WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC, was one of hundreds of news outlets to publish an AP story on 21 April, entitled "Mass Shootings More Common Since 1960s." The pathetic aspect of this story is that the reporter found and included the truth of the matter in paragraphs nine and ten, but otherwise acted as if he had never seen it.
Both the title and the lede warn of burgeoning mass murder in the US. The lede says that, "Mass public shootings have become such a part of American life in recent decades that the most dramatic of them can be evoked from the nation's collective memory in a word or two: Luby's. Jonesboro. Columbine."
Buried late in this article that is filled with assorted speculations about the causes of this tide of mass murder, is this finding from Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections:
ABC News tries its hand at sensationalism with a story on the VT killer buying "ammo" on the auction site Ebay, but muffs it badly getting all the relevant facts wrong. But it sure is a good headline... Ammo from eBay? VT Killer May Have Used Site
April 21, 2007 — ABCNews has learned that in the months before his shooting spree at Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho may have purchased 20 rounds of ammunition through the online auction site eBay.
An eBay account holder who appears to be Cho purchased a two-pack of 10-round ammunition clips for a Walther P22 on March 22, 2007, less than a month before Cho killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech. The ammunition was purchased on eBay from Elk Ridge Shooting Supplies for the same type of weapon used by Cho in his bloody rampage last week.
ABC’s weatherman, Sam Champion, continued his crusade to get every American to adopt liberal environmental polices. While standing in front of a massive bank of televisions, he lectured viewers on their contribution to global warming: "If you think you have nothing to do with global warming, think again. From the car you drive, to the house you live in, it all contributes to the problem."
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman appeared on the "Today" show to announce that America’s best shot at winning the war on terrorism is by going green. NBC, of course, promoted the segment as "save energy, save the world."
ABC's Good Morning America and World News on Friday displayed disappointment that liberals and Democrats have not pursued gun control in the wake of the mass murders at Virginia Tech. GMA's on-screen graphic for a 7am half hour story demanded, “Politicians and Gun Control: Why Aren’t They Outraged?” Co-host Robin Roberts rued: “After every major shooting in the U.S., without fail, there has been a heated debate about gun control on Capitol Hill. But not this time. In fact, most politicians have been running away from the debate on guns. So, why is this happening?” Reporter Jake Tapper echoed the theme: “It was the worst school shooting in American history, and yet what some liberals are referring to as a deafening silence from Democrats on Capitol Hill. After reciting how Democrats fear the electoral impact of the agenda, Tapper concluded by relaying how “in the rest of the world, of course, gun rights in the United States are viewed somewhat oddly.”
Just over 12 hours later, World News anchor Charles Gibson recalled how “when I spoke to President Bush at Virginia Tech, he told me he thought the killings at that college would spark new debate on gun laws. So far, it hasn't. The discussion, in fact, has been surprisingly muted.” (Naturally, Gibson had prompted that answer: “After Columbine, there was ignited a national debate on guns. Do you think this is going to rekindle the national debate?”) In Friday's story, Tapper highlighted how “for gun control activists...the Democrats' silence was deafening.” He went on to explain that “many Democratic strategists think Al Gore's liberal gun control stance cost him key states like West Virginia and Tennessee in the 2000 election” and “Democrats recaptured the Congress last November partly because of pro-gun Democrats.” Tapper showcased how “this weekend a TV ad campaign begins airing that faults the Democratic Congress for not backing a gun control measure.”
[UPDATE: PBS's Gwen Ifill: “Have the Virginia tech shootings changed the debate” about gun control? "Not so much. But why not?”]
On her "Couric & Co." blog today, the CBS "Evening News" anchor posted a 10-question interview with gun control activist Paul Helmke. Couric's questions largely lobbed softballs for the Brady Campaign's Helmke to hit out of the park. But beyond that, she let slip a suggestion a keener ear might have caught and followed up on.
Helmke suggested he'd prefer a law making law-abiding citizens have to show references for purchasing a gun.
That's right, references, as in asking friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. if they think you should have the right to own a gun. References for the government to pry into your life (well beyond any criminal record) before you, a law-abiding citizen, to purchase a gun, something you have the right to do under the Constitution.
Here's one ally that most people opposed to the airing of Cho's material would surely just as soon do without.
In an MSNBC column, Siva Vaidhyanathan claims that NBC News' decision to air the material was unfair to, that's right, Cho the mass murderer.
In Material from Killer Should Not Have Aired, Vaidhyanathan does note en passant that the airing "ultimately was disrespectful to the victims and their families." But the lion's share of his column is devoted to complaining that NBC was "exploitative of Cho's condition and that of all severely mentally ill people."
We will see sick attempts at humor, bigoted jokes about Korean immigrants and chilling calls to violence. And we will see a proliferation of hateful material that will be an assault on the mentally ill and their families.
When is something clearly newsworthy clearly not newsworthy?
Interesting question, wouldn’t you agree?
Like millions of Americans, I watched the Virginia Tech killer’s videotape yesterday with shock and horror. (Please be advised: I refuse to use his real name, or publish pictures of him, for reasons that should be obvious, and wish all members of the media would adopt the same anonymity strategy when referring to this animal.)
I was at my athletic club when clips of it were making the rounds on the various networks after originally being broadcast on the NBC “Nightly News.” Groups of half-dressed men, some with only towels around their waists, stood staring at the television sets throughout the locker room gazing mesmerized at the screens like moribund ghosts.
I imagine like many Americans, when the shock wore off, it was quickly replaced by anger.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson concluded Thursday's World News by showing, as viewers heard Amazing Grace, photos of all 32 of those murdered Monday at Virginia Tech. When the photo array ended, Gibson simply and powerfully observed: “Those are the faces to remember.”
Gibson had teased his April 19 broadcast by asking, “Tonight, the words of the Virginia Tech killer trigger fierce new debate: Did the media go too far in airing the killer's hate?” He then opened: “There is new outrage tonight over the tragedy at Virginia Tech and it is directed at the media. The words of the Virginia Tech killer were plastered across newspapers and Web sites today after they started airing on television last night. Raising questions: Do we learn anything seeing the hate of Seung-Hui Cho? Or do we simply play into his sick fantasies? There has been intense reaction on the Virginia Tech campus, among victims' families, indeed reaction all across the country.”
John Markell, the owner of the gun shop that sold one of the guns that was used in the Virginia Tech massacre, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Wednesday evening, not only to recount the situation behind the sale, but also told host Larry King that he was receiving threatening messages through his business's website. In response, King first said, "That's kind of ironic that people opposed to guns are threatening you with bodily harm." When Markell said he had been called a murderer as well, King replied, "Now, that's totally unfair, John. We're with you, and I thank you for sharing these moments with us."
On March 13, just over a month before his shooting rampage, killer Cho Seung Hui bought a .9 millimeter Glock handgun, and a box of 50 bullets at Roanoke Firearms, the gun shop Markell owns. In an ABC News report on April 17, Markell described Cho as a "clean-cut college kid," but wasn't actually present during the purchase. During his interview with King, Markell repeated his description of Cho as a "clean-cut college kid," and stated that the clerk who sold Cho the Glock handgun "barely remembered him because the sale went so smoothly." He also stated that Cho had lied one on the required forms for the purchase, which asked whether he had been "adjucated mentally defective" (a General District Court in Virginia found that Cho was "mentally ill and presents an imminent danger to self or others" in December 2005).
Michael Welner, an ABC News consultant and a forensic psychiatrist, appeared on Thursday’s "Good Morning America" to slam the media for gratuitously airing videos sent by deceased mass killer Seung-Hui Cho. Welner even referenced the network frenzy over fired radio host Don Imus by saying, "Just listen, if you can take Imus off the air, you can certainly keep [Cho] from having his own morning show."
Earlier in the segment, Welner gave an impassioned plea for the networks to stop airing the killer’s footage:
Michael Welner: "If anybody cares about the victims in Blacksburg and if anybody cares about their children, stop showing this video now. Take it off the internet. Let it be relegated to YouTube. This is a social catastrophe. Showing the video is a social catastrophe. I promise you the disaffected will watch him the way they watched 'Natural Born Killers.' I know. I examine these people. I've examined mass shooters who have told me they've watched 'Natural Born Killers' 20 times. You cannot saturate the American public with this kind of message."
Not a media bias item, but a reflection of how the media coverage of the VA Tech massacre is evolving . . .
Good Morning America's Chris Cuomo gave VA Tech a rough going-over today regarding its failure to have removed Cho from campus before he murdered 32 people. Cuomo introduced the segment, entitled "Were Warning Signs Missed on Campus," this way:
CHRIS CUOMO: Now students, their parents and friends are left with many questions of whether or not the university did everything it could to prevent all this.
Cuomo then played a video clip of Anne Atkinson, the parent of a VA Tech student, asking: "why did they allow him to stay? I think this could have been prevented."
The first half hour of this morning's "Today" offered an unusual window into NBC's decision to air some of the materials that the Virginia Tech killer, Cho Seung-Hui, had mailed to the network.
Matt Lauer introduced the topic.
MATT LAUER: It puts us in an unusual position, because obviously at NBC News we always want to cover the important stories of the day and the massacre at Virginia Tech is one of the most disturbing and tragic stories any of us will ever cover. But we're not used to becoming part of the story, and with this package that he sent us, Cho has made us in some way part of the story
MEREDITH VIEIRA: The decision to air some of the images he sent to us: the video clips and the photos and to discuss what was contained in that rambling and hate-filled manifesto was not taken lightly, it was not made quickly, and we understand that this is going to be seen as devastating to many people who lost loved ones in the shooting. In fact I will tell you that we had planned to speak to some family members of victims this morning but they cancelled their appearances because they were very upset with NBCfor airing the images.
If one were to contemplate all the horrible results of the actions of this murderous psychopath in Virginia, if one were to wonder how hard and emotional have become the lives of the survivors of those whom this sick individual killed, it would seem axiomatic that the Mainstream Media would be the last group such a reflection would see as a recipient of the "tough decisions" resulting from the murders . We would naturally feel pain at the loss of the families of the VT victims. Our hearts would go out to the turmoil that surviving students would face upon trying to resume their education schedules after this monumental outrage. We would even feel bad for residents of the surrounding Virginia communities as they attempt to cope with the crime. Yes, there are a lot of people to empathize with and to feel sorry for.
Gun control advocate and controversial "View" co-host Rosie O’Donnell has given up trying to push for anti-gun legislation.
Despite a series of news events that ought to have, in her view, persuaded Americans to come around to her views on guns, O'Donnell said Tuesday that she believed "there will never be gun control in America" and fighting for it was a "futile attempt." Co-host Joy Behar asked if Rosie "throw(s) up" her "hand." Rosie replied sadly "I sort of do."
After a demoralized Rosie O’Donnell stated the previous day that she gave up on gun control, Barbara Walters, on the April 18 edition of "The View," expressed disappointment in Rosie’s surrender. Rosie, again expressed her frustration with not accomplishing anything in the eight years since the Columbine massacre. Perhaps disarming her bodyguards would be a start.
BARBARA WALTERS: When I'm not on, I watch the program. And, I mean this tragedy that has happened is so terrible, but you Rosie are always so passionate. Right or wrong, you're passionate. You care. And you're one of the people who talked about gun control. And for me to hear you yesterday, because we haven't talked too much about it, numb, saying we're never going to get a gun control law, kind of giving up made me sad. I don't want to see you do that.
Over at the Huffington Post's Eat the Press blog, Jason Linkins objected Tuesday night to MSNBC's description of President Bush as "mourner-in-chief," demanding they stop because "It's emo and it's weird." Linkins admitted MSNBC was not the first to use this terminology. But perhaps liberals forget that the network news people employed it with Bill Clinton, too. In fact, on the July 25, 1996 World News Tonight, after a TWA plane crash, ABC's Jim Wooten tenderly hailed the Sensitive President, Bill Clinton, the nation's "chaplain in chief," an even stranger choice of words, given Clinton's historic reputation for indulgence:
Mr. Clinton is clearly more and more comfortable now in the role these times have forced on our Presidents --- first mourner and chaplain-in-chief. But his moments with the families must have struck him as especially poignant today, for when he left them in the hotel and entered his car, he buried his head on Mrs. Clinton's shoulder.
I've roundly criticized ABC's Brian Ross for his blatant falsehoods
regarding the "assault weapons" ban provision of the 1994 Crime Bill,
but it appears that not only has ABC News refused to retract these
false claims, it appears that the lie is spreading among other members
of the ignorati.
Enter one of the least, shall we say, "mentally agile" disciples of this profession at MSNBC.
Ian Schwartz has the video of Olbermann parroting of Ross's falsehoods.
At least one of the weapons used by the shooter is believed, as we
said, to be in nine millimeter semi-automatic pistol, which would be
like this one, with a clip designed to hold more than 10 shots. Clips
like those were banned under the Assault Weapons Law of 1994, but
Congress and President Bush allowed that law to expire more than two
I'll try this once more, making it so easy that even journalists can understand it.
It certainly was predictable that in the wake of the horrific Virginia Tech massacre, the ladies of ABC’s “The View” – in particular, former gun control advocate Rosie O’Donnell – were going to use the incident to once again attack the Second Amendment.
Yet, when such a discussion on Tuesday completely ignored Rosie O’Donnell’s own controversy surrounding this issue – it was identified in May 2000 that one of her bodyguards applied for a gun permit – the coffee klatch oozed with hypocrisy.
To properly set the table, Rosie and the gang were discussing the Virginia Tech killings, and all those present took a predictably anti-Second Amendment and anti-NRA stance with the predictable exception of Elisabeth Hasselbeck whose challenge to O’Donnell set off the following delicious exchange: (h/t and video available here thanks to NRO’s Media Blog):
Yes, "Good Morning America" did let us hear from a member of the VA Tech gun club saying he wished he could have had a concealed carry permit and "that I would not have felt that I was totally just a helpless victim at the mercy of this lunatic." But when it came to people in positions of authority, GMA, during it's first half-hour this morning, aired only the views of anti-gun advocates in a segment on how Cho got his guns. And a senior ABC reporter passed along the lament of those opposing the right to bear arms.
Narrating the segment, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross [file photo] rolled a clip of Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who complained: "Virginia's [attitude] is let's sell it and not find out anything about them and that may have led to a tragedy in this case."
For the second day, The Washington Post rounded up hostile global opinion toward America’s gun culture in a Molly Moore story headlined "Va. Killings Widely Seen as Reflecting a Violent Society: World Reaction Mixes Condolences With Criticism of Policies." But Moore’s article turned unintentionally comic when she quoted an Iraqi praising the gun-control policies of....Saddam Hussein. "But America has terrorism and they are exporting it to us. We did not have this violence in the Saddam era because the law was so tough on guns."
Perhaps it’s not surprising for a liberal newspaper to use a terrible mass shooting as an opportunity for pro-Saddam Iraqis to condemn how the United States has ruined their paradise. But it’s hardly a poster for the Brady Campaign’s gun-control aims – and Saddam’s dictatorship is hardly a model of nonviolence. (It can, however, illustrate the gun-rights crowd’s belief in guns as a bulwark against dictatorship.) Moore’s Iraqi section came about halfway through the article:
In an April 17 article at CBSNews.com, investigative reporter Armen Keteyian tracked down the origin of the guns used by Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui.
While Keteyian failed to consider what part restrictive anti-concealed carry policies on the Virginia Tech campus may have played in ensuring Cho faced no opposition from armed civilians, he found a former ATF agent to criticize current gun laws as too little to thwart terrorism.:
Lamenting how Democrats have lost their penchant for fierce advocacy of new gun control laws, Time's Karen Tumulty described as "modest" former Vice President Al Gore's stance on gun control in his 2000 campaign in an April 17 post at her magazine's "Swampland" blog.:
...in talking to Democrats on Capitol Hill, I'm picking up no enthusiasm
for a cause that many have deemed a political loser. Al Gore's
relatively modest proposal in the wake of Columbine for licensing gun
owners (as opposed to the more radical one of registering their guns)
is still widely believed to have been a factor in costing him the
election, losing him votes that he might otherwise have goten from, for
instance, gun-owning union members.
It’s not surprising that the mainstream media would quickly jump on the question of gun control in the wake of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech on Monday. On Tuesday, the second day for its new hosts, CNN’s "American Morning," broadcasting live from the Virginia Tech campus, jumped almost immediately on the gun control angle, citing from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the leading gun control groups in America.
CNN correspondent Greg Hunter did two live reports on the guns that were used in the massacre during the competitive 7-9 am Eastern time slot. The first report, which came a mere 6 minutes after the top of the 7 am hour, cited that Virginia is "a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence." Hunter then cited the reasons for this "finding" by the Brady Campaign, which included Virginia’s lack of a waiting period and no license requirements. He also cited the Brady Campaign’s advocacy of a "three-day background check."
Substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball it didn't take long for David Shuster to bring up the specter of gun control in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. Shuster indicated that gun policies actually "enabled" the shooter to obtain his "weapons of choice." The following was Shuster's intro for the April 16th edition of "Hardball."
David Shuster: "At this hour, investigators are still trying to piece together what happened this morning on the Virginia Tech campus. Tonight, we will tell you everything we've learned about the killer's motive. We will bring you the most gripping interviews we have seen today from students who witnessed the rampage and tried to block the killer's path. And you will hear live from witnesses who saw the aftermath. Many questions are lingering tonight about the response by campus police, warnings to Virginia Tech students, even gun policies that enabled the killer to get his hands on his weapons of choice. But we start tonight with a campus community was rocked to its core and asking the question, why us?"
Perhaps a sign of how blind the liberally-biased media are to arguments from gun rights advocates, CBS's Andrew Cohen wrote in his Washington Post "Bench Conference" blog that "There Is Irony in the Tragedy at Virginia Tech."
I learned from CBS News' Armen Keteyian that school administrators and
college officials at Virginia Tech had in fact implemented reasonable
security measures (against the wishes of state legislators) designed to
limit guns on campus. In other words, even though the university was
relatively proactive in confronting the problem of guns on campus, the
brutal slayings occurred anyway.
Actually, that's not so much irony as the law of unintended consequences, something that any pro-gun rights advocate could tell Cohen. I've not seen a worse definition of irony since Alanis Morissette wrote a song about it. (continued...)
MSNBC host Contessa Brewer [file photo] has taken some deserved heat here, as when NewsBuster Scott Whitlock caught her here, seemingly rooting for the entire Democratic presidential field.
But for at least one brief shining moment this afternoon, Brewer gave the pro-Second Amendment side of the VA Tech argument fair treatment. The fair Contessa's guests were University of Missouri law prof Kris Kobach, a former senior aide to former AG John Ashcroft, and Dennis Henigan of the Brady gun-control group.
Brewer began by expressing skepticism as to how additional gun control laws could have helped: "Dennis, let me put you on the spot here. What possibly have been done to keep Cho from buying a gun? We now know he didn't have a criminal record."
It didn’t take the BBC World, airing on PBS, long to find a way to criticize America and our constitution it the midst of our national tragedy. After an initial segment on the events at Virginia Tech, the BBC felt another story on Second Amendment rights were appropriate for a broadcast. The story by Gavin Hewitt led with the following, "Today’s images from Blacksburg are at once horrific but shockingly familiar. Shootings on campuses, in high schools, in shopping malls, have become part of the American landscape."
After continuing with a re-cap of past school shootings, his analysis of the ‘American landscape’ concluded with the following:
In the United states there are 200 million guns in private hands. Many Americans believe it is their right to keep and bear arms, as is their right by the constitution. Attempts to bring in tougher gun laws are often weakened by the powerful National Rifle Association. Even after today's horrific shootings, laws are unlikely to change.
Isn't there something a tad, I dunno, hypocritical about a group of journalists who associate with each other on the basis of race and ethnicity issuing an edict to fellow journalists to ignore the race and ethnicity of the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui?:
Like the rest of the nation, we at the Asian American Journalists
Association (AAJA) are stunned at the news of today's shooting at
Virginia Tech. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and
friends as they cope with this horrific incident.
As coverage of
the Virginia Tech shooting continues to unfold, AAJA urges all media to
avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane
reason. There is no evidence at this early point that the race or
ethnicity of the suspected gunman has anything to do with the incident,
and to include such mention serves only to unfairly portray an entire
The effect of mentioning race can be powerfully harmful.
It can subject people to unfair treatment based simply on skin color
We further remind members of the media that the
standards of news reporting should be universal and applied equally no
matter the platform or medium, including blogs.