, publicly disagree with the statements if you must (and I’d prefer you do it on your own and not on behalf of Trek fans). But, come on — demanding an apology just hours after it happened? Yuck. Demanding an apology or a retraction, period? Yuck.

If the goal was to show that Trek fans aren’t all crazy and have an understanding of reality and what really matters, well, it did the opposite.

#28 and #30 have a point, absolutely, but it sometimes it just gets tiresome to forever have people making assumptions about you based on your choice in pop culture. Ugh.

Anyway, my heart continues to go out to Colorado.

My thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families in Colorado.

“It is the opinion of TrekMovie.com, the world’s largest independent Trek site, that Mr. Van Zandnt and MSNBC should issue a retraction and apology for dragging the millions of Star Trek fans into this tragic story. TrekMovie has contacted NBC News, MSNBC, and Mr. Van Zandt regarding this and has yet to receive a response from any. If we hear back we will update this story. ”

Isn’t this really just Anthony’s blog? Aren’t you taking yourself way too seriously? I’m disgusted by this.

#39 hang on there dude – whilst i disagree with the post being here i totally get were Anthony was coming from – how often does a fanbase get accused of extremism.

It was just too soon aften this sad sad tradegy

Anthony, why my comment in response to #2 comment was deleted ?

33. Sadly gun control is needed.

We have had it in the UK for many years now. If there is a single incident of gun crime in the UK then it is a major story.

My father used to own guns and was part of a gun club, so I know that gun control wont please everyone. But it would save lives.

Such sad news and my thoughts are with the victims. Yah, the dark trekkie thing is inappropriate, but would seem to be of trivial concern at this time.

I think it’s fair for him to issue an apology. He tried to group a killer with a group of people that had nothing to do with it. His remarks weren’t malicious but they were ignorant.

Remember that robbery with a sword that everybody reported was a Klingon betleH? Of course it wasn’t, but the news seem to always reference us trekkies, since we’re the best known fan group, I guess.

Trekkies are the most peaceful, law-abiding people I can imagine. I’ve never met an agressive Trekkie. I don’t see any connection. ‘NBC News analyst Clint Van Zandt’ FAIL!!!

@ 33: Sadly, gun control is an idea that will not work in the US. You can take guns away from the law abiding citizens, but that won’t keep the guns outta the hands of the psycho’s and the criminal elements. Until we start instituting incredibly harsh punishments for committing crimes, criminals are going to keep doing what they do. What is there to fear when you get sent to a prison that allows you to get a tax payer funded college education and Gym/TV time?

I for one feel better at night with a gun in the house. You never know when some idiot thug will bust into your house in the middle of the night and hold you at gun point all because they want your 42″ TV and Xbox.

This was such a tragic thing to happen but to blame a “dark-trekkie” is incredibably insulting. Absolutely discraceful to the millions upon millions of Star Trek fans out in the world to be steryotyped as sick-minded people who would go and do such a thing as this.

He doesn’t just need to retract what he said, he needs to be publicly shamed at labeling a fanbase as people who would go round shooting people.

This is nothing to do with Star Trek or it’s fans. This is the work of a very sick and mentally disturbed individual.

I hope NBC etc… issue a full apology at the very least.

It seemed pretty clear to me that the key phrase is “Dark Trekkie-like person,” not “Dark-Trekkie.” He’s using the phrase to signify a “Dark Knight” version of a Trekkie, as Batman fans have no easily identifiable moniker. So the question is, “is this just the terrible collision between [a fan]’s fantasy world and reality or is it more sinister?

Given the venue, I think it’s a valid question, and not at all a judgement on fans in general, nor is it a conflation of Star Trek with sci-fi.

The man was ignorant obviously. But I really don’t see why an apology should be expected…especially so early after the shooting.

He did not imply that Trekkies, or fan groups of any kind were evil, he was only illustrating the fantasy this man may have been living in. It was all questions, questions they were getting to the bottom of.

He was ignorant, yes, but who really cares? I remember that one old lady on the Trekkies documentary that was talking about that chick from Arkansas that had a phaser that beams her up….sure, every Star Trek fan knows that a phaser doesn’t beam you up but she didn’t…so why be offended.

Granted I realize this is a much more serious issue, but there was nothing in his statement that was meant as a jab to geek “fanatics” in general, no more than his comments about religion and politics. Who the frak really cares?!

Now in relation to that madman in Aurora, sure, we can take note of that. The man needs to be taken care of. Sent to prison…the electric chair or whatever, but after everything that just happened is it really such a big issue about what an ignorant spokesman says about sci-fi and fantasy fans?


YES…that’s exactly what I mean…oh, and Batman fans are sometimes called Batfans, but I suppose it’s not a commonly used name.