In Light of Trayvon Martin Case, NBC Panel Goes After Guns

NBC incessantly talked about race and racism after the Trayvon Martin shooting, but on Monday race took a back seat to guns as the problem at the heart of the case. On Monday's Today show, host Matt Lauer cited comedian Bill Cosby and asked if the media has focused too much on race "when guns are the real problem?"

Thus the liberal discussion shifted from race to guns as the Today's Professionals panel responded in the affirmative. Attorney Star Jones avowed that "the issue is guns."And citing his own business experience, former CNBC host Donny Deutsch insisted "when you go after the guns you're solving problems."

Meanwhile, Lauer cast a foreboding tone when, as the panel highlighted the "problem" of guns, he reported that the handgun used in the shooting of Trayvon Martin was "legal" and noted that 47 percent of Americans own a firearm.

The panel admitted that guns, over race, are the real problem in the case but just last Friday NBC's chief medical editor said that America doesn't talk enough about race – a strange claim considering that the network went so far as to air a story with dishonestly edited audio from George Zimmerman's 911 call that made it sound that he profiled Trayvon Martin for his race.

In fact, the Today show highlighted race so much that co-host Hoda Kotb decreed Skittles as a "symbol of racial injustice." Martin was carrying Skittles with him when he was shot.

And over the weekend, a senior official at the National Rifle Administration lit into the media as a "national disgrace" for its sensational coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 16 on Today at 8:20 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

MATT LAUER: Let's move on to the Trayvon Martin story. Bill Cosby weighed in with some comments in an interview over the weekend. It was interesting to hear Mr. Cosby talk. One of the things he said is perhaps we need to start this discussion on guns as opposed to race. Has the media focused too much on race, Star, in this issue, because it's explosive, when guns are the real problem?

STAR JONES, attorney and former prosecutor: I just –

LAUER: By the way, this was a legal hand gun.

JONES: Absolutely. I just attended my 25th anniversary of the District Attorney's over in Brooklyn. Almost to a person, we had this discussion. They all said it was gun-related, that it was not about race per-se. The investigation, and the lack thereof, was about race. But the issue is guns.

DONNY DEUTSCH, chairman, Deutsch, Inc.: Yeah, I was so happy to hear Cosby say that, and he says a lot of things that ruff a lot of people. But in reality, there are going to be racists. And when journalists came out and said every 17 year-old black man should know this could happen to them, I don't think that helps. I think that –

JONES: But it's true. You need to live in the truth, Donny, in this. It's true.

DEUTSCH: Star, I don't know. Is that really, really, really true?

JONES: It's absolutely really, really true.

BOBBY FLAY, chef and restauranteur: When this case goes to trial, it's going to be about race for sure. There's no question about it, guns are going to go out the window.

DEUTSCH: But as a guy who ran a business, when you go after the guns you're solving problems. By highlighting race here there's no – and by the way, I don't agree with that, that every single – and this, I know it's a white guy talking, so dumb white guy stuff, I don't believe that that's true and I think – there's a lot of exploitation going on.

JONES: You know what? I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks talking to families that have lots and lots of money, living in trailer parks. And everything in between. And to a one, you have a 17 year-old black kid, you know your son might not come home.

LAUER: Let me go back to guns for a second. By the way, Bill Cosby revealed in that interview that at one point, he had a permit to carry a hand gun. What percentage of people in this country do you think own a gun? Not a handgun, any kind of a gun?

DEUTSCH: 25 percent.

FLAY: I was going to say 20 percent.

JONES: I'd say about 40 percent.

LAUER: 47 percent, according to a recent poll.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014