ABC Touts 'Slamming' of Anti-Gun Control Senator at Town Hall, But Mocked 'Ugly' Tea Partiers

Good Morning America's Jeff Zeleny on Friday hyped a Senator being "slammed" by pro-gun control voices at a town hall. Yet, the same network back in 2009 worried about Tea Party town halls "getting ugly." Highlighting a New Hampshire event with Republican Kelly Ayotte, Zeleny featured multiple snippets of Americans impacted by gun violence and summerized that they are "trying to understand how so many senators voted against something eight in ten Americans support."

In comparison, on the August 7, 2009 edition of World News, Charles Gibson lectured the Tea Party: "...In meeting after meeting, there's been a pattern of disruption - opponents of change shouting at members of Congress so loud that at times police are called in." He fretted, "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today, 'We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized. It's the same thing I tell my six-year-old.'"

An ABC graphic at the time worried, "Getting Ugly?"

At the very end of Friday's segment, Zeleny buried an important point. On the issue of bringing the President's gun control legislation to another vote, the journalist explained, "But a top Senate aide tells us it may happen later this month but it's not likely." So, what is the point of this story?

On Wednesday's Nightly News, Brian Williams adopted a similar tone, promoting the pro-gun control voices in the town hall: "Pushing back. A tense moment as a U.S. senator gets an earful about her no vote on gun control."

Quite a difference from the way the "ugly" Tea Partiers were portrayed.

A transcript of the May 3 segment, which aired at 7:11am ET, follows:


ABC GRAPHIC: Gun Vote Fight Boils Over: Anti-Gun Control Senators Slammed

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to what looks like a growing backlash against senators who oppose background checks for gun buyers after the Newtown killings. They're coming face-to-face with the victims' families and under pressure to reverse their votes. ABC's Jeff Zeleny covering all this from Washington. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY: Good morning, George. Some senators who voted against this gun control legislation, they fear a backlash from the gun lobby and pro-gun voters in their states. What they may not have expected is this frustration and fury they're feeling from the other side. Now back home in their districts, senators who opposed the President's legislation are confronts what they never thought they would: Angry voters. Your sign says shame on you. Who is that directed at?

JENNIFER LONGDON (Protester): It would be to Senator Ayotte.

ZELENY: And even angrier victims of gun violence.

GILLES ROUSSEAU (Father of Sandy Hook victim): Why did she do it? Why did she vote against the bill?

ZELENY: Gilles Rousseau traveled to New Hampshire on Thursday to face down Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. He came on behalf of his daughter Lauren, a first grade teacher killed at Sandy Hook elementary school.

ROUSSEAU: I feel I have to do something not to avenge but– [starts to tear up] sorry to cry, by the way. For my daughter. I'm going for my daughter. I hope we can prevent any of this in the future.

ZELENY: Rousseau carried Lauren's photograph death certificate. He's trying to understand how so many senators voted against something eight in ten Americans support. Senator Ayotte says she thinks it would not prevent another Sandy Hook.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: Ultimately, mental health is an area that, particularly in these mass violent situations, we should I think be able to come to some improvements on.

ZELENY: Across the country Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who also voted no is facing an angry backlash too, posting on Facebook he says his public image is now, quote, "somewhere just below pond scum."

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm not going away. I'm not giving up and neither are these people out front.

ZELENY: The NRA is opening its annual convention today in Houston and some Newtown families and other victims of gun violence plan to be on hand to so their opposition to the gun lobby. What they're trying to do here, George, is to convince Congress to re-open the gun debate But a top Senate aide tells us it may happen later this month but it's not likely. George.

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