NPR Touts Obama Using Navy Yard Memorial Service to Boost Gun Control

On Monday's Morning Edition, NPR's Scott Horsley boosted President Obama's push for new gun control measures at the Sunday memorial service for the victims of the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Horsley played four soundbites of Obama bemoaning the apparent lack of action on this issue, while including just one clip from the NRA's Wayne LaPierre.

The correspondent also asserted that two pro-gun control state legislators in Colorado were "recalled by voters after a campaign fueled by the National Rifle Association." In reality, gun control supporters spent seven times more money in the recall than gun rights supporters, as reported by CBS This Morning earlier in September.

Host David Greene led into Horsley's report by noting that "the President said the nation must confront what he called an epidemic of gun violence. But after failing to push a gun control bill through Congress, Obama now says change will have to come from outside Washington." The NPR journalist continued briefly touching on the actual remembrance of the 12 victims of the shooting, including a clip of the reading of their names as a bell tolled. He also played a soundbite of the chief executive commemorating the dead.

Horsley then pointed out that "this is the fifth time this president's had to gather with the community in mourning over mass murder. The Washington Navy Yard joins a growing list of once-peaceful settings that were suddenly transformed into bloody combat zones: Fort Hood, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; and Newtown, Connecticut." The journalist inserted the soundbite of LaPierre after playing his first two clips of the President injecting the controversial issue into the solemn occasion.

The NPR correspondent added two more pro-gun control excerpts from the President, and ended the segment by underlining that "Obama said that change is the real way to honor the victims of last week's shooting. Tears and prayers, he said, are not enough."

This isn't the worst example of pro-Obama bias from Horsley, despite the four-to-one slant to the left in soundbites. Back in June 2012, he singled out a supporter of the President who practically deified the Democrat:

SCOTT HORSLEY: By the time the President finished speaking, the rain had stopped, and a little sunshine was peeking through the clouds. That gave David O'Donnell of Portsmouth one more reason to be impressed with Mr. Obama.
                                   
DAVID O'DONNELL: See what his voice does? It clears up the weather, too. It clears up the economy, creates jobs, helps education, and straightens out the weather.

The full transcript of Scott Horsley's report from Monday's Morning Edition on NPR:


DAVID GREENE: President Obama remembered victims of a mass shooting in the United States. Twelve people were killed a week ago when a civilian contractor entered the Washington Navy Yard with a sawed-off shotgun. The President said the nation must confront what he called an epidemic of gun violence. But after failing to push a gun control bill through Congress, Obama now says change will have to come from outside Washington.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Flags flying at half-staff billowed in the late summer breeze yesterday, as thousands of people gathered on the parade ground not far from the navy yard for a solemn roll call of the victims of last week's shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from memorial service): Michael Wells Arnold. (bell rings) Martin John Bodrog. (bell rings)

HORSLEY: None of the victims is a statistic, President Obama said. Each had a unique story – the dedicated father; the loyal hockey fan; the man who gave dictionaries to every third grader in his county.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They're your neighbors, like Arthur Daniels, out there on the weekend, polishing his white Crown Victoria; and Kenneth Proctor, with his beloved yellow Mustang – who, if you asked, would fix your car, too.

HORSLEY: There's nothing routine about their loss, the President said. And yet, this is the fifth time this president's had to gather with the community in mourning over mass murder. The Washington Navy Yard joins a growing list of once-peaceful settings that were suddenly transformed into bloody combat zones: Fort Hood, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; and Newtown, Connecticut. That's on top of the everyday gun violence that Obama says gives the United States a firearm murder rate ten times that of other developed countries.

OBAMA: It ought to be a shock to all of us as a nation, and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation.

HORSLEY: Obama notes both Britain and Australia successfully acted to crack down on mass killings after a single massacre in each country. Here in the U.S., though, he warned about a creeping sense of resignation.

OBAMA: After all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary, nothing happens.

HORSLEY: After last year's massacre of 20 elementary schoolchildren, Obama vowed to use all the power of his presidency to push for new gun safety legislation, including universal background checks. Despite widespread public support, though, that measure stalled in the Senate. And earlier in this month, two state lawmakers in Colorado, who backed similar legislation, were recalled by voters after a campaign fueled by the National Rifle Association.

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre argued on 'Meet the Press' yesterday there's no reason to subject more gun buyers to background checks, noting that checks failed to stop the shooters believed responsible for three of the mass shootings cited by the President.

WAYNE LAPIERRE (from NBC's "Meet the Press"): So, the Aurora shooter in Colorado gets checked and is cleared. The Tucson shooter gets checked and gets cleared. Aaron Alexis goes through the federal and state check, and gets cleared, because the mental health system makes this person completely unrecognized.

HORSLEY: At yesterday's memorial service, Obama acknowledged the need for better mental health care, and he's ordered a review of security at all military bases. Still, the President says neither of those factors can fully explain America's dubious record of bloodshed.

OBAMA: What's different in America is it's easy to get your hands on a gun.

HORSLEY: Nodding to the difficult politics of gun control, Obama did not suggest he'll try again to push legislation through Congress. By now, it should be clear, he said, change in Washington will not happen until the demand for it comes from the American people.

OBAMA: And it may not happen tomorrow, and it may not happen next week. It may not happen next month. But it will happen, because it's the change that we need, and it's a change overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans.

HORSLEY: Obama said that change is the real way to honor the victims of last week's shooting. Tears and prayers, he said, are not enough. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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