Media Consider Cultural Culpability; NRA's "Cruel Reminder"
1) If Cassie Bernall and
friends "had been walking through that school carrying Bibles and
saying 'Hail the Prince of Peace, King of Kings,'" they
would've been chastised, suggested Bill Bennett.
2) Except Face the Nation, the
broadcast network Sunday shows gave more time to holding the culture than
the gun industry culpable. Bob Schieffer castigated Dan Quayle: "No
offense Mr. Quayle, but this ought to be an excuse" to enact new gun
3) CBS News: A NRA
"billboard is a cruel reminder for those still grieving over the
events in Littleton that next week the NRA is coming to Denver," even
though the mayor asked them "to go away."
4) The media focus on the
"gun lobby," but NBC's Tim Russert asked Tipper Gore about the
"entertainment lobby" which backs her husband.
5) "No less a public
pulse-taker than Rosie O'Donnell is calling for a near-total ban on guns,
England-style," Time enthused.
6) "That is
irrational," Al Hunt said of how more trust George W. Bush than Al
Gore as commander-in-chief. The same NBC poll found Clinton's approval
plummeting, but NBC didn't report it.
7) Oops. AP: "President
Clinton departed the NATO summit in such haste Saturday that he left
behind perhaps the most important piece of luggage in the world -- the
Best quote from the Sunday talk shows. Bill Bennett on NBC's Meet the
"If these kids were walking around that
school in black trench coats, saying Heil Hitler, why didn't somebody
pay attention? I guarantee you if little Cassie Bernall, the little girl
who was asked 'do you believe in God' and she said yes and then was
blown away, if she and her friends had been walking through that school
carrying Bibles and saying 'Hail the Prince of Peace, King of Kings,'
they would have been hauled into the principal's office."
Are media opinion leaders moving beyond the standard blaming of too many
guns, willing to give credibility to the cultural critique forwarded by
social conservatives? Holding the entertainment and computer game
industries accountable for their violent lyrics and games received more
time on some weekend interview and news shows than calls for more gun
control, though there were notable exceptions. And two Washington
journalists who can be counted on to relay the usual liberal line actually
gave violent lyrics and games equal culpability as guns.
-- More time for
examining cultural influences than blaming guns. Meet the Press host Tim
Russert interview Tipper Gore about the influence of the entertainment
industry, as did ABC's Cokie Roberts on This Week, but neither show
devoted a segment to guns. (See item #4 below for a noteworthy question
and phrase issued by Russert.) Meet the Press also featured a roundtable
looking at the culture with Pat Buchanan, Senator Joe Lieberman, Bill
Bennett and James Garbarino, the author of the book Lost Boys. William
Bennett also appeared along with Alvin Poussaint on Fox News Sunday. 60
Minutes led Sunday night with an examination of the issues behind the
lawsuit against some film and video game companies by parents in Paducah,
Kentucky, focusing on the contention by retired Lt. Colonel David Grossman
that video games like Doom are "murder simulators."
-- Giving equal
weight to cultural influences and bad parents as blaming guns. On Inside
Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas lashed out at
the "creepy" Internet but also referred to the
"The answer is it's all of the above.
It's obviously, it's the availability of firepower, it's the creepy
Internet where you can learn how to make bombs easily, it's the absent
parents, the soulless America. You can go down the checklist."
Over on CNN's
Capital Gang, National Review's Kate O'Beirne suggested: "Rather
than an excess of firearms there's a shortage of faith and family that
has a lot more to do with what happened out in Littleton. Let's face it,
our public square is more hostile to religion than it is to Marilyn
Instead of shooting her down as a religious right
fanatic, the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt agreed she had a point in
putting her concerns into his list which did include guns:
"If we passed the kind of gun control laws
I'd like to see, there'd still be these tragedies. If we got rid of
all those violent movies and CDs, there'd still be these kinds of
tragedies and if we had families accept more responsibilities they'd
still exist, but if we did all three of those there would be fewer of them
and the government can play a very important role here."
-- Liberal ant-gun
mantra. Some liberals in the media are unable to move beyond their
kneejerk response that more gun control is the answer. On Capital Gang
Time magazine's Margaret Carlson asserted:
"The Republicans want to get government off
our backs, but into the soul business. They want government into our
souls, which I don't think is the answer. Gary Bauer, for instance, in
announcing his candidate said that if they'd, if somebody told them --
if they had prayer in school or were told God loved them -- they would be,
this wouldn't have happened. This wouldn't have happened without the
Tech-9 semi-automatic pistol, it wouldn't have been quite as brutal. I
can take care of my daughter's soul. What I can't take care of is
whether her friends have guns or not."
correctly noted that shotguns were available 100 years ago but students
didn't use them to kill their classmates.
CBS's Face the
Nation devoted its entire show to the Colorado shooting, the only Sunday
interview show to do so, and pressed all its guests about guns before host
Bob Schieffer ended by taking a shot at Dan Quayle for opposing further
Governor Bill Owens, Schieffer demanded: "Governor, have you changed
your mind now about gun control laws? I know you favored the concealed
weapons law that was being debated out there, did you not?"
Gloria Borger quizzed Wayne LaPierre of the NRA about whether he favors
allowing teachers to "carry heat" and why he isn't for holding
adults criminally responsible for their kids before they turned to Deputy
Attorney General Eric Holder. He got nicer treatment as Borger kindly set
him up: "Do you think tougher gun laws could have prevented
Ending the show,
Schieffer made clear that he thinks more gun control is the answer. After
recalling some school shooting incidents, Schieffer argued:
"The excuses are always different, but one
thing remains constant: People who had no business with guns somehow found
them. The gun lobby assures us that stricter gun laws would not have
prevented them and maybe they're right. But I know one thing. If the
kids who walked into that high school had been armed with baseball bats or
even knives, instead of guns, most of the children who died last week
would still be alive. The bodies had not yet been removed when
presidential candidate Dan Quayle, among others, told Chris Matthews, 'I
hope we won't use this as an excuse to go and take away guns.' No
offense Mr. Quayle, but this ought to be an excuse, an excuse to get to
the bottom of things like this and see that they never happen again."
The evil NRA provides a "cruel reminder" of the shooting to the
Littleton community, CBS News reporter Sandra Hughes claimed Friday night.
As noted the April 23 CyberAlert, through Thursday night CBS had avoided
the gun control debate unlike NBC which got to it the first night and ABC
two nights later, both with a pro-gun control slant. But Friday night,
April 23, CBS delivered its own loaded hit on the NRA.
anchor John Roberts asserted that the Littleton shooting "reignited
gun control as a national issue." Over video of a NRA billboard
advertising its national convention in Denver, which showed Charlton
Heston holding a rifle with "Join Me" superimposed over him and
the words "World Class Guns & Gear Expo" next to him, Hughes
"This National Rifle Association billboard
is a cruel reminder for those still grieving over the events in Littleton
that next week the NRA is coming to Denver, even though Mayor Wellington
Webb asked the NRA to go away."
Webb: "This is a time for mourning and
Hughes: "It will only scale back its planned
three-day conference to a one day meeting. NRA President Charlton Heston
refused our request for an interview. A spokesman told CBS News, the NRA
quote 'wants the community to bury their children' before it will
discuss gun control. The Littleton massacre has galvanized the anti-gun
movement across the country. Here in California legislators are trying to
put a limit on the number of guns that can be bought at any one
Wally Knox, CA Assemblyman: "How is it
possible in our society that we have a culture of death that can lead
people to these acts?"
Hughes: "The California Assembly last night
passed a measure aimed at what's called straw gun purchases in which one
buyer legally buys several guns at one time and sells them on the black
market for a profit, sometimes doubling the price. Often those buying the
guns are juveniles. In Los Angeles police found that up to 30 percent of
guns used in crimes came from these kinds of purchases."
Hughes allowed a gun store owner to say the gun
laws are not about crime control but people control. She then concluded:
"Even in many conservative states pro-gun
legislation is being tabled and in Colorado two bills long supported by
the gun lobby were shut down days before becoming law."
Gun lobby, gun lobby, gun lobby is the media mantra. But NBC's Tim
Russert noted on Sunday that there's also an "entertainment
lobby" which backs Democrats. Interviewing Tipper Gore for the April
25 Meet the Press, Russert queried:
"As you know, the entertainment lobby is
very strong in this country. Viacom, which owns MTV, Warner Brothers which
distributes Natural Born Killers which glorifies 52 killings in three
weeks -- Big political donors to your husband's campaign and to a lot of
campaigns. How do you get to those executives and say 'stop
"No less a public pulse-taker than Rosie O'Donnell is calling for a
near-total ban on guns," an apparently serious Time Daily declared of
O'Donnell's representativeness in an article claiming the winners in
this tragedy are gun control advocates.
In a piece posted on the Time Web site over the
weekend, Frank Pellegrini maintained:
LITTLETON: The breakdown of families,
alienation at school, Goth culture, violent TV, film and video games, and
rock music -- they've all been named as accomplices in the Littleton
massacre. Some guilty verdicts have been passed out: An upcoming Marilyn
Manson concert has been canceled, and MGM has pulled the film
"Basketball Diaries" off of video store shelves because one
fantasy scene has a trench-coated Leo DiCaprio spraying his school with
bullets. But at week's end, there was a clear leader in the scapegoat
"If there was a winner in this week's
mayhem, it's gun control advocates," says TIME Denver bureau chief
Richard Woodbury. From Colorado to Washington, long-dead legislation is
back on the table, single-issue pol Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is back on TV
again, and no less a public pulse-taker than Rosie O'Donnell is calling
for a near-total ban on guns, England-style. Will Littleton be our
Dunblane? The logic is clear enough: Guns may not kill people, but neither
do disaffected teens -- until they get a hold of some guns. Keep guns away
from those teens, and they can't shoot anyone. But they can still blow
plenty of people up with homemade pipe bombs.
END Time Daily
"Irrational" to trust George W. Bush ahead of Al Gore as
commander-in-chief? Referring to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, on
Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN Al Hunt lamented to Mark Shields:
"We did a survey this week that asked who do
you trust as commander-in-chief. 21 percent said they trust Al Gore as
commander-in-chief, 43 percent said they trust George W. Bush. That is
irrational Mark, but it's real."
Speaking of this
NBC News poll, it found Clinton has his lowest approval level, at 58
percent, since the fall of 1997 -- way back before the Lewinsky scandal
broke. But while the networks highlighted any poll during the scandal
months which showed Clinton with high approval, NBC News has managed to
avoid reporting this one. Not a word about it on Thursday or Friday on
Nightly News or Today, observed MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens.
"Washington Wire" column in the April 23 Wall Street Journal
relayed three poll findings:
-- Clinton's approval rating is at 58
percent and his disapproval sits at 38 percent.
-- "The 50 percent of Americans who
back him on foreign policy is down 10 percentage points from last
-- "The public now favors Republicans
over Democrats on handling foreign policy; by 34 percent to 19 percent, up
from a gap of only five percentage points last month."
The current commander-in-chief in action, losing the "nuclear
football." That's right, Clinton left his top military aide behind
on Saturday as he took off for the White House. So reported a brief AP
dispatch played on the front page of Sunday's Washington Times, but not
mentioned in any of the network newscasts I saw over the weekend. Here's
the AP story, transmitted early Saturday night, in full:
Nuclear Launch Codes Left Behind
WASHINGTON (AP) President Clinton departed
the NATO summit in such haste Saturday that he left behind perhaps the
most important piece of luggage in the world -- the "nuclear
The President's military aide, who
constantly shadows Clinton and carries the briefcase containing U.S.
nuclear launch codes, was mistakenly left at the International Trade
Center when Clinton's motorcade sped off 45 minutes early and without
The aide walked the 41/2 blocks back to the
White House without incident. "We're safe," said White House
press secretary Joe Lockhart. He said Clinton left so quickly because his
last summit meeting of the day broke up early and "rather than wait
for everyone to gather, he just took off."
The pool of reporters that always travels
with Clinton also was left behind.
END Story Reprint
And Al Hunt finds
it "irrational" that the public would better trust as
commander-in-chief someone outside of this Keystone Cops team. --
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