On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell granted staunch gun rights supporter Michael Bloomberg a platform to blast the NRA as "stupid", and brush aside gun-owning Americans as a radical minority. O'Donnell set up the New York City mayor to accuse the gun rights group of being under the thumb of gun manufacturers.
The CBS anchors also took a more subdued approach to the Bloomberg segment, compared to their contentious interview of NRA President David Keene just minutes earlier. Co-anchor Charlie Rose led the segment with a softball question to the billionaire politician [audio clips from the Bloomberg interview are available here; video below the jump]:
CHARLIE ROSE: You believe the country wants change.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Yes – I think it took a tragedy of 26 people – 20 children one time in a nice community in the suburbs...people looked at that and they said, we can't do this anymore. We got to stop it. Keep in mind, there are 33 people killed with handguns every day, and more people die from suicide with handguns than even get killed.
Rose did press his guest a bit when his guest outlined his general plan to get gun control through Congress. But this allowed Bloomberg to launch his attack on gun owners:
ROSE: How are you going to overcome the opposition that has derailed all gun control legislation in the past?
BLOOMBERG: Well, what you have to do is you have to convince the Congress that this is the right thing to do. You can't force them do it. You shouldn't force them to do it. It's democracy, and you can make good arguments. And I think you can show that you can have your Second Amendment rights to bear arms to – for sport, for target practice, for – for hunting, for defense. But also-
ROSE: But people are buying guns because they fear that you want to come and take their guns out of their hands.
BLOOMBERG: It is true, and it's a great visual, Charlie, for your show – to show people lined up at one store. Keep in mind, there's 330 million people in America, and most aren't at gun stores....The bottom line is, there's too many guns, and the guns are getting in the hands of our youngsters; in the hands of criminals; in the hands of people with substance abuse; and the people with psychiatric problems. There are federal laws against it. But the laws aren't broad enough. When the laws were written, everybody bought their guns at gun stores. Today, 40 percent of them come from the Internet, or come from gun shows. In the olden days, people bought pistols and rifles with a bolt – a single action. Today, you can buy something where if you keep pulling the trigger, it keeps firing, firing, firing...We just don't need assault weapons out there. There's nothing sporting about it. If you can't shoot the deer with two shots, you...shouldn't be out there shooting.
Later in the segment, O'Donnell brought up the recent NRA ad, just as she did during the Keene interview. But this time, she merely sought the mayor's reaction to it, instead of hounding him about its supposed inappropriateness:
NORAH O'DONNELL: The NRA put out...this controversial ad, in which the President's kids and other people's kids were mentioned at least three times. The NRA president – you just heard him say, 'No, this is not about them. This is about everybody else's kids who don't have the same elitist protection.'
BLOOMBERG: It's hard to understand the management of the NRA – what they're thinking. Number one, their members - every poll shows - are in favor of reasonable controls. Number two-
O'DONNELL: Including our CBS poll today.
BLOOMBERG: Right, fine. To do an ad – to bring the President's kids in, is just dumb P.R. I mean, you really have to be stupid to do that.
Moments later, the former NBC News correspondent raised the issue of gun manufacturers' influence on the gun rights organization:
O'DONNELL: Can I ask you one question, and this is – because you've done so much study on this. The NRA has millions of members. You are taking them on for the first time. Does the NRA represent gun owners or gun manufacturers?
BLOOMBERG: Well, the NRA is getting its funding from gun manufacturers, and a lot of congressional people got monies from gun manufacturers. In fact, gun manufacturers are the only manufacturers in the country that I know of that have been granted from immunity from misuse of their products – or them producing products that they know will hurt people. The automobile companies don't have that kind of restrictions. CBS doesn't have that kind of restriction – that kind of protection.
The 250,000 people who joined the NRA over the past month, along with the 4 million-plus who were already members, must be a fluke in CBS's view.