I’ll be quite frank: I have very little respect for the Associated Press and the quality of their reporting, which tends to range from mediocre to abysmal in terms of factual accuracy, and which seems to be far more interested in publishing propaganda in recent years than reflecting reality.

Their latest attempt to generate controversy, “Witnesses: Semi-automatic gunfire dominated biker shootout,” is perhaps the most dishonest and incompetent bit of reporting I’ve ever had the misfortune to read.

The premise for the article is to promote the recent biker-generated conspiracy theory that Waco law enforcement officers did almost all the shooting at the May 18 shootout at a Waco restaurant called Twin Peaks.

The article begins:

First came a few pistol shots, several witnesses said, then a barrage of rifle fire during the shootout last month at a Waco restaurant favored by bikers. But authorities still have not said how many of the dead and wounded were the result of police fire.

Police have identified only one assault weapon, a semi-automatic gun that fires high-powered ammunition, among the firearms confiscated from bikers, and that was found in a locked car after the shooting ended. But several witnesses — at least three of them veterans with weapons training — told The Associated Press that semi-automatic gunfire dominated the May 17 shootout that left nine dead and 18 wounded.

The assertion that “semi-automatic gunfire dominated the May 17 shootout”—and therefore must have come from police officers—shows an incredible amount of ignorance, incompetence, and bias.

You know why “semi-automatic gunfire” dominates almost every kind of shooting? It’s because semi-automatics have been around for more than 130 years, and the various semi-auto designs are by far the most popular action types in the United States for handguns and rifles (and are trending to overtake pump-actions for shotguns as well).

There were 118 handguns recovered from bikers at the scene.

You know what the majority of them were?  Semi-automatic pistols.

In this conspiracy-theory-generated nonsense story, the unnamed Associated Press reporter attempts to conflate “semi-automatic” with the AR-15s carried by some of the officers on the scene, when “semi-automatic” describes the majority of the guns carried by the bikers as well.

In a desperate attempt to feign credibility, the reporter then uses the “appeal to authority” fallacy, citing the “expertise” of three bikers because they are military veterans.

“I heard, ‘pop, pop,’ small caliber, and then a rapid succession of shots from what sounded to me like an assault rifle,” said William English, a former Marine and Iraq war veteran who was approaching the front door of the Twin Peaks restaurant for a meeting of biker clubs.

You know what? A lot of Marines went to Iraq. The overwhelming majority were turning wrenches, unloading supplies, and filing paperwork. Only a small percentage were infantrymen, and even many infantrymen know very little about firearms outside the weapons they were issued.

The same can be said for the next “expert.”

Steve Cochran, a Navy veteran and member of the Sons of the South club, pulled into the parking lot facing the patio minutes before the shooting began. He was to help set up for the meeting of the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a group that advocates for biker rights and motorcycle safety.

“I heard one pistol shot. All the rest of the shots I heard were assault rifles,” said Cochran, who took cover behind a crane about 30 yards away. He walked the shooting scene with the AP several days later, showing what he saw and his vantage point.

Again, Cochran’s story does not match up at all with reports that allege the shooting started with Banditos gang members opening fire on Cossacks gang members (or vice versa), and yet we’re supposed to find his opinion credible because he was in the Navy?

Even more absurd was Cochran’s claim that he heard “suppressed weapons.”

Cochran said he heard suppressed rounds fired by assault weapons, which are still audible but sound different than a handgun firing.

There are dozens of photos of officers from various agencies at Twin Peaks immediately following the shooting. Not one of them shows a suppressed weapon, and yet we’re supposed to take Cochran’s  claim as valid, because he was in the Navy?

The author then appeals to authority, yet again.

Ron Blackett, a Confederation of Clubs and Independents leader who is a former Army and Coast Guard officer, also reported hearing one or two pistol shots followed by a blast of assault rifle fire from where he was parked in a lot behind Twin Peaks.

None of these witnesses saw anything, and all echo the same, relatively new and incredulous claim that the 118 handguns recovered just fired one or two shots.

It’s horrible that “biker truthers” are attempting to rewrite accounts of what happened on May 17 at Twin Peaks weeks after the fact, but the Associated Press’s attempt to place the blame for the casualties on law enforcement through a patchwork of misdirection, ignorance, deception and false appeals to authority that are nothing more than hearsay borders upon being criminal.

Update: The AP issues a massive correction, as noted by Michelle Malkin.