ChiTrib Also Biases Coverage of Gun Ban Appeal

Chicago, like Washington, D.C., has a stringent gun ban. So naturally the move by the District to defend the ban before the Supreme Court will be big news in the Windy City. Yet that doesn't excuse the Chicago Tribune's James Oliphant for breezing over gun rights advocates in his article, "D.C. gun case may hit Chicago."

Oliphant began by telling his readers that gun rights advocates would come gunning for Chicago's gun ban if they succeed before the high Court.:

WASHINGTON - Those who would do away with Washington's near-total ban on handguns will tell you point-blank their next target: Chicago.

Gun-rights advocates scored a stunning success earlier this year when a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in Washington swept aside the District of Columbia's ban on owning handguns, which had been in place since 1976.

On Tuesday, the district government appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. If the court takes the case, as many observers believe it will, it could place Chicago's handgun ban, as well as similar laws nationwide, in jeopardy.

"There is reason to be concerned at this point," said Thomas Mannard, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

"Chicago would be the logical follow-up," said Robert Levy, a libertarian activist who filed the case against the D.C. ban. Levy, too, wants the Supreme Court to take the case, making this a rare instance when both sides in a dispute hope an appeal goes forward.

And those six words are all Trib readers get from pro-gun rights advocates in Oliphant's article. Mannard is also not quoted in the rest of the story but gun control advocates from D.C. Mayor Andrian Fenty to Brady Center's Dennis Henigan get considerable ink.

Indeed, gun control advocates get 15 times as many words in Oliphant's article, commenter Bruce complained on the Trib's "The Swamp" Web log:

The article in today's Trib, linked above, is fully up (or more precisely, down) to Swamp standards.

The headline is all about the gun-law challenge. But the reporter, Mr. Oliphant, doesn't bother to actually talk to the people and groups who brought the challenge.

Only one "gun-rights" advocate, Robert Levy, is quoted, a total of 7 [sic] words. By contrast, six "gun-rights" opponents are quoted a total of 90 words.

And the issue is framed as a matter of "pro-gun" groups versus "gun ban" groups, a wording and framing that (to say the least) is exactly the way haters of 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights would like to frame the issue.

This is "balanced reporting", Tribune style.

Related NewsBusters post: "WaPo Skews Supreme Court Gun Story in Favor of Gun Ban Defenders."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.