NBC's Lauer Parrots 'White House's Argument' to Curb Gun Rights

Following an one-sided report on Monday's NBC Today about the push for more gun restrictions, which touted Democratic Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy dismissing the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre as a "clown at the circus," co-host Matt Lauer lamented: "There does seem to be a disconnect...90% of the Americans, when asked about expanding background checks say, 'Yes, we're in favor of that.' And yet, if you look at the prospects for doing it in Congress, they don't seem all that positive." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

White House correspondent Peter Alexander responded by informing Lauer: "Yeah, Matt, that's very much the White House's argument, a point that the White House, President Obama will make again this afternoon in Connecticut."

In his report, Alexander included a sound bite of White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer announcing: "We're going to try to get the strongest bill we can and there's no reason that we can't have one. This is a 90% issue, we can't get 90% of Americans to agree on the weather."

Alexander fretted: "Still, the forecast is gray. Some conservative Republicans have already warned they'll block any proposals that they say threaten the Second Amendment."

Throughout the segment, Alexander promoted the goals of gun control advocates: "You know, the biggest sticking point throughout remains background checks, what a leading gun control advocate has described as 'the most pivotal piece of any new legislation'....this is what gun control advocates really want, they want to expand background checks to cover more than just the roughly 55,000 federally licensed firearm dealers in the country right now, to expand them to also consider – to also go over gun shows and those who make purchases online..."

No sound bite of gun rights supporter was included in the coverage.


Here is a full transcript of the April 8 segment:

7:05AM ET

MATT LAUER: President Obama takes his push for tighter gun control legislation to Connecticut today, this as parents of the victims of the Newtown school shooting speak out in emotional new interviews. NBC's White House correspondent Peter Alexander has details on that. Hi, Peter.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Story to Watch; Gun Debate Rages; President to Addresses Issue as Newtown Families Speak Out]

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Matt, good morning to you. The timing of this trip is also significant, with Congress now back in session today after a two-week break. Also, Congress is prepared to begin within days tackling the issue of gun safety.

You know, the biggest sticking point throughout remains background checks, what a leading gun control advocate has described as "the most pivotal piece of any new legislation." With the gun safety debate echoing nationwide, President Obama returns to Connecticut today, less than an hour from Newtown, still touched by tragedy. Several victim's loved ones sharing their personal quest for action with 60 Minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They need to not just look us in the eyes, but look our children and the lost ones, and see those faces, see what's gone and remember this isn't just about political parties, this isn't just about careers. This is about people and this is about making change to save people and it's important to remember the people that you are doing this for.

ALEXANDER: Mr. Obama faces new urgency as senators could start debating the issue, including expanded background checks, this week.

DAN PFEIFFER [PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SENIOR ADVISOR]: We're going to try to get the strongest bill we can and there's no reason that we can't have one. This is a 90% issue, we can't get 90% of Americans to agree on the weather.

ALEXANDER: Still, the forecast is gray. Some conservative Republicans have already warned they'll block any proposals that they say threaten the Second Amendment. Gun control advocates insist they're making progress locally. Since Newtown, six states, including Colorado and New York, have passed tougher gun laws. But consider the resistance, a total of ten states, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee among them, have approved new laws weakening gun restrictions, though most are minor.

Connecticut's governor, Dan Malloy, on Sunday ridiculed NRA head Wayne LaPierre, who said Connecticut's new restrictions added to the books just last week, wouldn't stop criminals from illegally getting guns.

DAN MALLOY [GOV. D-CT]: Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus, they get the most attention, and that's what he's paid to do.

LAUER: Peter, there does seem to be a disconnect, as you point out in your piece, 90% of the Americans, when asked about expanding background checks say, "Yes, we're in favor of that." And yet, if you look at the prospects for doing it in Congress, they don't seem all that positive.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, Matt, that's very much the White House's argument, a point that the White House, President Obama will make again this afternoon in Connecticut.

Consider this, this is what gun control advocates really want, they want to expand background checks to cover more than just the roughly 55,000 federally licensed firearm dealers in the country right now, to expand them to also consider – to also go over gun shows and those who make purchases online, but that's really the sticking point. Opponents are afraid if you do that the government would create some sort of federal gun registry, which the White House insists is not the case. Matt.

LAUER: Alright, Peter Alexander at the White House for us this morning. Peter, as always, thanks very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC