Howard Kurtz Compares Gun Debate to Civil Rights, Gay Marriage

At The Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz compares the gun debate to civil rights and the gay marriage issue. This despite his wanting the media to be "fair to all sides" on the issue.

After suggesting a "media agenda" on the gun issue, Kurtz notes "There was certainly a media agenda during the battle for civil rights in the late 1950s and 1960s. Television helped shine a spotlight on Alabama Gov. George Wallace and other Southern politicians who were fighting to preserve a segregationist society." Oh, so is the NRA the new George Wallace?

Kurtz hits the press not only for failing to pay enough attention to the gun debate, but for not holding politicians accountable when the assault weapons ban expired:

"Once Bill Clinton pushed through a ban on AK-47s and other assault weapons in 1994, the media largely lost interest in the issue, even when the Republican Congress let it expire a decade later.

"George W. Bush said he would sign an extension of the ban, which had 68 percent support in one poll, but didn’t lift a finger on its behalf. The press reacted with bland headlines such as this one in The New York Times: 'Efforts to Renew Weapons Ban Falters on Hill.'

"Nor did the media make a fuss when the Democrats, deeming the issue a political loser, made no effort to revive the ban in 2009 and 2010, when Barack Obama was in the White House and the party controlled both the House and the Senate.

"During this year’s presidential campaign, there was one question asked about guns at the second debate. Otherwise, the press followed the politicians’ lead and Etch-a-Sketched the issue off the screen."

So when Kurtz argues the media have not devoted enough attention to guns, he means that they haven't given enough focus to gun regulations. But the press can still be on the "right side of history" with guns, as it was with civil rights:

"News organizations were accused of being liberal, but they were on the right side of history in exposing practices that were fundamentally wrong. Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus would have been for naught had the media not made her a symbol of racial injustice."

And Kurtz concludes:

"The time is therefore ripe for the media to lead a national debate on how to prevent such tragedies, when the horror is fresh in our minds."

(h/t National Review)

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