NBC Touts Bloomberg's New Gun Control Group After Lamenting Big Money Politics Two Weeks Ago

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News featured an overwhelmingly positive profile of Michael Bloomberg's new gun control advocacy group. That built upon the network's cheerleading of Bloomberg on Wednesday morning.

Almost the entire story featured quotes from Bloomberg and supporters, with just one soundbite from the NRA. Anchor Brian Williams reported Bloomberg's $50 million pledge without a hint of irony after lamenting big money politics two weeks before.

Without batting an eye at the amount of Bloomberg's pledge, Williams introduced the "new effort financed by the independently wealthy former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg." Yet when the Supreme Court struck down the overall limit on campaign donations earlier in April, Williams sympathized with those fearing that big money could take control of elections.

Williams had quoted liberal Justice Stephen Breyer and asked what "remedies" opponents could use for the decision: "And Pete, back to the 'voice of the people' as Justice Breyer put it, for the people who think what happened today was bad, looking for remedies, what would those be?"

Kate Snow's report featured three Bloomberg quotes and two more by a supporter of his new group. In contrast, the NRA received only one soundbite. Snow did mildly press Bloomberg on one question, asking him to respond to skeptical gun owners, but that also teed him up to claim he wasn't telling anyone what to do.

Bloomberg contradicted himself: "We're not telling them anything. All we're saying is that if somebody wants to buy a gun, they should go through a background check."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

NBC
NIGHTLY NEWS
4/16/14
[7:10 p.m. EST]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The issue of gun violence and how to reduce it in this country is back on the agenda tonight, largely because of a new effort financed by the independently wealthy former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. With polls showing that an overwhelming majority of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases, this new initiative takes aim at the NRA by borrowing some of their own tactics. Our report tonight from our national correspondent Kate Snow.

(Video Clip)

KATE SNOW: (voice over) In 11 cities across the country today, support for a new organization, Every Town for Gun Safety.

CROWD: We will win!

SNOW: Michael Bloomberg, who banned smoking in public places and tried to ban supersized soft drinks, is now pledging $50 million of his own fortune to combat gun violence.

(on camera) Is that just the beginning?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, former Mayor of New York City: It's nothing compared to the 31,000 people that die in America every single year from either suicide or murder from illegal handguns. I can't think of anything better to spend my money on.

SNOW: (voice over) The effort is backed by many family members who've lost loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Stand up and go toe to toe with the gun lobby.

SNOW: Shannon Watts was a stay-at-home mom motivated to action by the Newtown shootings.  

SHANNON WATTS: This is the first time there has ever been a grass roots effort to go up against the gun lobby in this country.

SNOW: Online today, a video designed to provoke mothers to join the campaign. The strategy is an acknowledgment that what has been tried before hasn't worked. Last fall, Colorado passed a stricter law. When Bloomberg and others spent millions defending two state senators who had voted for it, Bloomberg himself became an issue. The lawmakers lost their seats.

(On camera) And for those gun-owning Americans who believe in the Second Amendment, who will think this is a New York mayor billionaire trying to tell me what to do –  

BLOOMBERG: We're not telling them anything. All we're saying is that if somebody wants to buy a gun, they should go through a background check.

SNOW: (voice over) But the NRA will be a powerful foe with more than 5 million dues-paying members.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, National Rifle Association executive vice president & CEO: The average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn't believe the fact he can own a gun is part of the problem, and doesn't like the media and all these high-profile politicians blaming him.

SNOW: Bloomberg plans to steal a page from the NRA playbook, publicizing the voting records of state and federal lawmakers.

BLOOMBERG: You shouldn't vote for somebody that's putting your child at risk.

WATTS: And these legislators will hear from moms, whether it's to thank them or shame them.

(End Video Clip)

SNOW: Bloomberg's pledge of $50 million means this group would be spending more on advocacy per year than the NRA currently does. They plan to open offices in states where the NRA has always had a strong presence.

WILLIAMS: Former mayor remaining very active.

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