In the aftermath of Monday’s Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left six dead and dozens hurt, CBS Mornings and NBC’s Today partnered Tuesday with Mayor Nancy Rotering (D) as the latter called for the discussion of the suspect’s disturbing social media history (and thus the missed warning signs) “to be diminished” and instead focus on banning “weapons of war.”
Rotering first appeared on NBC and, after being asked to provide an update on the case, co-host Hoda Kotb noted that, nine years ago, Rotering “signed an assault weapons ban that was in place and is in place,” meaning it didn’t prevent the shooting.
Questioned if she knew “where the gun may have come from,” Rotering went replied she was unsure before shifting focus to gun control:
[A]t some point, this nation needs to have a conversation about these weekly events involving the murder of dozens of people with legally obtained guns. If that’s what our laws stand for, then I think we need to re-examine the laws.
Kotb pulled on this thread by lobbing a softball:
What does it think — what does it tell you about us as a nation? I feel like we see so many shootings. There was — at a grocery store, fourth graders at a school. What does this — what does this tell you about our country?
Rotering went unchallenged as she lashed out at those who disagree with her city’s views on gun control, smearing Americans as having “values” that “are askew” to the point that millions of Americans robbed them of happiness on the Fourth of July.
“[B]ecause of this gun culture, our nation turned its back on us and turned its back on our celebration. We, as a country, have to have a very strong conversation with ourselves...[I]t’s one of those things where you ask yourself: If this reflects the values of who we are, then what does that say about us as a nation,” she added.
Kotb tried to turn the focus back to the investigation, but Rotering not only dismissed the idea of talking about the warning signs, but she called for discussion of the suspect’s social media to “be diminished.” What’s clear, Rotering argued, was that the deranged individual “had a — a mental breakdown” and “weapons of war” allowed him to escalate his hate.
Once again, Kotb didn’t push back and instead had run out of time. In reaction, co-host Craig Melvin praised her for having offered a “[s]triking — striking commentary...about where we are as a country.”
Prior to the interview, national correspondent Tom Llamas reported from Highland Park that at least some residents feel different than the mayor because “there is a lot of anger here because residents say the shooter was troubled for a long time and the content in those social media videos are more than just red flags,” but instead “announcements of what was to come” and thus “many feeling this one could have been stopped.”
Over on CBS, correspondent Kris Van Cleave alluded to the suspect’s social media profile, reporting that the “aspiring musician” had videos with “disturbing images alluding to gun violence.”
Rotering led off the 8:00 a.m. Eastern hour and again claimed that talking about his social media pages were “glorifying” him and the attack. And thus was why the focus has to be on “weapons of war” that have resulted in “a unique[ly] American issue” of gun violence.
All the while, co-host Nate Burleson could be heard offering interjections of agreement (click “expand”):
ROTERING: We need to have a very real, national conversation about why we're okay with allowing weapons of war on our streets and why we're okay with weekly — having mass shootings. The mayors of Toledo — of Dayton, the mayor of Buffalo, several other mayors have reached out. And none of us think it will happen in their city. And we need to ask why it's becoming a weekly occurrence in our nation.
BURLESON: Mayor, we have an issue with these individuals that are filled with rage in our communities that are committing domestic terrorism. What do you believe needs to be done, given the fact as Gayle mentioned, you — you knew this individual when he was young? But he's not alone.
BURLESON: What do we need to do to reach these kids at a young age so they don't commit these crimes?
ROTERING: I think it's a couple of things. First, I think we obviously need to provide significantly greater resources in terms of mental health care. We've seen those scaled back dramatically in the last few decades. But let's ask the question of why enraged people in other civilized nations in our world are not committing these crimes?
ROTERING: We know that this is a unique American issue —
ROTERING: — and that’s why we need to take necessary steps. I mean, all of these weapons in these mass shootings have been legally obtained. That should tell us that the laws are doing their job. When you have a city coming together to celebrate freedom and independence, you shouldn't have to come fearing for your life. That's not what this nation is about —
ROTERING: — and we need to do something about it.
Tuesday’s sermons downplaying missed warning signs in favor of taking people’s guns away was brought to you by advertisers such as Citi and Nature’s Bounty. Follow the links to see their contact information on the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcripts from July 5, click here (for CBS) and here (for NBC).