The air was thick with disingenuousness on Saturday’s Today show as NBC conducted a long-distance interview with the daughter of the slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal. Co-anchor Erica Hill brought up the charge that Erica Lafferty has been used as a prop by the gun control crowd. Of course, in the process, NBC was using Lafferty as a prop during that very interview.
Lafferty was in Houston, ostensibly hoping to meet with leaders and members of the NRA at their convention. Ever since the Sandy Hook shooting, Lafferty has been active in the push for stricter gun laws, and Hill mentioned this. But then the anchor added, “You have also been accused of being used as a prop. Is there anything that you think you could have done differently to change the outcome in Washington?” Lafferty scoffed at the notion:
"It's comical that I've been called a prop. I am absolutely here because I want to be, because it's the right thing to do, not because I'm being used as a prop by any means."
Erica, I hate to tell you this, but NBC is using you as a prop even as you speak. I’m sure you do want to be in Houston, and that you believe you are doing the right thing, but that doesn’t mean NBC is not capitalizing on your situation to make its gun control push.
It appeared that NBC was only interviewing Lafferty because she is the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim. The interview was very bland, with Hill asking generic questions such as, What will you say to NRA members when you talk to them? What do you expect to hear from them? What do you expect to change?
Hill never asked the obvious question, however: Would expanded background checks have prevented your mother’s death? Fortunately for Hill, Lafferty addressed the issue without being prodded: “[I]t does sound like [NRA] leadership is giving a really hard push saying that background checks wouldn't have changed Sandy Hook. No one knows that.”
Hill didn’t challenge the contention that “no one knows” that background checks wouldn’t have prevented the massacre. But the record is pretty clear: Adam Lanza stole his mother’s guns and used them to murder those 20 children and six staffers at Sandy Hook. A background check would not have stopped him from getting his hands on those weapons.
It’s odd that Hill seemed to blame Lafferty for being used as a prop. Her follow-up question was even more odd: “Is there anything that you think you could have done differently to change the outcome in Washington?”
The real question is what NBC could have done differently, and the answer is that they should have passed on this interview with Lafferty, or perhaps balanced it with an interview with Taya Kyle, the widow of former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.
Chris Kyle, you may recall, was shot to death by a fellow veteran whom he had befriended and was trying to help work through his issues with PTSD. Yet Taya Kyle does not blame guns for her husband's death and in fact gave a very moving speech at the NRA convention on Friday in which she memorialized her husband and spoke movingly about protecting the rights of good individuals to keep and use firearms for good purposes, like hunting, sport shooting, and yes, defending self and family against harm. [you can watch the video here.]
Lafferty's stated goals in Houston were to “get questions answered” and “figure out where the differences are between [NRA] leadership and its members.” Taya Kyle, an NRA member, would have been an excellent person to bring on for such perspective.
But as far as NBC is concerned, the families of "gun violence" victims only matter when they are forwarding a pro-gun control narrative.
Below is a transcript of the interview:
ERICA HILL: Dawn Hochsprung was the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was killed there last December along with five other staffers and twenty children. Her daughter Erica Lafferty joins us this morning from Houston. She's there hoping to meet with leaders of the National Rifle Association. Erica, thanks for being with us today.
ERICA LAFFERTY: Thank you.
HILL: So you’ve said that in coming down there your goal is really to have a conversation with members of the NRA who are there at this convention. What will you say to them?
LAFFERTY: I’m really just looking to get questions answered. I know that 74 percent of the NRA members do support the expanded background checks, but the huge push that’s coming down from leadership is the exact opposite of that. So my goal is really just to figure out where the differences are between leadership and its members.
HILL: What do you expect to hear?
LAFFERTY: I honestly don't know. I am anxiously awaiting those answers. From what I’ve heard just from the media being inside of the convention yesterday, it does sound like leadership is giving a really hard push saying that background checks wouldn't have changed Sandy Hook. No one knows that. They are now saying that mental health is a huge issue, which I don’t think anyone is disagreeing with, but that's not exactly what's being discussed right now. So I'm just trying to get the focus back onto background checks where it belongs.
HILL: There's been a great deal of sympathy for your loss, for the other families who lost someone at Sandy Hook across the country. And you have worked tirelessly with a number of those families, spent a lot of time in Washington talking to lawmakers. You have also been accused of being used as a prop. Is there anything that you think you could have done differently to change the outcome in Washington?
LAFFERTY: My one regret is that I didn't start earlier. It's comical that I've been called a prop. I am absolutely here because I want to be, because it's the right thing to do, not because I'm being used as a prop by any means.
HILL: So you disagree strongly with that language. Realistically, what do you expect to change? If you couldn’t get those things changed in Washington, and with a lot of the public support that you saw, what do you expect in terms of a change that will come from members of the NRA?
LAFFERTY: I’m hoping that – I know that there are a few senators that are saying that they’re willing to work on some kind of compromise and adjust the language that was in the Toomey-Manchin proposal, so I’m really just hoping to figure out what exactly it was that they were looking to change, what the small piece of it was that they didn’t agree with, so that the next time it does comes up to vote, that it will pass.
HILL: Erica Lafferty, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
LAFFERTY: Thank you.