ABC Touts Gun-Toting Granny's Self Defense; CBS Ignores

Robin Roberts, ABC On Thursday's "Good Morning America," the ABC morning show provided a detailed account of an 85-year old great grandmother who thwarted a burglar by pulling a gun on him and then kept the criminal at bay while waiting for police. CBS's "Early Show," however, has thus far ignored the story. On NBC, "Today" provided a scant 15 second news brief on Wednesday.

GMA co-host Robin Roberts appeared impressed with Pennsylvania resident Leda Smith. She interviewed the grandmother and listened as the senior citizen recounted arriving home to find someone inside her house: "...I had my gun under a cushion on a chair. I picked up the gun. I turned around and I snapped it shut and I cocked it and when I did that, he turned around and his eyes were kind of big and he said, 'I didn't do it! I didn't do it!'"

Generally, the three network morning shows have shown an aversion to positive gun news. In late June, when the Supreme Court historically declared that the Second Amendment is an individual right, "Good Morning America," "Today" and "The Early Show" devoted a combined three minutes and 33 seconds of coverage. Back on June 27, the day after the decision came down, "Early Show," which skipped any reporting of the armed grandmother, featured a mere 30 seconds on the Supreme Court's ruling, a total that came nowhere near the four minutes they used to discuss how to Feng Shui your house for pets.

Leda Smith, ABC In comparison, co-host Robin Roberts lauded this most recent example of an American citizen defending her home. She marveled to Ms. Smith, "The person that made a mistake was that 17-year-old that went into your home." And though "Today" offered very little coverage, reporter Amy Robach did assert that the "85-year-old Pennsylvania grandmother refused to be a victim of crime."

A transcript of the August 20 "Today" news brief and the August 21 GMA segment, which aired at 7:31am, follows:

8/20/08 8:09am

AMY ROBACH: And this week an 85 year old Pennsylvania grandmother refused to be a victim of crime. In fact, when a teenager broke into her home, she grabbed her gun. She cornered him and then she marched him into the living room and made him call the police.

8/21/08 7:31am

ROBIN ROBERTS: But first our next guest is a woman you don't want to mess with. When Leda Smith found a burglar in her home, she didn't panic. When police arrived she was waiting with them with the burglar on the floor. And did I mention Leda has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Well, here's the story she'll be telling them for a long time. 85-year-old, though she never thought she'd have to use it [sic] until Sunday afternoon when she came home and saw her back door had been kicked in and an intruder hiding in the corner.

LEDA SMITH: And I motioned with the gun. He went ahead of me out to the hallway to -- in the living room and we got by the telephone. And I said, call the cops.

ROBERTS: The stunned burglar did as he was told.

[911 tape]

INTRUDER: Yes, um, there's a ma'am here and she thinks I broke into the house, which I didn't.

ROBERTS: Then he handed her the phone.

SMITH: This is Leda Smith. And I confirm I caught this boy in my house.

911 OPERATOR: You come home and found a boy, a male in your house that's not supposed to here.

SMITH: Yes, he's here, I got the gun on him.

ROBERTS: She held her aim as a 911 dispatcher transferred the great grandmother to a state police officer.

DISPATCHER: We got a lady on the line who has somebody a possible home invasion possibly at gunpoint. She has him at gunpoint.

SECOND DISPATCHER: What was it again?

DISPATCHER: Possible home invasion and has the actor at gunpoint.

SMITH: Can you come out right away? I left here and this boy was going out my driveway and I came back and he's in my house.

DISPATCHER: Is he there now?

SMITH: Yes, I've got a gun on him.

DISPATCHER: You have a gun on him, okay.

ROBERTS: The granny with the gun skillfully kept the intruder on the floor until police arrived.

SMITH: I was glad I didn't have to shoot him, because I was mad enough to do it.

ROBERTS: And the 17-year-old suspect faces charges of attempted burglary. And the great grandmother who stopped him right in his tracks is with us right now. Mrs. Leda Smith. It is so good to see you and to meet you. You're wondering what all the fuss is about.

SMITH: Yes.

ROBERTS: And you wanted to make a correct. It wasn't the kitchen door. It was--

SMITH: It was the back sun porch door.

ROBERTS: That's very special to you because of the glass.

SMITH: Yes, beveled glass and he broke one.

ROBERTS: And that's hard to replace and that's --

SMITH: They said they couldn't.

ROBERTS: That's what you were thinking. All right. You come home. There's this intruder in your home. You didn't panic. You weren't frightened at all?

SMITH: No. He was but not me.

ROBERTS: No? And you said you had seen him on your way out. He had approached you in front of your house or something?

SMITH: Before I took this lady home, we were going to the house to the kitchen door and when I opened the door to leave, he was standing with his hand up like this like he's going to knock on the door. Well, I knew who he was seeing him at a distance, you know, and he says, "Your house for sale?" I said, "What?" And he says, "Your house for sale? I said, no, it isn't and he turned and walked out the driveway--

ROBERTS: And you left--

SMITH: --And I got in the car and took Ruth and we went to Smithfield.

ROBERTS: And then when you came back you saw that the door had been kicked in?

SMITH: No, I didn't see because my house is -- the kitchen is out like this and one bedroom -- this is indented.

ROBERTS: So when did you know you had an intruder in the home?

SMITH: When I started taking off my jacket because I was going to change my clothes. And it just -- I knew there was someone in there because the door was open into the living room from the sun porch and I never leave that door open and I walked over to the door and I saw the outside door was broke. And there was a vase broken and some things were moved and I thought, he's in here somewhere or somebody is in here. So I laid my jacket down and went through the hallway and I know he heard me coming because I had heels on. And I have hardwood floors. And when I got over to the door I just saw a glimpse of his back sideways going over in the corner and I walked in the door and I looked over at him. He didn't -- he had his face up in the corner of the house like that. And when I passed him, passed the end of the bed and I had my gun under a cushion on a chair. I picked up the gun. I turned around and I snapped it shut and I cocked it and when I did that, he turned around and his eyes were kind of big and he said, "I didn't do it. I didn't do it." First I said, "What are you doing in my house?"

ROBERTS: So you did have -- you did talk to him.

SMITH: "Uh-huh. Yeah, I didn't do it. I didn't do it. They did it." I thought, is there somebody else in there? And I backed up so the wall was behind me and nobody could get behind me."

ROBERTS: You were thinking.

SMITH: I just kept -- kept the gun on him.

ROBERTS: And you had him walk down the hall. You had the gun on him and you got him to pick up the phone and call 911. I want to hear a little more of the 911 call.

[911 tape]

DISPATCHER: We've got a lady on the line who has somebody, a possible home invasion. She has him at gunpoint.

SECOND DISPATCHER: What was it again?

DISPATCHER: Possible home invasion and she has the actor at gunpoint.

SMITH: Yes, I've got a gun on him.

DISPATCHER: You have a gun on him, okay.

ROBERTS: They sound a little bit shocked there. How long did it take for them to come and did they tell you what to do?

SMITH: 15, 20 minutes. That's all.

ROBERTS: 15, 20 -- so what's happening during that whole time?

SMITH: I had him on the floor and they told me to put him on the floor and I stood there behind the couch. He was in front of the couch on the floor. And I just stood there like this and my arm was getting tired. Because I've been taking therapy on my shoulder for three times a week.

ROBERTS: Bless your heart.

SMITH: But every time he moved his head, I would say, "Lay still. Lay still" and he'd turn his head back over and then the police come in and they said that they were out there and I said "We're in here" and they come in and I laid my gun down because they told me to lay it down on 911 and said when you hear them, you lay the gun down and they said, I don't want somebody to make a mistake. Put your hands up a little bit so I did."

ROBERTS: The person that made a mistake was that 17-year-old that went into your home. I know you have some family members that are here. You have your daughter, a granddaughter and a grandson that are here.

SMITH: Great grandson.

ROBERTS: Great grandson, that's right, that are here with you. So four generations of your family and I know they're very happy that you're safe and sound and just proud of what you did and how you took care of your home.

SMITH: They were more excited than I was.

ROBERTS: They were. Mrs. Smith, thank you so much.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org