UPDATE (01:15 EST): Law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh addresses factual errors in reporting in the New York Times and Washington Post (h/t Instapundit).
How are your local TV news shows covering today's federal court decision overturning the D.C. handgun ban?
I live just outside Washington, D.C., and the station I most often watch for local news deployed a few typical media bias tricks: stacking the deck with sources aligned on one side (4 pro-ban, one anti-ban) and focusing on emotional aspects of a debate (highlighting emotional reactions to the court ruling rather than dealing with the legal merits).
On Friday, Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the city of Washington D.C. could not ban its citizens from owning firearms because such a ban violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In light of this ruling so damaging to gun grabbers everywhere, I was curious to see how the wires were handling the news. Turns out, they don't seem too happy.
In two reports on Friday the AP gave far more time in their "balanced" report to opponents to Second Amendment rights than they did to proponents. Worse, it never seemed to occur to them to report that gun violence in Washington D.C. has consistently ranked as among the highest in the country despite being one of the strictest anti-gun cities therein.
Even in an age when eight-year-olds are expert video gamers, if you're a kid (or a 28-year-old blogger playing with your nephews) nothing beats an old-fashioned game of Cops and Robbers (or Jack Bauer vs. shady terrorist masterminds). But that doesn't sit well with liberal parents who abhor "gun violence." So what do you do if you're a liberal TV pundit like George Washington University's Jonathan Turley and your kids won't take the hint when you take away their toy guns and swords and other toy "weapons"?
Well, the law professor wrote yesterday about how he stopped worrying and learned to accept that little boys like to play with toy guns (in his kids' case more often with toy swords/lightsabers). He found that, surprise, surprise, little boys often act out good vs. evil dramas with their toy gun or sword play, and for some darn reason, it seems natural for them to do so:
LOS ANGELES, January 17, 2007 - Two men arrested in connection with a stray shot that killed a 9-year-old girl in Angelino Heights were released without being charged after authorities determined the bullet that killed the girl was fired in self-defense, it was reported Wednesday.1
This case started out reasonably, though tragically. On December 22, 2006 the Los Angeles Police Department announced the arrest of “two key suspects [Cesar Zamora and Steven Castanon] connected with the shooting” of a 9-year-old girl, and their bail was set at $500,000 each. At the time, the girl was hospitalized in critical condition.2
I have been watching the "reportage" on the regrettable incident of a teenaged killer's rampage in a Utah shopping mall with mounting interest. In nearly every story of this crime the fact that this youngster is from a Muslim background is either muted or ignored altogether.
The AP, for instance, avoids identifying the boy as a Muslim in all their stories that I saw. In one, they merely identify the region in Bosnia in which he lived as the "northeastern enclave where up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in 1995" but do not even speculate as to the boy or his family being Muslims. It is all rather dutifully avoided. In another story, the AP doesn't even use the word Muslim at all.
The proposed Castle Doctrine law being considered in the Texas legislature is getting the typical Brady Campaign treatment. An examination of their tactics is a good study for any state considering the law.
Does Brady Care More About Criminals Than Law-Abiding Victims?
Brady came out against Castle Doctrine because of its impact on criminals:
“The law only changes things for the bad guy,” Mr. Ragbourn said. “The good guys already had the law on their side.”1
The New York Times thinks you are a criminal if you own a gun. The editorial writers at the Times simply don't believe that you could possibly be a law abiding citizen if you are interested in self defense, their most recent anti-gun piece reveals.
Their January 30th piece, incongruously titled "A Day Without Guns ..." -- incongruous because the piece itself does not address any such subject as a day without guns -- cannot be interpreted too many other ways than contempt for both the citizenry as well as the Constitution.
Twenty years ago, the Florida Legislature cravenly decided to allow "law abiding" citizens to carry concealed weapons merely by declaring their preference for self-defense. Then last July, at the prodding of the gun lobby, the current crop of state lawmakers proved they could be even more corrupt and cowardly than their predecessors by deciding to make the list of gun-toting Floridians a secret.
The quotes around "law abiding" says it all. In such a case, the usage of quotes marks obviously denotes sarcasm as opposed to a mere quote and their position that no gun owner could be a law abiding citizen rings through loud and clear.
Push Poll: Definition: "A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. Push polls are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning. The term is also sometimes used incorrectly to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative. Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants."
Melissa Russo, political reporter for NBC's NYC affiliate WNBC, recently followed Rudy Giuliani up to New Hampshire. In her report on this morning's "Today," Russo stressed that at a GOP campaign stop, Giuliani failed to inform the Granite State Republicans that "he's far from a social conservative."
When I served as Mayor during the 1990’s, the Administration and Congress helped local communities fight crime by providing funds to hire more police, and making it harder for criminals to get guns. As a result, crime decreased. Over the past few years, however, the approach seems to have been switched. Now cities are often seeing less police but more guns on their streets. These new crime statistics indicate that we’re doing things backwards. – Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence1
Brady Campaign’s new spokesman seems full of high-sounding verbiage these days, but the Clinton administration’s crime policies–contrary to Helmke’s claims–fell short on crime fighting:
Cam Edwards at NRANews.com offered something interesting to add to the Geoff Dickens list of Matt Lauer's frequent episodes of anti-gun bias. In August 2000, Lauer interviewed Knoxville, Tennessee auto dealer Greg Lambert about how apparently outrageous it was that Lambert offered guns as part of his car sales pitch. (I break down laughing when Lauer says "Even children who come to your dealership are going to get a free water pistol, and some people say that's just going too far.")
But here's the Greg Lambert story Matt Lauer hasn't done. In November 2006, Lambert used his own gun to defend himself against a 19-year-old man who came to buy a car, and then decided to hold him up. When faced with Lambert's gun, the man fled and was later arrested. (A Knoxville TV station offered early details here.) The Knoxville News Sentinel then added that the county sheriff was charging the assailant with a murder that occurred ten hours earlier.
NBC's Matt Lauer celebrated 10 years at Today this morning and to be sure his run as co-anchor is chock full of biased interviews and liberal slants on a range of issues from the environment to the war on terror but a review of Lauer's record indicates one issue stands out as a particular obsession of Lauer's - guns. Whenever the issue of gun control was hot in the news Lauer could be counted on to push his guests for the harshest restrictions on the Constitutional right to bear arms. On September 5, 2002 Lauer asked then NRA President Charlton Heston: "Have you ever gotten up one morning, read the newspaper or seen the news about a particularly horrific crime or event that involved a shooting and thought even for a second, I may be on the wrong side of this issue?" And when asked by an interviewer in 2000 if he could ask Bill Clinton just two questions, Lauer eschewed impeachment, declaring: "It wouldn't be about [Monica Lewinsky]. I'd ask, 'What are you going to do about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?''
On the Federal Page in Tuesday's Washington Post, Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covers lobbying, suggests it's not "genuine" for the National Rifle Association to sound the alarm on threats to gun rights at the moment: "No one expects gun legislation to pass this year." But in dismissing the "not-so-imminent threat" (as the article's headline describes it), Birnbaum goes too far:
The document is filled with sinister-looking caricatures of supposed anti-gun figures such as filmmaker Michael Moore, comedian Rosie O'Donnell, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) and CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
When righting yourself after a downturn in life, it is best to first take an honest inventory to understand how your own actions influenced the outcome. It may seem emotionally easier to blame outside influences, but professional victims do not expend any effort to improve their lot in life, expecting somebody else to straighten things out instead. This runs counter to liberty, where personal freedom is reflected by an equal amount of personal responsibility. So we need to see exactly where we stand before we plan our recovery from the 2006 elections.
When the Clouds Cleared…
In the House, 23 A-rated, NRA-endorsed representatives–17 of them incumbents–lost to F-rated challengers. (Assumes initial rating of “?” is really an “F”.) In the Senate, 5 endorsed candidates lost, four of them incumbents, for a 72% winning percentage.
My pal Cam Edwards at NRANews.com forwarded an example of media incompetence followed by arrogance on the issue of the state of Ohio pre-empting local gun laws:
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reversed course on the issue of firearms pre-emption laws, writing an editorial in favor of pre-emption back in August and then slamming the idea a few weeks ago. Chad Baus, from Buckeye Firearms Association, had a lengthy and funny email exchange with the head of the editorial page. You can find the whole story here.
Baus found a clear case of an editorial writer who had not read the bill he was writing about, and an editorial page editor who refused to admit they hadn't read it.
(Columbia) - In Richland County alone, there have been ten murders in the past eleven days. So far the only connection is that a gun was used at each crime scene.
But some are asking if there could be another link? [sic] Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says he believes there’s a correlation between the murders and South Carolina’s gun laws.
“Anytime we make it easier to get guns, you’re going to see an increase in gun violence,” Helmke said.
Helmke said South Carolina’s laws are some of the most relaxed in the nation because there’s no state background check and no registry that tracks the sale and ownership of all guns.1
“Those two campaigns have now come together to bring the strength of both communities, the disarmament community, and the women’s rights communities together in order to stop armed violence against women, recognizing that the disarmament conversation, too often does not involve women, and that the women’s rights movement has too often not realized the importance of taking away the weapons.”
In yet another anti-gun rant, the Times has once again sounded the good liberal mantra: Got a problem? Throw money at it.
Apparently, outgoing Senator George Allen (R, Vir.) has introduced one of his last bills in the waning days of the 109th sitting of the Senate, a bill allowing concealed carry of firearms inside our National Parks.
After informing us that the bill has passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, they emotionally proclaim that they "hope it will die the miserable death it deserves". Then they go on an interesting rant on how the gun lobby has:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Murders in the United States jumped 4.8 percent last year, and overall violent crime was up 2.5 percent for the year, marking the largest annual increase in crime in the United States since 1991, according to figures released Monday by the FBI.
Robberies nationally increased 4.5 percent, and aggravated assaults increased 1.9 percent, while the number of rapes last year fell 1.9 percent, the report said.
“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it.” – Senator Dianne Feinstein, CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes, February 5, 1995
“It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of violent love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers, Number 1.
In a recent article, More Guns, More Problems, the author considers getting a concealed carry permit in her new home state, and consults some “anti-gunners” to help her decide.
This idea is just wrong, said Joshua Horwitz, the executive director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Horwitz was quick to point out that Naveed Afzal Haq, the man who shot up a Jewish community center in Seattle last month, had a concealed carry permit.
“I think the idea that these people [legal concealed carriers] don’t do any damage is wrong,” said Horwitz. “More guns equal less crime is just false.”
This past week, the media hyperventilated over two developing scandals: Congressman Mark Foley, and Bob Woodward's "State of Denial." ABC, CBS and NBC produced 103 stories on the Foley scandal, quite a bit more time then was devoted to Democratic sex scandals. The "Today" show’s Matt Lauer joined with Tim Russert to slam Speaker Hastert and the GOP. Lauer also contributed to the fawning over Bob Woodward and his new book. The MRC’s Brent Baker noted that Woodward has mocked the President’s intellect in the past.
Speaking of journalists with huge egos, Chris Matthews, yet again, displayed his partisan leanings by defending Robert ‘KKK’ Byrd, claiming that Bush "won’t tell the truth" about Iraq, and praising Clinton for his anti-Fox News rant. Perhaps he should rename his show, "Hardball...For Republicans."
And to think, it was just a few days ago that the former president of MSNBC stated, prior to Fox News, "many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias." Would this not be the best time to mention that leftist MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently called Roger Ailes a "fat ass?"
Well known liberal Rosie O’Donnell used the shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania as a springboard to promote gun control. O’Donnell, who famously sparred with Tom Selleck (video), stated on Tuesday's edition of ABC's "The View" that the event should spur tighter restrictions:
O’Donnell: "I think the horror of imagining six to thirteen-year-old girls handcuffed together and shot execution style, one by one, is perhaps enough to awaken the nation that maybe we need some stricter gun control laws."
This quickly led to an exchange with the program’s token conservative, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, in which O’Donnell asserted that there is no right to own a gun:
Hasselbeck: "So you can’t- You can't take way the right to, to bear arms."
O’Donnell: "Well, it’s not really a right. There’s debate as to what that-"
Hasselbeck: "It is a right. It’s in our Constitution. It’s the Second Amendment."
It's Bush's fault because he's not sending enough money to local governments.
He doesn't care about the uptick because the victims tend to be young black men.
Oh, and to heck with the Constitution.
There. That wraps it up nicely.
My favorite bit is Venocchi's approving citation of L.A. police chief William Bratton:
``The federal government has stepped back significantly from dealing with the issue of local crime. This administration in Washington clearly feels that local crime is an issue for local towns and municipalities."
The feminist spirit was alive and well on Friday’s edition of "The View." The women were shocked by the concept of women with concealed weapons, and positively giddy over Ted Turner’s recent remarks that men should be banned from public office for a hundred years:
Barbara Walters: "We particularly like this quote, because we have this remarkable woman on with us today...Ted Turner, when he was talking about the United Nations, said, quote, ‘Men should be barred from public office for a hundred years in every part of the world. It would be a much kinder, gentler, more intelligently-run world. Men have had millions of years and we’ve screwed it up hopelessly. Let's give it to the women.’"
Rosie O’Donnell: "Yeah! I say bravo! Go, Ted."
The "remarkable" woman Walters was hyping was socialist Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, the first female in that country to be elected to that office. During their "Hot Topics" segment, the co-hosts marveled at how an agnostic woman could win the presidency in a "macho, Latin American country" while the United States had yet to elect a female president:
In 2002, the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence (CSHV) published a report on the alleged merits of gun owner licensing, beginning with an unproven premise:
For years, polls have shown strong, stable public support for the idea of licensing access to handguns. The public intuitively understands both the concept of licensing and why it is appropriate to license people who want access to handguns.
With the gun control movement running for the hills nationwide,
opponents of the Second Amendment have taken comfort in the fact that many of America's largest cities remain solidly in the anti-gun camp. In such places, it's not uncommon
for local government officials to initiate so-called gun buyback
programs where police purchase weapons citizens bring in, no questions
Basically no one who studies firearms policy believes
these initiatives actually work to reduce crime or take guns away from
by the DOJ and even Harvard University have discounted the
effectiveness of buyback programs. Just a few months ago, the liberal
Boston Phoenix alternative newspaper ran an article
that contended they enable criminals to afford newer, more deadly
weapons. Most of the time, the bulk of residents selling their guns are
older, as are their firearms--not exactly the kind of people you'd see
engaging in armed robbery.
All of this information
can be easily found on the internet. Surely the District of Columbia,
which hosted a buyback program over the weekend, was aware of it. One
would hope that at least one person at the Associated Press or the Washington Post
knew that gun buyback programs don't work, or that they'd at least have
the journalistic inclination to look into how effective such
initiatives are. But hard-hitting, thoughtful local reporting isn't
exactly in high supply in America's newspapers today, to say nothing of
research critical of liberal shibboleths.
Apparently Bravo feels that a Michael Moore movie is worth watching on the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Starting at 4:30 EST today we can all watch Bowling for Columbine, Moore's movie on gun violence. If they are going to choose programming for this day, why not go all the way and show Fahrenheit 9/11! Is it a bit distasteful or is it just me?
The many failures of the anti-gun movement has caused it to turn to other means of pushing its agenda, including the creation of sock puppet "moderate" gun groups. The strategy is nothing new among left-leaning groups who have historically tried to pass themselves off as "moderate." But a liberal pseudo-moderation ploy can never work without a media component; this case is no different as Cam Edwards (HT: Glenn Reynolds) notes:
When is an anti-gunner a pro-gun advocate? The obvious answer is never,
but that’s too simple a response. The actual answer is “any time a
member of the media wants to portray the anti-gunner in a pro-gun
light”. Take, for example, a new article in The New Republic entitled
“Gun Crazy: The Revolt Against the NRA” by Michael Blanding. Blanding,
a freelance writer from Boston, profiles the group calling itself
American Hunters and Shooters Association. AHSA bills itself as a
“moderate alternative to the NRA”, but in reality it’s an organization
founded by leaders in the anti-gun movement who have strong ties to the
Blanding’s article calls John Rosenthal, the
president of AHSA’s foundation, a “Boston real estate developer who
served a stint on the board of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence.” But the article also quotes Rosenthal as saying he left the
Brady Campaign because of the organization’s “extreme anti-gun stance”.
Blanding leaves out any mention of the fact that Rosenthal created, and
still runs, the Massachusetts-based outfit known as Stop Handgun
Violence. Despite the fact that Blanding is from Boston, I was willing
to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Rosenthal didn’t
volunteer that information and Blanding simply didn’t do his research.
Then I found an article in Boston Magazine from February 2006 entitled
“Straight Shooter”. It’s a glowing profile of John Rosenthal, complete
with many mentions of his work with Stop Handgun Violence, and Michael
Blanding wrote it.
There's a certain irony to my column today. The author whose op-ed piece I'm about to criticize grew up hunting and shooting in Iowa, and still owns several guns. I grew up in Jewish neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens where about the only concealed items were tzitzis - undergarments men wear to remind them of Biblical commandments. I've never owned a gun and my forays into shooting have been limited to Boy Scout camp and one adult session at a trap range - or was it skeet?