CBS Blames Jovan Belcher Murder-Suicide on 'Gun Culture' in NFL and U.S.

Jim Axelrod filed a completely one-sided report on Tuesday's CBS This Morning linking the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide to a lack of gun control inside the NFL  – and in the country in general. Axelrod turned to only pro-gun control advocates as talking heads – Brady Center flack Marcellus Wiley, NBC's Bob Costas, and New York Times sportswriter William Rhoden.

Rhoden blamed the widespread availability of guns in the U.S. for sportsmen getting involved in violent incidents: "Why do athletes love guns? Well, the reality is that this is a gun culture. Lots of people - and lots of people with money - own guns." The correspondent also outlined that liberal newspaper journalist "says the issue of guns and athletes is about youth, money, and perceived power." [audio clips available here; video below the jump]

Anchor Charlie Rose pointed out in his introduction to Axelrod's report that "there are no official numbers, but some players and coaches say 50 to 90 percent of NFL players own guns. Jim Axelrod looks at why athletes and firearms go together so often."

The CBS reporter then played two three-year-old soundbites from Wiley, a former NFL defensive end and "gun control advocate," speaking at a Brady Center event. Axelrod then outlined a series of "gun violence" incidents involving pro-football players:

AXELROD: Unfortunately, gun violence is not a new story for the NFL. In 2006, police found six firearms - including two assault rifles - in the home of then-Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson. In 2008, former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun at a nightclub. In 2009, retired star quarterback Steve McNair was shot to death by his mistress in a murder-suicide.

William Rhoden, New York Times Sports Columnist; Screen Cap From 4 December 2012 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgAfter playing a clip from Bob Costas's Sunday gun control rant in the middle of a football telecast, the correspondent played two soundbites from Rhoden. He ended the segment by hinting that the NFL needed to implement more gun control measures on its players:

AXELROD: The NFL has been out front of the problem. The league has had a strict gun policy in place since 1996 that prohibits players from bringing guns to any facility or event affiliated with the league. But that was not enough to stop a tragedy in Kansas City this past weekend.

This is the second time in less than a week that CBS This Morning has promoted gun control. On Friday, the morning show spotlighted liberal comedian Stephen Colbert making fun of a proposed gun-friendly dormitory at the University of Colorado.

The full transcript of Jim Axelrod's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:


NORAH O'DONNELL: We have disturbing new details in the murder-suicide case of NFL player Jovan Belcher. Police tell the Kansas City Star that Belcher's mother saw him kiss his girlfriend on the forehead, saying he was sorry. Seconds after, he shot her on Saturday. He also kissed their baby daughter and apologized to his own mother.

CHARLIE ROSE: Kansas City police say Belcher legally owned the handgun he used to kill Kasandra Perkins and then himself. There are no official numbers, but some players and coaches say 50 to 90 percent of NFL players own guns.

Jim Axelrod looks at why athletes and firearms go together so often.

[CBS News Graphic: "Football And FireArms: Growing Concern Over NFL Players And Guns"]

MARCELLUS WILEY, GUN CONTROL ADVOCATE, BRADY CAMPAIGN (from Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence event): I'm 21 years old. I have a lot of money in one pocket, and a gun in the other pocket, and I'm saying, please leave me alone.

JIM AXELROD (voice-over): This is former pro-football player Marcellus Wiley, a gun control advocate, speaking three years ago at the Brady Center about why he used to carry a gun.

WILEY: I remember taking the same gun to the nightclubs, to the restaurants where I would go eat – not to be a villain, but just, really, in a warped sense of mind - an identity - trying to protect myself.

AXELROD: Unfortunately, gun violence is not a new story for the NFL. In 2006, police found six firearms - including two assault rifles - in the home of then-Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson. In 2008, former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun at a nightclub. In 2009, retired star quarterback Steve McNair was shot to death by his mistress in a murder-suicide.

Jovan Belcher, Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker; NFL Football Player; Screen Cap From 4 December 2012 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgAfter the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide this past weekend, sportscaster Bob Costas set off a bit of a controversy when he decided to address the issue of gun control during a NFL broadcast.

BOB COSTAS (from NBC Sports coverage): If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

WILLIAM RHODEN, NEW YORK TIMES SPORTS COLUMNIST: Why do athletes love guns? Well, the reality is that this is a gun culture. Lots of people - and lots of people with money - own guns.

AXELROD: New York Times sportswriter William Rhoden says the issue of guns and athletes is about youth, money, and perceived power.

RHODEN: The problem is that many of them don't outgrow their environment. Our new national pastime - which is this violent sport- has very deep-seated issues.

AXELROD: The NFL has been out front of the problem. The league has had a strict gun policy in place since 1996 that prohibits players from bringing guns to any facility or event affiliated with the league. But that was not enough to stop a tragedy in Kansas City this past weekend. For "CBS This Morning', I'm Jim Axelrod in New York.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center