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Old Habits Die Hard at NBC

Friday, April 13, 2012

Only two weeks ago, NBC was caught having deceptively edited a 911 tape from the controversial Zimmerman/Martin shooting in Florida.  This week, NBC accused Remington Arms Company of manufacturing unsafe firearms—specifically its immensely popular Model 870 and Model 1100 shotguns. Gun owners will also remember the hatchet job that NBC did on the Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle in 2010.

Remington and the National Shooting Sports Foundation have already set the record straight on the substance of NBC’s current accusation, so for the moment we will address the purely political issues involved, and NBC’s history of dishonest reporting to push its political agenda.

NBC coupled its accusation against the two models of shotguns with a call for all firearms to be subject to the oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, something straight out of the Brady Campaign’s playbook for the last 30-odd years. Gun prohibition activists have always wanted the commission to have the power to declare all firearms inherently too unsafe to be legal for sale. The Brady outfit even called for consumer products regulations on firearms in the gun control proposals it made to President Obama in 2008.

Now, on to some examples from NBC’s history of playing loose with the facts.

In 1992, NBC was caught detonating rigged explosives in GM pickup trucks, for a Dateline NBC piece purporting to show that the trucks would explode in crashes. NBC News’ president, Michael Gartner, who earlier in the year had said, “There is no reason for anyone in this country, except a police officer or a military person, to buy, to own, to have, to use a handgun. . . .[T]he only way to control handgun use in this country is to prohibit the guns. And the only way to do that is to change the Constitution,” was forced to resign after the pickup truck hoax, but insisted that during his tenure with NBC, its news reporting had been “first-rate, fair, clear, thorough and accurate.”

On Nov. 17, 1993, just before the Senate voted for the federal “assault weapon” ban, NBC’s Today show tried to encourage the legislation’s passage with a story that showed fully-automatic machine guns being fired. Criticized for its error, NBC admitted in writing that it had made a “mistake,” but it ran more machine gun footage in another “assault weapon” story two weeks later, and again in April 1994, just before the House of Representatives voted on the proposed ban.

In 2009, NBC-5 Chicago reporter Kim Vatis teamed up with gun control supporter Andrew Traver, the Special Agent in Charge of BATFE's Chicago office, nominated by President Obama to be promoted to the agency's director, to deceive TV viewers about the kinds of guns that were affected by the federal “assault weapon” ban. After Vatis claimed that semi-automatic “assault weapons” are “made for the war zone,” she and Travers took turns firing a machine gun, with Vatis appearing to deliberately wave the gun back and forth as she fires wildly.

Relevant video clips of NBC’s machine gun stories are available on NRA’s GunBanFacts.com website here.

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