Morning Shows Spare a Scant Two and a Half Minutes for 'Landmark' Gun Ruling

Despite referring to it as "landmark" and "huge," the network morning shows on Tuesday mostly ignored Monday's Supreme Court ruling, which declared the Second Amendment a fundamental right that cannot be violated by state governments. Good Morning America, The Early Show and Today devoted just two minutes and 34 seconds to discussing the important decision.

ABC's GMA offered 21 seconds with a single Juju Chang news brief during the two hour program. This didn't stop the show's hosts from covering crucial topics, such as spending eight and a half minutes dissecting whether Michael Douglas' ex-wife deserves residuals from his upcoming Wall Street sequel.

CBS's Early Show allowed 25 seconds for Jan Crawford to explain the significance of the decision. Host Chris Wragge rushed, "Now what's the importance, if you can just tell us, quickly, of this 5-4 decision?"

Crawford exclaimed, "Chris, this was a huge ruling that basically extended gun rights nationwide." Apparently, it wasn't as compelling as the five minutes and 15 seconds the same show devoted to cooking flank steak for the Fourth of July.

NBC provided the most coverage, one minute and 48 seconds. This included an anchor brief by news reader Nancy Morales and a full report by Pete Williams. Morales described the decision as "landmark." Williams actually included a brief clip of NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre promising more lawsuits against cities and states that don't follow the court's instructions.

The lack of coverage follows the same pattern from 2008 when the Supreme Court overturned Washington D.C.'s gun ban. On June 27, 2008, all three morning shows gave a total of three minutes and 33 seconds to the story. Early Show, instead, focused four minutes on the extremely relevant subject of how to Feng Shui your house for pets.

A transcript of the coverage can be found below:

GMA

06/29/10

7:14

JUJU CHANG: Chicago's mayor is vowing to rewrite the city's ban on handguns, after a Supreme Court decision made it unenforceable. The high court ruled Americans have a basic right to own a handgun for self-defense, wherever they live. Chicago may instead demand that gun owners buy insurance, register guns with local police and equip them with traceable bullets.

Today

06/29/10

7:17

NATALIE MORALES: Major cities across the U.S. are bracing for new challenges to their gun control laws. On Monday the Supreme Court's ruling on Chicago's handgun ban said an individual right to keep and bear arms is among the fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.

8:02

NATALIE MORALES: Some big cities in the U.S. are bracing for new battles over gun laws, following a landmark ruling Monday by the Supreme Court. NBC's justice correspondent Pete Williams has more. Pete, good morning.

PETE WILLIAMS: Natalie, for the first time in the nation's history, the court said the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, limits what state and local governments can do in restricting gun ownership.

POLICE VIDEO: We have got shots fired over here.

WILLIAMS: The ruling means the end of a 38-year-old Chicago law strictly banning handguns, challenged by city residents who wanted to have a gun at home for self-defense. By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court said the nation's founders considered the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms among the fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty. Chicago officials said they might now try requiring gun registration or training courses. But, advocates of gun rights vow to fight any city that tries to raise barriers to gun ownership.

WAYNE LAPIERRE (NRA): I think the action goes to wherever the politicians make it so hard for average citizens to qualify, make the process so intimidating, so restrictive, citizens never get the guns.

WILLIAMS: The next legal battles are already brewing over carrying guns in public or taking them into bars and restaurants. But advocates of gun control say the court's ruling applies only to the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.

PAUL HELMKE (Brady Handgun Control): It doesn't mean anybody can have any gun any place, anytime. You are allowed to have reasonable restrictions in the middle on who gets guns.

WILLIAMS: Local governments can still impose some restrictions on owning a gun but this ruling sparks a new round of legal challenges on what's reasonable, Natalie.

Early Show

06/29/10

7:15

CHRIS WRAGGE: And quickly, on a separate note here, I want to talk about this Supreme Court ruling. They ruled that had state and local governments cannot ban guns. Now what's the importance, if you can just tell us, quickly, of this 5-4 decision?

JAN CRAWFORD: Chris, this was a huge ruling that basically extended gun rights nationwide. It said cities and states across the country cannot flatly outright ban handguns, that you have a fundamental right to own a gun in your own home to protect yourself.

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