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"News" Media Trying To Wag The Dog On Gun Control

Friday, April 17, 2009

President Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Attorney General Eric Holder are downplaying gun control, at least for the time being. But the so-called "news" media have begun hammering away on guns with the same intensity they did in the early 1990s, when the outcomes of the Brady bill and "assault weapons" debates were still undecided. 

You have to wonder why the media think they, and not the public, know best what direction the country should take. Annual polls show that Americans' confidence in newspapers and television news has decreased to a mere 24 percent. During the last few years of President George W. Bush's administration, the media sanctimoniously and incessantly reminded us that the president's approval ratings were near the lowest in history, yet in every single year of the Bush administration, Americans' confidence in the president exceeded their confidence in the media. Even with the nation's recent economic problems, largely blamed on big banks, Americans have more confidence in banks than in the media. 

Yet, in their supreme arrogance, many in the media still believe the American people cannot function, that society and perhaps civilization itself will collapse, without the moral and intellectual guidance of those who, having been to journalism school, are the world's leading experts on all subjects under the sun, including gun control. 

It must be strange on their planet. 

For example, take ABC "20/20's" recent attempt to convince us that neither good private citizens nor police officers are able to use guns effectively for protection, but somehow criminals are. At the end of her not-as-clever-as-she-thought hatchet job on guns, Diane Sawyer ever-so-smugly added, "by the way, if you're wondering where are all those studies about the effectiveness of guns used by ordinary Americans for self-defense, well, we couldn't find one reliable study." 

As if they even bothered to look.  

The landmark study by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, showing hundreds of thousands of successful defensive gun uses annually, was reliable enough to be endorsed by the leading anti-gun criminologist of the day, the late Marvin Wolfgang. And, as economist John Lott noted in a Fox News rebuttal to "20/20's" pablum on Wednesday, "There have been 26 peer-reviewed studies published by criminologists and economists in academic journals and university presses. Most of these studies find large drops in crime [under Right-to-Carry laws]. Some find no change, but not a single one shows an increase in crime." 

Lott could have mentioned, but modestly did not, that his own comprehensive study of Right-to-Carry has survived a cacophony of half-baked attacks by the usual suspects. And whatever the results of Diane Sawyer's contrived and anything-but-reliable classroom experiment, designed to "prove" ABC's cockamamie theories about self-defense, every day in this country private citizens defend themselves and their families with guns. 

Then there's the delirious commentary of Dan Rodericks in the March 12 Baltimore Sun. He writes, "After the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and again after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, many of us believed the country would turn against guns - assault-style weapons and handguns in particular." 

"Assault-style weapons?" What do they have to do with those crimes? The "assault weapon" issue did not even exist until several years after the attempt on President Reagan, which involved a small-caliber revolver. 

And why is Americans' support for gun control lower than it has been in ages? Rodericks is sure he has the answer. According to Rodericks, Americans oppose gun control not because they believe in freedom and self-protection, and not because they know criminals don't obey gun laws, but because "There's a pessimism and cynicism about the kind of society we've become and the uncertain future we face. . . . It's an epidemic of resignation." Translation: "I've been to journalism school, and I'm exasperated by the fact that the vast majority of Americans still don't agree with me." It brings to mind the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, in 1994, characterizing voters as "angry two-year-old(s)" throwing a "temper tantrum" by voting Republicans into control of Congress, against Jennings' wishes, of course. 

More drivel comes from the pen of that most superficial and trite of opinion spouters, PBS' Mark Shields. On Sunday, Shields wrote that Congress doesn't impose more gun control because its members "lack . . . . backbone." Congress, says Shields, allowed the "assault weapon" ban to expire because congressmen are in need of a "a vertebrae transplant." Oh, how we would like to see Shields say that straight to the face of Rep. John Dingell, Sen. Max Baucus, or scores of others on Capitol Hill, who have forgotten more about the issue than Shields will ever know. 

Of course, no modern media blitzkrieg against guns would be complete without Michael Isikoff, during the 1990s the Washington Post's hit man on "assault weapons" and now performing the same function at Newsweek. In the April 20 issue of that magazine, Isikoff wrote about Mexico's drug cartels being armed with "high-powered assault weapons" from the United States, when it has already been established that most of the cartels' weapons are not "assault weapons," and only a minority have been traced to the United States. But what can you expect from a "reporter" whose "in-depth" research consists of skimming the Brady Campaign's latest press release? 

Thanks to Isikoff on two things, however. If there were any doubt about the Obama Administration's eventual gun control plans, Isikoff says that Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), author of bills in earlier congresses to drastically expand the former "assault weapon" ban, "pressed Obama transition officials to take up the issue" but they told her "that's not for now, that's for later." (Emphasis added.) 

And Isikoff quotes Brady Campaign's Peter Hamm as saying "When you see people like Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton or Rahm Emanuel become muted on this issue, you feel like you want to call up a friend and say, 'What's up?'" (Emphasis added, again.) 

Writing for the largest newspaper in America's largest city, and hopelessly out of touch with America west of the Lincoln Tunnel, the New York Times' Bob Herbert on Tuesday expressed skepticism about Right-to-Carry, particularly on college campuses (because, as John Lott has noted, legislation to allow carrying on campuses is making progress in some states). But, unable to come to grips with the fact that people really do use guns to protect themselves successfully every day, Herbert defaulted to whining that America is "a society that is neither mature nor civilized enough to do anything" about the criminal use of guns. 

And a Washington Post editorial the same day, dedicated to portraying the Virginia Tech murders as justification for gun show legislation in Virginiaeven though no gun involved in the murders came from a gun showwent on to claim that "None of the gunmen [in recent multiple victim shootings] could have done as much damage had he [sic] not had access to guns." Apparently the Post's editorial staffers have been too busy typing up opinions to read the paper's news section; otherwise, they would know that the worst mass murders in American history have been committed with jet airliners, explosives and flames, not with firearms. 

Whether the media will be able to prod the most powerful elected officials in the country into attacking the Second Amendment remains to be seen. But, in the meantime, is it any wonder that the American people hold the media in such low regard?
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