ABC Insists Gun Bill Is a 'Significant' 'Major Breakthrough,' But NBC Admits It's 'Watered Down'

The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday could barely contain themselves, hailing the compromise over gun control legislation as a "major," "big, significant breakthrough." Guest host Elizabeth Vargas marveled, "Boy, is that big news."

Yet, the reporters on NBC offered less effusive coverage. Today's Kristen Welker conceded, "Democrats had been hoping for background checks to be universal. They didn't get that. This is going to be a pared down, watered down version of background checks." She asserted, "The deal is far less than the President was hoping for." In contrast, ABC's Jon Karl promoted, "And it is a big, significant breakthrough. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it gets you a long way there." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "Looks like a major breakthrough."

He added, "This is what the President and those families he brought back on Air Force One were hoping for."

The deal will not include a ban on assault weapons or universal background checks. It will exempt person-to-person transactions, including gifts.

CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose promoted the legislation as a "turning point in the fight over gun control." Norah O'Donnell teased the story as "big news." Nancy Cordes touted it as the "first big bipartisan breakthrough on gun legislation."

Back in late March, when the Democrats dropped the assault weapons ban from the legislation, the network reaction amounted to a collective shrug. On March 20, Good Morning America, World News and Nightline skipped the development. This was quite a change as Stephanopoulos previously praised Obama's "dramatic and emotional" plea for an assault weapons ban.

On December 17, 2012, NBC's Lester Holt hyped the Commander in Chief as throwing down "the political gauntlet" on gun control.

On Wednesday's Today, Welker conceded, "The President had ultimately been hoping for an assault weapons ban and limiting high-capacity magazines. Those measures are very unlikely to pass."

A transcript of the April 10 GMA segment is below:


7:01 ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We just learned that a deal has been reached in the Senate on expanding background checks for gun buyers. The President and those Newtown families have been pressing hard for this. Looks like a major breakthrough. We're going to have all the details ahead.

ELIZABETH VARGAS: And boy, is that big news.

7:05

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to that breakthrough on gun control. One day after those emotional visits to Congress from Newtown families, key senators have reach add a bipartisan deal to expand background checks for gun buyers for all commercial sales. ABC's Jon Karl has the latest from Washington. And Jon, this is what the President and those families he brought back on Air Force One were hoping for.

JON KARL: It's not everything they were looking for, George, but a big breakthrough. This would expand background checks to virtually all sales, those at gun shows, those over the internet. It's a big deal, and it comes from a compromise worked out between two senators with A ratings from the NRA, Pat Toomey, the Republican. Joe Manchin, the Democrat. These are two of the most conservative members of their parties. And it is a big, significant breakthrough. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it gets you a long way there.

8:02

JOSH ELLIOTT: And we're going to begin with that breakthrough we discussed earlier in the new gun laws. Sources say a deal has been reached now in the Senate to expand background checks to almost all commercial gun sales and close the so-called gun show loophole on those checks. An announcement is expected on this major breakthrough this morning.

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