While reporting on the ongoing drug war in Mexico, CBS, NBC, and ABC have all cited a dubious statistic that claims that 90% of the guns being used in the violence are from the United States. On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "Mexican drug gang violence spilling into the U.S. is the urgent issue of President Obama's visit...A major sore point -- more than 90% of the weapons which could be traced were bought legally in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico by the cartels."
On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Chuck Todd declared: "In a joint press conference following their private meeting, President Obama acknowledged that 90 percent of the guns used by the drug cartels in this war with Mexico come from the United States." On Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC, co-host Diane Sawyer referenced, and even further embellished, the figure while interviewing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there?"
However, on April 2, Fox News reported that 90% figure to be inaccurate: "The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S. What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, ‘is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.’ But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S." The network reports failed to explain those details.
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer interviewed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday and skipped any mention of a controversial report by the agency warning of right-wing extremist activity and disgruntled returning war veterans. In separate interviews, both the CBS "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" discussed the hot-topic issue with the top government official. Instead, Sawyer pressed Napolitano with incorrect numbers about gun violence and Mexico. "95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there," she asked.
In fact, the number of guns traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent. (MRC intern Mike Sargent wrote about this on April 2.) Even the Homeland Security secretary seemed to be uncomfortable with the statistic. Before answering the question, Napolitano prefaced, "And I won't quibble about numbers. That's not the point." On the issue of terrorism, the GMA host posed this not-exactly pressing question: "Do you see, in your reports that you're now reading in great detail, do you see an increase in the threat to the U.S. homeland? Or do you have them on the run?"
While discussing the ongoing drug war in Mexico with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez wondered: "President Obama will meet with the Mexican president today, who has said that the money, the guns, and the appetite for drugs that fuel this war come from our country. My question is, how much blame do we accept?...Is one of the other things we can do reinstate the assault weapons ban in this country? Because President Calderon has said that ever since it expired, violence there has escalated."
In an earlier report on the issue, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "Mexican authorities are often out-gunned by the gangs. Military-grade arms, including grenades and machine guns, are easily purchased in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico. Just as the drugs are easily moved north in response to heavy demand in the U.S...President Obama will promise today to step up efforts to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. down into Mexico." Earlier media reports claimed 90% of guns involved in the Mexican drug war came from the U.S., a statistic which was later proven false by Fox News’s William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott.
NBC's Matt Lauer and Andrea Mitchell, on Thursday's "Today" show, pressed their guests (Lauer with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mitchell with Mexican President Felipe Calderon) about reinstituting the assault weapons ban. First up, Mitchell – who pushed Hillary Clinton last month to bring back the ban -- offered Calderon an open to blame Mexican drug cartel violence on guns imported from the U.S.:
ANDREA MITCHELL: President Obama will not deliver long-promised Blackhawk helicopters, nor a ban on assault weapons smuggled south. He campaigned as a candidate against the assault weapons. Now that he's in office, he's had to back off.
FELIPE CALDERON: But most of the weapons, almost 16,000 are assault weapons and 90 percent of those were sold in United States.
Then Lauer, in his segment with Napolitano, repeated Calderon's inaccurate line that 90 percent of drug cartel weapons came from the U.S.:
MATT LAUER: You know President Calderon wants a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that was, that expired during the Bush administration. When you look at the numbers, that 90 percent of the 12,000 weapons Mexican officials recovered from these drug cartels in the last year or so were made and sold in the United States, and many of those, as we just heard from President Calderon, are assault weapons, how can President Obama, who ran on an issue against assault weapons, how can he not deliver on that?
A report from the Department of Homeland Security warning that the recession as well as the current political environment could lead to acts of violence from "domestic rightwing terrorists" became a hot topic Tuesday despite it being listed as "For Official Use Only."
The document, which specifically cited April 4's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, cop killings as a "recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwing extremism," enraged conservatives questioning not only the timing of this report's release within days of liberal media representatives blaming the shootings on rightwing talkers, but also just before Wednesday's tax protesting Tea Parties.
As Reuters reported Tuesday, the DHS tried to quell such concerns by claiming this analysis was nothing out of the ordinary:
Once again The New York Times unleashes a not-so-hidden agenda to its reading public. Here the Times is regurgitating the debunked claim that "90%" of Mexico's recovered guns used in crime south of the border are from U.S. gun dealers. There is a lot of misdirection in this piece against gun dealers and gun shows, as well. Contradictory claims are made with no proof offered but the say so of The Times.
The Times begins its tall tale by talking about Mexican gun smugglers that find it easy to buy "military style" weapons at U.S. gun shops to be smuggled into Mexico. The story talks of these "lightly regulated" gun dealers and blames them for the smuggling apparently because no records are kept or buyer's identities ascertained. And near the top half of the story is the debunked "90%" claim.
On Friday’s World News with Charles Gibson on ABC, substitute anchor Diane Sawyer previewed the same night’s special on guns in America, "If I Only Had a Gun," and, on World News, ran a report focusing on how challenging it is to react to a gunman when taken by surprise, even if one is armed. ABC News enlisted the services of police officers to train college students in firearm use and then had the students react to one of the officers as he pretended to be a crazed gunman and burst into a small lecture room. Sawyer informed viewers: "Our training is already more than almost half the states in the country require to carry a concealed weapon."
The report documented that all of the trained students performed poorly in trying to defend themselves. Sawyer narrated a clip of one such botched attempt at self-defense: "Joey struggles to get his gun out, but it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, police say Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds." Each of the students taking part appeared to be wearing a T-shirt which the concealed handgun was tucked underneath.
But the report only focused on this one narrow scenario in which the law-abiding citizen is taken by surprise by a skilled gunman, while the report ignores other scenarios and crime situations when the record shows that armed citizens do sometimes succeed when forced to confront criminals.
In the May 31, 1999, National Review article, "Why New Gun Laws Won’t Work," University of Chicago Professor John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, wrote about two then-recent school shooting sprees that were cut short when an armed citizen in each case used his own weapon to capture the gunman. Lott:
For almost a week, Americans have been told by liberal bloggers, Keith Olbermann, Rick Sanchez, and David Shuster that conservative talkers are lying about the Obama administration's plans to enact stricter gun laws, and that this is what caused Richard Poplawski to kill three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last Saturday.
You know who's been telling the American people Obama wants to take away guns? Members of his own administration, that's who.
Such was reported Wednesday evening by CNN's Bill Schneider in a piece addressing a new poll that found only 39 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws compared to 46 percent who want no change to current legislation (video and transcript below the fold, h/t Glenn Reynolds):
Wait a minute Mom. Don't let little Johnny go to his buddy Tommy's house. Tommy's parents are psychos that own -- **gasp** -- GUNS! This is the message that ABC is telling parents in an April 10 piece headlined, "Before Arranging Playdates, Ask About Guns."
Here ABC attempts to make every gun owner seem like a lunatic just ready to blow and encourages parents to be deathly afraid of anyone that owns a gun. It encourages parents to pry into the lives of family members of their kid's friends and bases it all on the lies passed off as scary gun violence statistics.
Naturally, ABC's back up for this anti-gun screed is by a supposedly "non partisan" anti-gun group called PAX USA, an organization with board and advisory councils filled with left-wing Hollywood actors such as Richard Belzer, Tim Robbins, and Rob Reiner among many others.
In the wake of last Saturday's tragic cop killings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left-wing new and old media representatives claimed the assailant was incited by supposedly false assertions from conservative talkers that President Obama was going to tighten gun laws.
One such outlet, the George Soros-funded Clinton front group Think Progress, offered the following hysterical headline hours after the shootings:
During the 7:00 p.m. hour of Saturday’s CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon pushed the view that Barack Obama should try to emulate European gun laws as a way of reducing gun violence in America as he discussed the subject with four guests. During an interview with former FBI agent Gregg McCrary, who expressed support for an assault weapons ban, Lemon suggested Obama learn from the Europeans: "The one person who can probably weigh on this and may have the most influence is the President. Since he's over there in Europe now, and they're, you know, they're not perfect, but it seems that their gun laws seem to be at least working in a way that ours are not."
While Lemon tried to sound nonpartisan at times – once declaring, "We're just trying to find a solution here. No one is on one side or the other. We just want a solution" – and seemed to try to quell accusations of partisanship and liberal and conservative labels, at one point he seemed to single out conservatives to chide for criticizing liberals for advocating more gun control:
Every time we do something on gun control, it always boils down – when it comes to the e-mail, at least – that I get, we get as a response, it's a conservative issue or it's a liberal issue. "Liberals want to ban guns and take away my rights," conservatives say, "this is my right." But no one has the right to terrorize and kill people. And you heard the FBI agent say, people are being killed. Not conservatives or liberals.
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer previewed her ABC special "If I Only Had a Gun" on Friday's edition of the morning show. No voices from the NRA or any pro-Second Amendment group were featured in the clips shown. Instead, there was generous footage of a previous special in which ABC producers hid empty (but real) guns in toy chests and showed video of young children playing with the weapons. (Who would put a gun in a toy box?) The ABC graphic for the segment hyperbolically read, "'If I Only Had a Gun': Children's Obsessions With Guns." [audio available here]
The segment also showcased a faux-school massacre situation in which Joey, a college student, was given a Glock with plastic bullets as a fake "killer" stormed the classroom. The young man got his weapon entangled in his shirt and was "killed." Sawyer narrated, "Joey struggles to get his gun out. But it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds." She added, "Or there's a chance the bad guy would simply have taken his gun from him."
In her "Evening News" interview with Attorney General Eric Holder last night, Couric pushed Holder several times to commit to heightened restrictions on access to firearms. This comes in light of her recent biased blog post on Couric and Co., which NewsBusters noted yesterday.
First, Couric pressed Holder on reinstating the assault weapons ban, noting that he expressed support for that during his confirmation hearings. Holder dodged the question like a champ:
After pounding away at Attorney General Eric Holder over enacting more gun control, as Katie Couric fretted that “Democrats on Capitol Hill are getting increasingly chummy with the NRA,” Couric raised “the issue of the treatment of some of the detainees” at Guantanamo and prompted Holder to denounce former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In the taped interview aired on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Couric cited “alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's been reported that he was water-boarded. You have come out publicly and said water-boarding is torture. So how would that stand up in civilian court?” She also highlighted how “Holder addressed recent criticism” by Cheney, “who said the Obama administration was making choices that will raise the risk of another terrorist attack.” Couric pressed: “Are you implicitly saying that Dick Cheney was inappropriate and off base?”
Couric was most-obsessed with guns, hitting Holder repeatedly from the left:
CNN’s Rick Sanchez returned to blasting conservatives on Wednesday’s Newsroom program, blaming the recent murder of three Pittsburgh police officers on the Fox News Channel and other media on the right: “That weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote, ‘Our rights were being infringed upon.’” He tag-teamed with Media Matters fellow Eric Boehlert to argue that conservative media personalities like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity were offering “garden-variety fear and hate mongering...night in and night out.”
One could be sure that Sanchez would be pointing his finger squarely at his competitors on the right from the first moment he mentioned the gun issue, which was 13 minutes into the CNN program. After playing audio of gunshots from the Pittsburgh murders, he gave the following promo: “What you’re hearing there is three police officers killed by a man who thought President Obama would take away his guns. Who put that thought in his head? And how many more Americans believe that? Could it be 1.2 million Americans? You’re going to see why I’m asking that question.” Sanchez gave a further hint that his target was Fox News during another promo ten minutes later: “Are Americans being fed a pack of lies about President Obama and guns laws? And is it creating a gun buying panic? ‘We’ll report, you decide.’ That’s not too obvious is it?”
Keith Olbermann, whose Countdown show once depicted an image of Rush Limbaugh as a target of gunfire, on Tuesday accused FNC host Glenn Beck of inspiring the recent murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh by Richard Poplawski, and of "personally encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans." (Video of the June 27, 2006, Countdown show with Limbaugh as a target of gunfire can be found here.)
Blaming Beck for inciting fear of a gun ban, Olbermann linked the FNC host to the shooting in several plugs. In one example, he referred to Beck as "Harold Hill": "Harold Hill keeps telling the bumpkins that Obama is going to take their guns away. One of them shoots and kills three policemen because he`s convinced Obama is going to take his guns away. Harold Hill does not see the connection." After several plugs in which he suggested the gunman was reacting to Beck’s show, Olbermann pulled back only slightly from the accusation as he concluded his "Worst Person in the World" segment:
You, Glenn Beck, you personally are encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans. Maybe, especially if you're right about your religion, maybe not this psychotic in Pittsburgh. Maybe he is not your fault. I hope not. But what about the next one, Glenn? You want to cry about something on television. Cry about the next one. Beg him to ignore you. Beg the kids the next one orphans to forgive you.
Will the upcoming ABC special "If I Only Had a Gun" dismiss and deride the concept of using firearms to defend oneself and stop a potential massacre? A promo that aired during Wednesday's "Good Morning America" seemed to suggest yes. As ominous music played in the background, an announcer intoned, "Friday night on ABC, when it comes to protecting yourself, you may think, 'If I only had a gun.'" Video then played of an experiment in which a female college student attempted to pull out what looked like a pellet gun to stop a faux Virginia Tech-style massacre.
The ad's announcer quizzed, "But if you had a gun, could you defend yourself in a crisis?" After an unidentified voice asked the young woman where she would be if this had been real, she responded, "Probably on the floor. Hopefully in an ambulance." More video showed young children pointing real guns at each other and themselves. The announcer solemnly wondered, "What about the irresistible pull of guns on kids and how easy can you get them? Diane Sawyer investigates with David Muir. 'If I Only Had a Gun.' One stunning hour."
CBS’s Katie Couric, formerly queen of “Today” show sunshine, has written a very anti-gun piece on her blog, Couric & Co. It seems worthwhile to do a point-by-point response, so below, please note that italics are from Couric's blog, and the response is in normal font.
Thirteen people shot dead in Binghamton, New York.
Interviewing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts challenged the Democratic politician from the left on guns. After bringing up the tragic shootings that occurred last week in New York and Pittsburgh, Roberts quizzed, "Under the Bush administration, you pretty much said the ball was in their court when it came to reinstating the [assault weapons] ban. Now, it's a Democratic President, a Democratic House. So, is the ball in your court where this is concerned?"
After noting that the shooter in Pennsylvania feared that President Obama would reinstate the assault weapons ban, Roberts wondered, "And how do you reconcile that with the work that you have to do in trying to stem these types of surges in gun purchases?"
Fresh off the cancellation of his own MSNBC show an unleashed David Shuster, sub-hosting for Chris Matthews on Monday's "Hardball," ranted and railed against "crazy," "conservative" "wingnuts" like Chuck Norris, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for fomenting, "dangerous," "red hot rhetoric," that "inspire some of the crazies out there", like accused cop killer Richard Poplowski, "to do something violent."
Shuster – who apparently wasn't liberal enough for MSNBC's tastes, that he was replaced by liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz – seemed out to show his bosses, that oh no, indeed he was liberal enough for the network's standards, and set out to prove that, right off the bat, in his "Hardball" opening monologue:
DAVID SHUSTER: Who is the real nutcase? North Korea's Kim Jong-Il or any conservative who wants to bomb him? Let's play "Hardball!" Good evening, I'm David Shuster, in tonight for Chris Matthews. Leading off tonight, nuclear war games! So what are we to make of North Korea's attempt to send a satellite into space? Even though the launch failed the North Korean rocket did travel some 2000 miles twice as far as an earlier North Korean rocket. President Obama called it "a provocative act," and wants new UN sanctions. Former House Speaker Gingrich says we should have bombed North Korea before the launch. Is Gingrich crazy to talk like that or is it dangerous to hope sanctions will do the trick?....And back for crazy talk for a moment. How in the world do you explain people like Chuck Norris calling for a second American Revolution to defeat President Obama's policies? And what about conservative Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appearing to tell her constituents to start stockpiling weapons and ammunition.
On Monday's "Good Morning America," reporter David Muir highlighted a rabidly pro-gun control group as an expert on weapons, without referencing the organization's political stance. The journalist also promoted "If I Only Had a Gun," an ABC special to air Friday night that seems to argue for tighter restrictions on firearms. During a segment on the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and New York, Muir featured a clip from Michael Wolkowitz, who is a member of the board of trustees for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
No mention was made of his organization's anti-Second Amendment position and the only identification vaguely read, "Board of Trustees, Brady Center." Wolkowitz complained, "We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA." Now, while ABC tried to conceal the group's goals, the Brady Center's campaign website does not. It currently (as of April 6) shows a picture Wolkowitz's appearance on ABC and a pitch to "pass common sense gun laws that require Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows." (Readers are then urged to contact Congress.)
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, without providing a pro-gun rights view for balance, correspondent Randall Pinkston filed a report which featured the views of two public figures who support an assault weapons ban, including a clip of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat and leading supporter of gun control in Congress, as she complained about her efforts being thwarted by the NRA.
RANDALL PINKSTON: She ran for Congress, intent on curbing access to guns, but hasn't had much success.
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D-NY) CLIP #1: People say, "Yes, we should have better laws. Yes, we shouldn't have assault weapons." But then it goes away.
On Sunday's Good Morning America, ABC co-anchor Kate Snow interviewed New York University Professor Jim Jacobs, author of Can Gun Control Work?, as the show gave attention to the view that gun control has little effect in stopping criminals from obtaining guns. While it is to the show's credit that they allowed him to make his case as Snow presented a contrarian point-of-view, Snow did seem sincerely skeptical toward his presentation. As she plugged the segment, she referred to his views as a "controversial take," and seemed surprised by his views: "We're going to have a guest on this morning, a criminologist who has a, interesting take, you could say controversial take."
As one of her contrarian questions, Snow brought up the argument that a new law should be passed even if it would only save one life: "But the counterargument would be if it's possible to, a chance to save one life, to pass one new law, one new regulation to save one life, why shouldn't we at least try?" She also cited the Brady Campaign: "They have a very different view than your own. They say 1.7 million convicted felons have been stopped from obtaining guns with the laws that we already have on the books. Do you disagree with that?"
For both the Binghamton, New York, shooting spree, and the Pittsburgh case, Saturday's NBC Nightly News made a point of relaying word that the gunman either had a love of guns or was "passionate" about supporting gun rights. During a report on Jiverly Voong, who attacked the immigration center in Binghamton, correspondent Ron Allen referred to "some reports" that Voong "loved guns and hated America." Allen: "Some reports described him as an angry loner who loved guns and hated America. He had no criminal record, and police say they had no clue he was so dangerous."
In a report on Richard Poplawski, who murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, correspondent Jeff Rossen related: "While the motive is unclear, friends say the gunman was upset after getting laid off from a local factory and became passionate about gun rights."
Then came a soundbite of Edward Perkovic, a friend of Poplawski: "He always said that if anybody ever tried to take his firearms, he was going to stand by what his forefathers told him to do and defend themselves."
One night after ABC's World News featured Diane Sawyer and Pierre Thomas fretting over the lack of interest by Congress in passing new gun laws in response to recent shooting sprees, Thomas appeared on World News Saturday and again treated as problematic the statistic that there are "more than 250 million legally registered guns in this country," and seemed to complain that Congress is not planning to enact more gun laws. After recounting several incidents of mass shootings in the past month, Thomas fretted: "Even with all that carnage, there's no major gun control legislation pending before Congress." And earlier on ABC's Good Morning America, co-anchor Bill Weir had also brought up the statistic that there are more than 250 million guns in America as he recounted mass murder statistics from various decades.
Reuters published a story today, April 4, detailing some nonsense from a Taliban terrorist who has claimed "responsibility" for Friday's shooting rampage in Binghamtom, New York. The question that comes to mind is why? Why did Reuters imagine this idiotic claim, this obvious lie, was worth reporting to the world? Does Reuters not have the good sense God gave a door knob? Why would Reuters pass this Taliban propaganda off as news?
From Peshawar, Pakistan, Reuters reports that this Taliban leader wannabe has said that the murderous rampage perpetrated by an unhinged Vietnamese immigrant was done by his "men." This half-wit terrorist claims that he ordered the "men" to attack the U.S. because of the use of Predator drones that have been so successful in cutting out so many of those nits in their Pakistani strongholds.
But we all know this "acceptance of responsibility" is an outright lie. We may not know why Jiverly Voong went off the deep end, but we know he had zilch to do with Pakistan. So, why did Reuters think it a story worthy of reporting? There can only be one reason.
Of the three network evening newscasts, ABC's World News, substitute hosted by Diane Sawyer, uniquely seemed to lament the lack of political interest in enacting new gun laws to combat what correspondent Dan Harris earlier called "a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage," referring to the shooting spree in Binghamton, New York.
Sawyer introduced a discussion with correspondent Pierre Thomas by reading a statement from the Brady Campaign complaining about the government's lack of interest in more gun control compared to "salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers," and then the two fretted over the large number of guns in circulation in America and the unlikely prospects of more gun laws being passed by Congress. Sawyer: "We keep hearing there is a gun for every man, woman and child in this country, and now they have gone up by that much more. But what about Congress? Is there any move in Congress to try to take some kind of action?"
Thomas responded: "Well, one of the reasons why you heard that frustration from the Brady group today is that there's not a lot of sense of urgency on gun control." After mentioning Attorney General Eric Holder's recent expression of interest in a new assault weapon ban, Thomas continued: "But since that time, no real urgency from the White House or from Congress to take any meaningful gun control legislation to fruition."
Apparently, America’s love of firearms has not rubbed off on our Mexican neighbors quite as much as the mainstream media led us to believe.
It has been widely reported that 90 percent of the weapons used in the Mexican drug cartel wars come from America. As it turns out, that statistic is simply incorrect. According to the figures obtained from ICE and ATF officials by Fox News, only about 17 percent of the weapons recovered from cartel-related crime scenes in Mexico actually originate in the United States.