'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' Writer Gives Interview to NBC News (Video)
UPDATED: Not identified by her name on "Today," Liza Long says: "Every time I hear about a mass shooting, I think about my son."
The author of the viral blog post "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" has given an exclusive interview to NBC News, appearing on NBC's Today show Monday morning -- three days after the horrific Connecticut elementary school shootings that prompted her to write about mental illness and her fears concerning her 13-year-old son.
The post, originally published Friday on the blog The Anarchist Soccer Mom and later syndicated on Gawker, has amassed more than 2.6 million views on the latter website. In her essay written the day Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 children, Liza Long revealed she is "terrified" of her son, "Michael," whose name has been changed. A few weeks before, she wrote, he pulled a knife when asked to return overdue library books -- threatening to kill her and himself while his younger siblings locked themselves in a car -- resulting in police officers and a paramedic strapping Michael into a gurney and shuttling him to the ER.
"I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me," Long confessed. "I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys -- and their mothers -- need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness."
While Long has been commended for honesty, and certainly has touched a national nerve on a subject long glossed over by stigma, there has been some backlash against the Idaho-based mother of four.
On her personal blog Sunday, writer Sarah Kendzior countered the public kudos for Long with an equally viral post detailing Long's allegedly "vindictive and cruel posts about her children in which she fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away. In most posts, her allegedly insane and violent son is portrayed as a normal boy who incites her wrath by being messy, buying too many Apple products and supporting Obama."
Kendzior continued: "These children could be in real danger if her goal was to capitalize on the Newtown tragedy by creating a media campaign designed to give her sympathy. If I am wrong about this, I truly apologize. But there is a 13-year-old boy who has already had his reputation destroyed and who may be facing serious harm."
Facing backlash of her own from Long supporters, Kendzior has followed up with a memo clarifying that she wrote what she did because she's a parent and "a child does not deserve to have his mother embark on a media tour promoting him as a future mass murderer."
Today did not identify Long or her son by name for the interview Monday.
"We have had a variety of diagnoses," she told the camera, apparently being interviewed by an unseen producer rather than an on-air reporter. "And the latest is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder -- ADHD. He's also been diagnosed with something called intermittent explosive disorder and oppositional defiant disorder."
She said she first learned about Friday's shooting on her Facebook feed at work. "I closed the door to my office and started to shiver," she said. "Every time I hear about a mass shooting, I think about my son. And I wonder if someday I'll be that mom."
Savannah Guthrie, reporting from the field in Newtown, Conn., stressed that Today had reached out to Long's ex-husband, who relayed that not everybody with his son's condition ends up a violent criminal.
Later Monday morning, Long and Kendzior joined forces to release a statement on "the need for a respectful national conversation on mental health," writing: "Whatever disagreements we have had, we both believe that the stigma attached to mental illness needs to end. We need to provide affordable, quality mental health care for families. We need to provide support for families who have a relative who is struggling. We both agree that privacy for family members, especially children, is important. Neither of us anticipated the viral response to our posts. We love our children and hope you will respect their privacy."
This video excerpting Long's interview, teased Sunday on the Nightly News, shows Long announcing her name.