A Tuesday story on ABC's World News, which ignored soaring state spending, reflected frustration with California voters for the anticipated rejection of ballot initiatives to raise taxes as reporter Laura Marquez blamed the Golden State's budget deficit on an “unwillingness to raise taxes” stretching all the way back to 1978's Proposition 13. In fact, though personal income tax collections “dropped 14% last year,” a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article noted they “soared 70% from 2002 to 2007.”
In the story pegged to Tuesday's vote on a series of initiatives to raise or extend an income-tax surcharge, a big hike in the car tax and one point sales tax jump to 9 percent, Marquez fretted that “polls show five of six initiatives aimed at reducing the budget gap are likely to be voted down,” leading Schwarzenegger, Marquez relayed, to warn “the defeat of these measures will mean billions of dollars in cuts to social services and education, and will force thousands of layoffs from the state rolls.” From San Francisco, Marquez rued:
Coast to coast, state governments are swimming in red ink, overwhelmed by the tanking economy. Here in California, the problem is even worse because of its sheer size and an unwillingness to raise taxes. Thirty years ago, Californians passed Proposition 13, mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes.
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
A night after the CBS Evening News ignored CIA Director Leon Panetta's rebuke of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Saturday's newscast continued the blackout as anchor Jeff Glor only mentioned Pelosi in setting up a question by explaining she “put herself in a very awkward position” when “she said the CIA lied to her or misled her about water-boarding,” before he asked Time magazine veteran John Dickerson: “Is this something that's over for the Speaker now or does this continue?”
Though the whole topic is apparently already over for CBS News, Dickerson maintained “it's not over for the Speaker” as he proceeded to empathize with her plight by suggesting she's “got to hope another issue...blows her off the front pages” and that “when Congress goes home for their recesses that somehow she gets out of the news cycle because she's still in a fix.” But not one that interests CBS News.
Nor NBC, which like ABC on Saturday night, didn't utter Pelosi's name – possibly because all three evening newscasts were so exited about what they made their lead stories: President Obama naming Utah's Republican Governor, Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China. “A political masterstroke” declared ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News in repeating the same phrase applied moments earlier by reporter Jonathan Karl. Stephanopoulos even managed to get in a dig at conservatives as he hailed the pick as “one more sign that this is a party [Republican] where the reformers -- the moderates -- are looking for an exit.”
After ignoring for three weeks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's denial she was briefed by the CIA about how water-boarding was being used, only to decide it was news on Thursday when Pelosi at a press conference accused the CIA of “lying” and of “misleading” the Congress, on Friday the CBS and NBC evening newscasts fell silent again despite the backlash from CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic Congressman. He issued an emphatic statement about how “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress” and declaring: “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaida, describing the 'enhanced techniques that had been employed.'”
That was enough of a news hook for ABC's World News to make it the Friday night lead, as fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos teased his top story: “Tonight, firing back: The CIA Director toe-to-toe with the Speaker. He says Congress was told the truth about interrogations.” Reporter Jonathan Karl recounted how Panetta is “pushing back hard against the Speaker of the House” and that Republicans are raising her hypocrisy in advocating punishment for those who authorized a technique of which she was aware.
He concluded by undermining her latest spin of claiming she was misled by Bush administration political operatives.
After three weeks of virtual silence, all three broadcast networks provided full reports last night (Thursday) about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s shifting story about what she knew about the interrogation methods used against al Qaeda terrorists, methods that liberals have decried as criminal torture. This morning (Friday), NBC and CBS also provided full reports, but ABC’s Good Morning America weirdly relegated Pelosi’s rant that the CIA “misleads us all the time” to a brief, 28-second report during the 8am ET hour.
That’s about as much time as the newscast gave to the rescue of a kangaroo caught in deep water off an Australian beach.
NBC’s Today was by far the toughest on Pelosi this morning, with co-host Matt Lauer opening the show by demanding: “What did she know and when did she know it? The CIA claims in a 2002 briefing, they told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi they were using harsh interrogation techniques. She says that’s a lie. So who’s telling the truth?”
Chrysler announced plans to eliminate 789 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships across the nation, yet on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all showcased the very same upset Long Island dealer, Jim Anderer of Island Jeep in Lindenhurst, New York, while two other dealers also on the closing list were each featured on two of the three evening newscasts.
ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News both ran soundbites from Stanley Balzekas of Chicago's Balzekas Motor Sales; CBS and the NBC Nightly News gave airtime to Howard Sellz of Big Valley Dodge in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.
But only Anderer, who must have had a busy day in front of film crews from the national and local media, earned the triple play on the broadcast networks. Following a piece from Chris Bury in Chicago, ABC's World News ran a “1st Person” segment with Anderer railing against Chrysler. The CBS Evening News put two bites from Anderer in a piece narrated from Atlanta by Mark Strassmann and NBC slid a clip of Anderer into a Nightly News story from Lee Cowan in Los Angeles.
“The problem for Republicans right now is the party doesn't seem big enough for conservatives like [Rush] Limbaugh and moderates like Colin Powell and Senator Arlen Specter,” ABC's Jonathan Karl contended in a Wednesday night World News story on the plight of the GOP which, though framed by anchor Charles Gibson as exploring “whether it can attract new voters by becoming more conservative or more moderate,” came down, no surprise, on the side of those who think the party is already too conservative. Gibson pointed out: “The number of voters who have left the party is growing. In 2003, 31 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat. Now, only one in five say they are a Republican.”
Instead of considering the possibility the party lost support by moving too far to the left by being identified with President Bush's big spending policies or that the congressional leadership is hardly inspiring to conservatives, Karl presumed it's a problem that Dick Cheney, “the most visible Republican in the country these days,” has declared “his preference for Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell.” Karl featured “Republican strategist” Mark McKinnon who ridiculed Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh: “If the Republican party does not expand its tent, it's going to turn into a circus, and it's going to become a minority freak show that sort of features Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney.” Karl followed up with how “Senator Lindsey Graham says more moderates is exactly what the party needs.”
The food police are at it again telling us what and how to eat. This time, they're attacking the restaurant industry under the premise the general public is too ignorant to determine what is healthy and what isn't.
"A well-known health group is out with a new warning about America's most popular chain restaurants saying many of their meals have dangerous amounts of salt," "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The Center for Science in the Public Interest checked 102 meals and found 85 of them had more than a day's worth of sodium."
During his first 100 days as President, Barack Obama has pushed an audaciously liberal agenda which, if enacted, would have radical consequences for America for decades. With Democrats enjoying monopoly control of the House and Senate, the news media have a professional duty to scrutinize those policies, and give audiences both sides of the story — not just the perspective of a powerful Chief Executive.
Unfortunately, a Media Research Center analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage of President Obama’s first 100 days in office shows network reporters have failed as watchdogs. The networks have raised few doubts about Obama’s left-wing agenda and showered each of Obama’s major policy initiatives with positive press.
MRC analysts looked at all 982 broadcast evening news stories about Obama and his administration from Inauguration Day (January 20) through April 29. Key findings:
With much fanfare, President Barack Obama rolled out his intentions to cut $17 billion from the federal budget on May 7. But despite the spinmeisters, not everyone was buying it.
"The White House today played up its proposed cuts to the federal budget," ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said on his May 7 broadcast. "That budget plays up to $3.6 trillion. The White House wants to trim a tiny fraction - $17 billion. The president, arguing that seemingly small amount is a step in the right direction."
And that's exactly what ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper emphasized during his report on the budget cuts.
On ABC’s World News Saturday, and the same day’s CBS Evening News, correspondents suggested that conservative positions on social issues were responsible for the Republican party’s recent electoral misfortunes, as the two programs filed stories about an appearance in Arlington by Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney as part of an effort to rebuild the party’s appeal. ABC cited a recent ABC News / Washington Post poll showing only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, while CBS cited a Pew Research poll finding the number had dropped from 30 percent in 2004 to 23 percent currently.
After a soundbite of Jeb Bush explaining that Republicans needed to spend more time "listening," "learning," and "upgrading our message," ABC’s Rachel Martin contended that "That means moving hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage to the side, and shifting the focus to health care, education and the economy."
And, ignoring the fact that a substantial number of moderate House Democrats have taken conservative positions on issues like guns and abortion to win in their own conservative leaning districts, CBS’s Kimberly Dozier more directly charged that conservative positions on such issues by Republicans had hurt the party: "The trio notably avoided controversial touch stones like gun rights or abortion, which are blamed for driving away moderates and independents." Notably, 65 House Democrats recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating their opposition to a new assault weapons ban.
After days of media alarm regarding the H1N1 virus, or "swine flu," ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" provided a calmer analysis on April 30.
Medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson told anchor Charles Gibson the "good news" about this flu virus and admitted that "sometimes we as the media" "do overreact."
"In an amazing feat of modern science Charlie, they've been able to send out this sequence for scientists to study and they've found a couple of interesting things. One - there's an amino acid that's missing in this virus that is found in more lethal viruses suggesting that this may not be, at least in its current form, as lethal as some had feared," Johnson told ABC viewers.
"There's also a suggestion that its enough like past flu viruses, particularly the 1957 virus, that is may have produced immunity over the years especially in older people. Which may, and I stress the word may explain why older people do not seem to be getting it yet," Johnson continued.
CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson tried to provide cover Thursday night for Vice President Biden's gaffe about the swine flu threat, which forced two cabinet secretaries and the White House spokesman to correct his advice to avoid planes and subways, as Couric asked an expert to confirm “that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” and Johnson spun it into a positive, proposing: “In an ironic way, the reaction -- the information that has come out in reaction -- has been very informative.”
Talking with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Couric pointed out how “the Vice President created a bit of a brouhaha when he said he would tell his family to avoid confined public spaces, but that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” Ashton supported Couric's premise, suggesting “common sense precautions apply here,” so “people who have weakened immune systems, who have cancer, are HIV-positive,” if they would avoid people “a week ago, they should do it today.” But Biden was not warning just those with such vulnerabilities.
This wasn't the first time Couric helped Biden. Last year, when candidate Biden declared in a taped interview with Couric that “when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television,” she ran the soundbite in which he had cited FDR to denounce Bush's handling of the economy, but failed to point out his historical error: FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his “fireside chats” were on the radio.
Is "World News" anchor Charles Gibson already planning for Barack Obama's second term? The ABC journalist briefly wrapped up coverage from the President's prime-time press conference on Wednesday and signed off by asserting, "100 days in office. 1,362 days remaining in his first term." 1362 days left in his first term? Was that a bit of a Freudian slip?
Even Gibson, however, seemed to notice the incredible softball question from New Times reporter Jeff Zeleny about what had "enchanted" Obama the most during his first 100 days. Gibson asserted, "...I suspect the question that will get the most attention, what has surprised you about being President, what troubled you, what enchanted you and what has humbled you now that you've been in the White House?"
White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel made the rounds of the TV anchors Wednesday. Though President Obama has exploited the economic problems to push his big spending plans, ABC’s Charles Gibson empathized with how he inherited a bad economy as he ran Emanuel’s explanation about “how the President handles the severe problems he's inherited” and then cued up Emanuel to agree it’s “fair to say though that he ran for one job and got another given the condition of the economy as he takes office?”
Turning to George Stephanopoulos for an assessment of Obama’s first 100 days, Stephanopoulos trumpeted how “his number one accomplishment has been to inspire a sense of confidence in the country,” as evidenced by how the “right direction” polling number as now at “the highest level in six years,” and so that confidence “not only gives President Obama a political cushion, but it could have a real world economic impact.” That spin nearly exactly matched what Emanuel told CBS’s Katie Couric, as both forwarded the “sense of confidence” phrase, when she asked him to name the administration’s “greatest accomplishment?” Emanuel answered:
A renewed sense of hope in America and a sense that we can actually meet these challenges. They weren't so big that we couldn't do 'em. And we've helped give America that sense of confidence again, that we can meet these challenges and this country is headed, finally, in the right direction.
So, did Emanuel channel Stephanopoulos’ advice on how best to tout Obama’s achievements or did Stephanopoulos just repeat Emanuel’s talking point he heard in one of their regular phone conversations? Or is it just a coincidence the press corps and the Obama White House think alike?
Once again, in its quest for a scapegoat for a crisis facing society, the media has set its sights on a large corporation.
A segment on the April 28 "World News with Charles Gibson" by ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, reporting from La Gloria, Mexico, went after Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) for operating a pig farm near the city where the swine flu pandemic is believed to have originated.
"When people heard here that a case of swine flu had been traced to this area, few were surprised," Kofman said. "And in the next breath they'll tell you they think they know where it came from."
The evening newscasts on Tuesday night attributed Senator Arlen Specter's motivation for changing parties to how he realized he wouldn't win the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, but they also, just as they did with Senator Jim Jeffords in 2001, eagerly relayed -- without any challenge -- Specter's spin that, in the words of the TV journalists, he “had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party,” the GOP's “increasingly conservative tilt” and “the fringe of the party.”
CBS framed its story around that convenient target as the Evening News showcased Specter's charge in its tease: “The party has shifted very far to the, to the right.” Katie Couric noted that Specter “acknowledged he cannot win the Republican primary, so he's becoming a Democrat. But as Chip Reid reports, Specter says there were other reasons behind the switch.” Setting up the same Specter soundbite as in the tease, Reid reported the “moderate” Specter “says he's leaving the Republican party because the Republican party left him.” Reid bolstered Specter's concern by asserting “200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans have registered as Democrats in just the past year. Specter blames the party's increasingly conservative tilt.” Specter exclaimed: “There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
On NBC, Kelly O'Donnell described how “he would be facing a much more conservative challenger” in the primary and “couldn't risk” losing, before she related Specter's rationalization “that voters who tend to turn out in the primaries tend to be on the fringe of the party, not a moderate Republican like he is.” ABC's Jonathan Karl highlighted how “Specter said he had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party.” Then viewers were treated to Specter scolding conservatives: “They don't make any bones about their willingness to lose the general election if they can purify the party. There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
Earlier on Monday, my colleague Tim Graham previewed a study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs finding that Barack Obama received more television coverage in his first 50 days in office than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did through similar points in their presidencies combined.
The final report has now been published, and the results are even more absurd.
Instead of providing any suggestion President Barack Obama's hectoring of credit card company executives, with the not-so-subtle threat of further regulation, is an improper strong-arm tactic, the network evening newscasts on Thursday night hailed Obama's efforts to “protect consumers” -- in stories each complete with a sympathetic victim of jacked-up interest rates, but barely any time, if any, for a view contrary to Obama's.
ABC's Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, tough talk. A stern warning from the President to credit card executives. If you don't protect the consumers, the government will.” CBS's Katie Couric fretted about the impact of “the credit card fees, penalties, and rising interest rates” which led the President to tell “the credit card companies: enough.” Reporter Anthony Mason began: “Clean up your act. That was President Obama's message to credit card issuers today.” NBC anchor Brian Williams trumpeted how Obama has come to the rescue: “Today the President admonished the credit card companies and came down on the side of consumers.”
It just wouldn't be Earth Day without a catastrophic global warming segment from the network news, so ABC correspondent Bill Blakemore delivered just that April 22.
Blakemore warned viewers of "World News with Charles Gibson" that carbon emissions were causing disastrous changes in the air and the sea and blamed the United States in his one-sided report, even though the U.S. recently dropped to second place in global carbon output.
"To understand the state of the planet today, you need to look at the air and under the water," Blakemore said. "The air is getting warmer, faster. Carbon emissions are now rising faster than worst-case scenarios projected just a few years ago. China just surpassed the U.S. as the biggest culprit, though China's got four times as many people."
April 17 marked the 13th annual "Day of Silence," a gay rights protest event sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) that takes place in schools across the nation. Of course, gay groups can afford to be silent for a day, because they have the mainstream news media to speak for them.
"Day of Silence" is, according to the event's Web site, "a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools ...the event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT."
Predictably, the media covered this year's event in a positive manner, leaving little room for discussions of it as an indoctrination tool pushed on students by gay activists. And they certainly didn't report that the LGBT community and its allies don't have a problem with "name calling, bullying and harassment" when it's directed against people who disagree with them.
In the midst of conservative criticism that President Barack Obama, at the summit in Trinidad over the weekend joked around with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and was uncritical of a 50-minute anti-American screed from Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, ABC decided to defend Obama's foreign policy mettle -- with his only failure coming where he has followed Bush's policy. Martha Raddatz began by trying to undermine the pictures of a jovial Obama with Chavez: “Today, cell phone video images emerged of a stern and serious President Obama during a brief encounter with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The image counters the cordial hand shake with Chavez who once called Mr. Obama an 'ignoramus' and George Bush 'a devil.'”
She noted that “it should not be a surprise that President Obama is reaching out to friend and foe after promising a stark change,” before she recited, interspersed with Obama soundbites, how in a mere 90 days “he has reached out to the Iranian people...Muslims worldwide...And the Russians.” She asked: “And where has all this gotten him?” Her one expert, former Chicago Sun-Times and New York Daily News executive James Hoge, who now runs Foreign Policy magazine, hailed Obama's approach: “I think he's doing it very sequentially, so that he's got a better chance of getting deals with people, getting some of the things we want to have done, done.”
Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh says the mainstream media attitude on President Barack Obama is that he is too big to fail. What CNN has planned for the night of April 29 is one of several signs that could be the case.
"CNN is marking President Barack Obama's 100th day in office with prime-time coverage that will recall last year's primary and general election nights, right down to John King's magic wall," the AP article said. "The network says it will compile a national report card of Obama's performance, using opinion polls and a series of viewer surveys. The big night is April 29, a week from this Wednesday, pre-empting regular programming."
ABC's Charles Gibson, Jan Crawford Greenburg and George Stephanopoulos all stressed Thursday night how, Bush administration Justice Department memos clarifying what techniques interrogators could use with suspected terrorists, included what Stephanopoulos described as “torture with an insect” -- a method ABC failed to note was not ever employed. “Tonight, secret memos,” anchor Charles Gibson teased World News, “new documents reveal in vivid detail just how far the Bush administration went in interrogating terror suspects, using insects, confinement boxes, water-boards and more.”
Reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg characterized the memos as “chilling in their detail,” citing how “they approved prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect...” Following Greenburg, Stephanopoulos marveled: “Even some congressional officials who had the highest security clearances were surprised by some of the details today, especially that detail about the fact that Zubayda was tortured with an insect in a confinement box.” Let that formulation sink in: “Tortured with an insect.” The horror! (Audio: MP3 of the three insect comments)
Zubaydah, however, was never forced to spend time near a caterpillar, Pete Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News: “In the case of al-Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah, who feared insects, interrogators were given permission to put a harmless one like a caterpillar in a box in which he was confined, but that technique was never used.”
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)
I could of course be commenting on the poor quality of the alleged journalism. But in this case I'm talking about their ratings, which is of course largely caused by said poor journalism.
Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts' combined ratings had dropped about 17% since the collective high they achieved during the week of January 26, the first full week after Barack Obama's nomination.
Make that 21%. In the 25-54 demographic, the drop has been 30%. And it's not just a seasonality thing. The collective drop compared to last year is over 4%, continuing a long-term decline the nets surely hoped they might prevent if they could just get their guy elected to the White House. No dice, guys.
Here is an updated week-by-week graph for each network since the first of the year, followed by some demographic and overall info (based on info found at the Evening News Ratings Category at Media Bistro's TV Newser):
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
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: