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.
Earlier this morning the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on partial-birth abortion. What's more, Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many in the media often focus on as the "moderate" and "swing" justice on the Court, penned the majority opinion. While the mass murder at Virginia Tech is still the top story in the media, Fox News found room to give this landmark ruling prime real estate on its Web site. CNN, however, relegated the story to a link nine entries deep into its "latest news" list.
The screenshots I've included in this post are taken from Fox News and CNN's Web sites from around 11:30 a.m.
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:
The foreign press are having a field day wagging their collective finger at Americans, scolding us over our 2nd Amendment rights. It seems they are all of a mind to take our guns away from us... not that they have any say in the matter. But, at least one paper, the Daily Telegraph of Australia, got themselves in trouble with Americans over their insensitive choice of wording in a story about one of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.
In the piece "Was gunman crazed over Emily?", the headline as well as the first lines and of the article is so insensitive and sensationalistic that readers deluged the paper with complaints. So many complaints that they had to start a whole new story to address the slight.
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.
Without any regard to how school shootings in recent years have occurred in states and nations with stricter gun laws, including one last year at a college in Quebec, Canada, ABC and CBS on Tuesday night focused stories and questions on Virginia's “lax” gun laws. “How the gunman purchased the murder weapon,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased an upcoming story, “Virginia's controversial gun laws: How lax are they? Brian Ross investigates.” Ross confirmed that “Virginia's gun laws, indeed, are regarded by law enforcement officials as among the most lax in the country.” Ross relayed how “for gun control advocates, the ease with which Cho [Seung-Hui] was able to legally get his Glock and a box of ammunition reveals the problems with Virginia's gun laws.” Over undercover footage recorded by the New York City Police Department, Ross explained how it shows “it's possible to buy a handgun at a Virginia gun store with no waiting period and only what is called an instant background check.” Though Ross aired a condemnatory soundbite from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, he failed to note that Virginia has a lot fewer gun crimes per capita than does New York City.
As if the media have nothing to do with “igniting” a debate on guns (ABCNews.com on Monday posted the question: “Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?”), Gibson asked President Bush: “After Columbine, there was ignited a national debate on guns. Do you think this is going to rekindle the national debate?” Over on the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric, also on scene in Blacksburg, pressed Bush: “As you well know, after events like this, discussions about gun control inevitably follow. Is it too easy, in your view, for unstable people to purchase guns in this country?” Leading into an earlier story from Armen Keteyian, Couric cited “the question I asked the President about gun control. It's something many people are thinking about after the tragedy here at Virginia Tech, especially considering the gunman needed only two IDs and a credit card to buy the weapons and ammunition he used.”
UPDATE: Showcasing the same undercover video as Ross, on NBC's Dateline Chris Hansen interjected how “gun sales in Virginia have been more than a sticking point with gun control advocates.” (See more at end of item below)
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...)
On the last half hour of Tuesday's Early Show, guest co-host Maggie Rodriguez moderated a debate on gun control between gun control advocate Paul Helmke and gun rights advocate Suzanna Hupp. Rodriguez threw softballs to Helmke. For example, if tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shooting "are happening because there are too many guns in the United States?"and very bland questions like "what do you think about that?"
On the other hand, she asked much tougher and very biased questions to the gun rights advocate, Suzanna Hupp. Rodriguez noted that her parents were killed in a cafeteria shooting and commented that "some would that, that would make you a bigger gun opponent." When Suzanna Hupp noted that the scenario may have been different had Virginia Tech students been able to defend themselves, Rodriguez returned to Paul Helmke and called Hupp’s comments "controversial." Rodriguez’s final question to Hupp summarized her stance on gun control.
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.
A day after posting a blog entry
replete with falsehoods, and despite more than dozens of comments
pointing out the factual inaccuracies of the story, Brian Ross and Dana
Hughes of the ABC News blog "The Blotter" have yet to issue a
Does ABC News have an obligation to report facts, or is peddling a
political agenda buttressed by lies their preferred stock in trade?
As I noted yesterday, the ABC News blog did not get so much as a single fact in their blog entry correct.
The Ross entry states that high-capacity magazines "became widely
available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned
assault weapons." This is a patently false statement, containing no
truth at all.
Before this is over, I predict that Virginia Tech President Charles Steger will apologize for errors that he and his administration made in dealing with yesterday's massacre. But as of this morning, Steger was still seeking to defend the failure to alert students for two hours after the initial murders. As Matt Lauer politely pointed out, his explanation would seem to fail a simple test of logic.
"Today" host Lauer interviewed Steger during the show's first half-hour.
LAUER: As you continue to mourn here at Virginia Tech University, you're also facing some very difficult questions from students and from parents and from law enforcement people who are saying we had a shooting take place at 7:15 in the dormitory in this part of the campus, and yet an email didn't go out warning students even to be cautious until two hours later.
The easiest place to find liberal disgust at American gun laws in Tuesday's Washington Post was in Kevin Sullivan's roundup of international reaction from London. The headline was "Shock, Sympathy, And Denunciation Of U.S. Gun Laws: British Newspaper Asks, 'What Price the Right to Bear Arms?'"
One British expert even claimed you could easily buy automatic weapons along with your yogurt and bologna at the supermarket:
"I think the reason it happens in America is there's access to weapons -- you can go into a supermarket and get powerful automatic weapons," Keith Ashcroft, a psychologist, told the Press Association. Ashcroft said he believed such access, along with a culture that makes gun ownership seem normal, increases the likelihood of such attacks in the United States.
I'm struck by how political Web sites are choosing to address the shooting deaths at Virginia Tech, if at all, and the reaction the same is generating among at least one prominent conservative blogger.
Shortly after midnight, the presidential campaign for liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced it's shuttering its Web page, kucinich.us, for 24 hours out of respect to the lives lost. The Web page is plastered with an image of an Easter lily, and the words "In memory and respect of all the victims at Virginia Tech, and all those who are affected by violence everyday, we have closed our site for a twenty-four hour period of mourning."
What happened at Virginia Tech today is not a "tragedy" in the way that tragedy is usually defined as being a sudden accident. No, it was a cold-blooded crime. But, the criminal action at Virginia Tech had barely finished before news sources began their meme against guns, those "permissive laws" controlling them and the "easy access" to them. All are common phrases used to attack gun rights and this incident is being used as a platform to launch that line of attack everywhere. It's as if, before the last victim was even cold, every anti-gun advocate in the country hurriedly warmed up their cars to race to their local media source to call for more gun control. The debate over this issue is perfectly reasonable, of course, but that the MSM would use this crime as a springboard for their attacks on guns so soon after this incident had been perpetrated smacks of political opportunism.
CBS News gives us the claim that it is "much too easy to get guns in the state of Virginia." And they assure us this crime happened because "there's no gun registration, no mandatory waiting period to purchase weapons. The only major restriction: a limit of one gun purchase per month." And, the CBS report is echoed all across the news media.
Monday afternoon ABCNews.com was quick to put up a speculative posting, without any real knowledge of what the shooter used, headlined, “Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips” (NewsBusters item), and a bit later ABCNews.com posted an interactive poll with a very leading question: “Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?” But in a World News story, while Jake Tapper highlighted calls for stricter gun laws, he also gave equal time to calls “for greater access to guns” so people can protect themselves and he undermined ABC's idle ammo clip posting by pointing out how since “politicians don't necessarily know the details” of what really occurred, “they don't know whether any laws were broken or any loopholes need to be closed.” Tapper also discredited the assumption of the unscientific ABCNews.com poll, citing how a Gallup survey found the public is “more inclined to blame these incidents on the ways parents raise their children or on popular culture than on the availability of guns.”
In a 2:30 p.m. posting, well before details about the weapons used in the tragic Virginia Tech shootings were available, ABC News's Brian Ross devoted a "Blotter" blog entry to a gun control advocate's talking points. Ross didn't make room for any gun rights advocates or find a critic to suggest the Brady Center was callously capitalizing on a tragedy to further its political agenda. Here's the entire blog post:
High capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons.
sites now advertise overnight UPS delivery of the clips, which carry up
to 40 rounds for both semi-automatic rifles, including 9mm pistols, and
"High capacity magazines read extreme firepower and gusto. Stock Up!" is the headline of one of many gun shop Web sites.
law enforcement officials have not identified the weapon used in the
shootings today at Virginia Tech, but gun experts say the number of
shots fired indicate, at the very least, that the gunman had large
quantities of ammunition.
"When you have a weapon that can shoot
off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you're going to have a lot more
injuries," said Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
That item is the only "Blotter" entry about the Virginia Tech shootings so far today. Hamm's group, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, issued a press statement on the site's home page that peddles its talking points. It also has a brand new petition page up at the site set up to sign up readers for e-mail updates. Curiously enough, "journalist" is one of the selections a petitioner can check off when describing him or herself on the form:
Harvard researcher Matthew Miller released a study on April 10 that ties higher suicide rates with higher rates of firearm ownership. Six days later the Washington Post's Shankar Vedantam printed a five-paragraph brief in the paper's "Science Notebook" that cribbed heavily from the Harvard School of Public Health press release. Yet nowhere in his story was the fact that a liberal anti-gun think tank gave $700,000 to finance the School's research.
No gun rights advocates or independent statisticians were quoted to critique the study's methodology or to question the political motivations that may have guided the study, although Vedantam had five days to round up critics of the study.
Another glaring omission in Vedantam's April 16 story: he failed to inform readers that the Harvard study was financed by the liberal Joyce Foundation.
A review of the Joyce Foundation's Web site makes clear it has an activist anti-gun ownership agenda.
For one thing, the foundation only gives grant monies to organizations it feels will help advance its liberal, anti-gun agenda. According to a "Common Question" page in its "gun violence" section:
For the last few weeks I have been watching two stories that, were they about Conservatives or Republicans, would have been scandals that would have shaken the rafters of the MSM. But, since these stories are about two favored Liberals, one old and one newly minted, we have seen no faux outrage, no shocked commentary, no calls for heads on pikes to be posted at the entrance to Congress, and no calls for resignations. Oh, the stories were reported all right, but all sensationalism was eschewed with the usual extrapolation to the level of a “culture of corruption” cast aside for a straight, newsy style atypical to their normal means against Republicans.
These two stories and the lack of passionate coverage of them by the MSM shows that the MSM employs as much liberal bias in what they chose not to cover as they do in what they chose to go ahead and focus upon.
Whatever happened to the notion of the "favorite son"? You know: the idea that a candidate's home state rallies around him. When it comes to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Boston Globe seems to be adopting a mirror-image attitude. Call it the "disfavored son" approach to politics.
In perhaps the lamest bit of investigative journalism to stumble down the pike in a long time, months ago, as I noted here, the Globe breathlessly revealed not that Romney had hired illegal immigrants, but that the landscaping company tending his home had done so. Remember to run a thorough INS check on the guy who takes your order next time you drive through McDonald's -- wouldn't want to undermine your future candidacy.