NBC, CBS Allow a Scant 43 Seconds to Hero Doctor Who Shot Crazed Gunman

In the wake of the Newtown shooting, the networks highlighted President Obama's call for more gun control to rein in violence. However, NBC and CBS on Thursday night and Friday morning allowed a mere 43 seconds for the story of a hero doctor who used his own firearm to shoot a crazed gunman in Pennsylvania. Good Morning America reporter Ron Claiborne covered the story in a full report. The ABC journalist recounted, "...A psychiatric patient with a criminal past got into an argument with his caseworker, opened fire on her allegedly and then the doctor pulled out his gun and shot the gunman." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]

Former patient Richard Plotts entered the psychiatric wing of the Mercy Fitzgerald hospital and shot his caseworker, Teresa Hunt. Quick thinking Doctor Lee Silverman pulled out his own weapon and hit Plotts twice in the stomach. Claiborne chided, "This morning, it is unclear why Dr. Silverman brought a gun to work, which is against hospital policy." (Perhaps because he was worried about just this situation?) 

 

The journalist did allow, "But police say Plotts may have done more harm had Dr. Silverman not intervened." As for Silverman, "...Authorities say it is legal in this state for him to have a gun" and he will not be "the subject of a criminal investigation in this matter." 

CBS This Morning only bothered with a ten second news brief and failed to cover the story at all on Thursday's Evening News. 

The NBC Nightly News skipped the story on Thursday. On Friday, Today co-host Natalie Morales hailed Silverman as a "hero" and briefly noted, "Police believe Doctor Silverman then shot the suspect with a gun he was carrying for self defense." However, the four-hour program only allowed 33 seconds for the story. 

World News anchor Diane Sawyer managed 24 seconds. She referred to the "fast-thinking doctor" who "used his own gun." 

A February 2013 study by the Media Research Center found that the networks slanted pro-gun control stories by a margin of eight-to-one. 

Apparently, examples of lawful gun owners defending themselves and others don't warrant much attention. 

A transcript of the July 25 GMA segment is below: 


7:07

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now to the deadly shootout at a Pennsylvania hospital that left one person dead and a doctor wounded. Bringing it to an end was the quick thinking of a doctor and ABC's Ron Claiborne is outside the hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania, with the latest. Good morning, Ron. 

RON CLAIBORNE: Good morning to you, Robin. Quick thinking and armed. Authorities say what happened here is that a psychiatric patient with a criminal past got into an argument with his caseworker, opened fire on her allegedly and then the doctor pulled out his gun and shot the gunman. This morning, new details about the shootout that put Pennsylvania's mercy Fitzgerald hospital on lock down and left one person dead. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You don't expect this to happen. 

CLAIBORNE: It was just after 2:00 P.M. Thursday when police say Richard Plotts seen here in an old photograph made his way to the psychiatric floor of Mercy Fitzgerald's wellness center with his caseworker, 53-year-old Teresa Hunt. The two entered the office of psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman for a routine appointment. Soon, witnesses say they hear loud arguing inside. Employees tell police they opened the door and saw Plotts pointing a gun at Dr. Silverman. They reportedly called 911. but it's too late. By 2:30, shots fired. 

SECOND UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: 'Cause I'm scared. Because I'm really scared. Shook me up. 

CLAIBORNE: Dr. Silverman tells prosecutors that Plotts shot and killed Hunt, the caseworker. That's when the doctor said he dove behind his desk and pulled out his own gun, firing back. 

JACK WHELAN (District Attorney): The extent of the amount of bullets that were fired between the perpetrator and the doctor is unclear. 

CLAIBORNE:  During the gunfight, a bullet grazes Dr. Silverman's head and Plotts is shot twice in the stomach but survives. Prosecutors say it all comes to an end when the struggle spills out into the hallway and another doctor and caseworker tackle Plotts. This morning, it is unclear why Dr. Silverman brought a gun to work, which is against hospital policy. But police say Plotts may have done more harm had Dr. Silverman not intervened. This morning, Plotts remains in critical condition and as for Dr. Silverman, authorities say it is legal in this state for him to have a gun and he will not be, Robin, the subject of a criminal investigation in this matter. 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org