Moms Vs. "Powerful" NRA; Why Not Total Gun Ban? SUVs the "Meanest"
1) ABC's Cokie Roberts adopted
the marcher's spin, announcing their "call for sensible gun
legislation." Rosie O'Donnell's reasoning: "I will always
support the Democrats and I love the Democratic agenda about gun control. This
is not about politics."
2) Sunday morning NBC's Soledad
O'Brien repeatedly bemoaned how it's "a bunch of mothers" up
against the "very powerful and well-funded" NRA. She insisted
"the Million Mom Marcher's platform is admittedly moderate,"
asking: "Do you think it's too moderate?"
3) Friday night ABC offered a
balanced presentation on how women feel about gun control, CBS delivered
outright liberal-cause advocacy and NBC landed somewhere in between in
focusing mainly on "three generations" of women attending the
Million Mom March.
4) "GMA at the White House:
Moms & Guns," offered minimal opposition to the pro-gun control line.
Of questions posed or statements made by moms, 20 offered a pro-gun control
point versus just 8 with an anti-gun control point.
5) Bryant Gumbel lamented:
"Why are you only focusing on licensing and registration?...Why aren't
you going for example for a total ban?" Congress won't do anything
about guns, though "we all hope for the best."
6) Bush moved left on guns, but
Today's Katie Couric still hit him from the left: "So you think it's
perfectly alright for people to carry concealed weapons into churches across
7) "In a rare moment of
corporate candor," CBS's Bob Orr trumpeted Friday night, Ford
"admitted...SUVs are gas-guzzling polluters and a threat to people in
smaller cars." Orr dubbed SUVs Ford's "meanest" vehicles.
ABC, CNN and NBC also jumped on the news.
>>> "If It
Isn't Big Government, It's Risky: Media Ridicule Bush's Social Security Reform
Plans, but Gore's Scheme Is Called 'Conservative.'" The May 11 Media
Reality Check is now online. The report by Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's
Free Market Project, begins: "Here's how journalists are aiding the
effort to undermine privatization: first, echo Vice President Al Gore's
'risky scheme' spin; then appear balanced by hitting Gore on his
over-the-top rhetoric; and finally portray Gore's plan to hijack the surplus
to increase benefits as 'conservative.'" To read the rest, go to:
Sunday morning interview shows on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC all balanced
Million Mom March (MMM) advocates with gun rights defenders, though
ABC's Cokie Roberts adopted the spin of the pro-gun control marchers
when she introduced MMM emcee Rosie O'Donnell who soon betrayed the very
political agenda shielded by the image of stroller-pushing moms.
ABC's This Week put
Cokie Roberts on the Mall for its lead interview with O'Donnell. Roberts
set up the segment: "Here on the Mall thousands of women are expected
later this morning to protest gun violence and call for sensible gun
"sensible gun legislation" is not an objective summary but the
exact phrase used by MMM organizers.
O'Donnell about the political agenda behind the march: "You know
there's been a good deal of criticism that this is really a Clinton
White House Democratic Party organized event. Are you basically supporting
the Democrats on this?"
O'Donnell responded by admitting her partisan agenda
while still, with a straight face, trying to maintain the apolitical aura
for the march: "I personally, Rosie O'Donnell, have always been a
Democrat. I will always support the Democrats and I love the Democratic
agenda about gun control. This is not about politics. We didn't ask the
people standing here before us whether or not they're Republican or
Democrat. We asked if they care about the fact four thousand children are
shot dead every year, that 30,000 Americans are killed when a bullet
enters their body...."
Roberts soon exposed any
pretense that the march did not have a political agenda. Referring to
former Democratic Senate staffer and march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases,
Roberts inquired: "Ms. Thomases also said that once the march is over
the gloves come off politically. Is that's what's happening here, that
this is organizing a political event?"
O'Donnell expressed her desire: "Well I hope
that the Million Mom March changes its status from a non-profit to a lobby
organization. I hope hat we can get the passion that is here today and
harness it and have an organization that will be bigger, stronger, and
more powerful than the NRA...."
A few hours later while
on stage during the rally, O'Donnell shouted: "The NRA is buying
votes with blood money!"
Good to see we're all
working to bring people together for the benefit of the children.
morning on Today and MSNBC Soledad O'Brien repeatedly bemoaned how
it's "a bunch of mothers" up against the "very powerful
and well-funded" NRA. During MSNBC's two hours of live Million Mom
March (MMM) coverage from 10am to 12pm ET she also wondered if their
agenda was "too moderate"?
Today live from the White House and the show opened with an interview with
Hillary Clinton. O'Brien's first question: "When we talk about
this issue, on one side you have the NRA, which is obviously a very
powerful and well-funded group, on the other side essentially you're
talking about a bunch of mothers. Realistically speaking, can they ever be
able to yield the same power as a powerful lobby?"
She did later at least
ask Hillary about the claim by the Second Amendment Sisters that guns are
needed by parents to protect kids, and David Bloom talked with Armed
Informed Mothers march organizer Kim Watson, but MMM proponents got a lot
more time. Today ran two taped pieces profiling MMM attendees and
O'Brien conducted an interview with an MMM organizer from Michigan.
C-SPAN broadcast the
entirety of the MMM and counter gun rights rally. Neither CNN or FNC
offered any extended coverage of the MMM, but MSNBC went live with
interviews about it from 10am to noon ET before returning to the usual
Sunday schedule of repeats of re-runs, including approximately the 175th
repeat of the Time & Again about roller coasters.
While MSNBC did mix in a
little bit about the views of those attending the Armed Informed Mothers
rally, the two hours mostly promoted the MMM cause, a point illustrated by
looking at how O'Brien approached two guests: One a celebrity and the
other a politician.
Here are all three of
the questions she posed at 10:14am to singer Melissa Manchester:
-- "Tell me a little bit about what inspired you
to take part in this march."
-- "Do you think that moms, even 150,000 moms, or
even more if the numbers bear that out, are going to be able to have the
same kind of political and frankly financial clout a group like the NRA
are able to have?"
-- "We know that this morning you're performing
a song which you call A Mother's Prayer, and you wrote that song just
after the shootings at Columbine High School. Tell me about what motivated
you to pen that song?"
Three minutes later
Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, sat
down next to O'Brien. Her first question:
"We were speaking with the songwriter Melissa
Manchester about the power that mothers can have. Do you think
realistically when you consider, and you know probably better than most
people, the financial power that the NRA has, 150,000 moms pushing
strollers with their kids. Can they wield the same kind of political
She later queried:
"The Million Mom Marcher's platform is admittedly moderate. Do you
think it's too moderate, that it doesn't go far enough? They will be
the first to say we don't want to come into your home and remove your
guns, we want sensible gun laws."
As for how much
"power" the moms in strollers have up against the big, bad NRA,
at the end of the rally Rosie O'Donnell listed some of the corporate
sponsors of the event: Dannon Yogurt, FileMaker Pro software, IVillage.com,
Monster.com, Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Media, Pax TV and Virgin Atlantic
Airways. They aren't hurting for financial support, but how do you add
up the value of glowing media coverage, something the NRA could never get?
night the three broadcast networks took different approaches to the
Million Mom March -- from balance on ABC to outright liberal-cause
advocacy on CBS, with NBC somewhere in between.
For ABC's World News
Tonight, Michelle Norris traveled to Carroll County, Maryland to pass
along the views of two women: one planning to participate in the Million
Mom March and one planning to attend the Second Amendment Sisters rally.
CBS didn't bother with
such balance. As Dan Rather introduced a May 12 CBS Evening News story:
"Women and their families will push for gun safety in what they call
the Million Mom March. CBS's Thalia Assuras tells us how personal,
preventable tragedy drove one mother into joining up."
Assuras profiled a New
York City family which lost an 11-year-old when a "next-door neighbor
and friend pulled the trigger of an illegal handgun found in the
house." Assuras elaborated: The incident compelled Cathy Murphy to
take action, and brought her out of her back yard to the front lines of
gun control advocacy. She helped push through New York City's
Christopher's Law; buy a gun, buy a safety lock at the same time. And this
weekend, she'll be marching in the Million Mom March."
Cathy Murphy: "I didn't want anybody to feel the
pain that we feel every day."
Assuras missed an opportunity to spell out the
political activist past of the march organizer: "Donna Dees-Thomases
has heard Cathy Murphy's story and countless others like it. Last year's
day-care center shooting in California drove her to organize the
Donna Dees-Thomases, founder, Million Mom March:
"Look what the Mothers Against Drunk Driving did. They banned the
irresponsible use of alcohol. That's all. We're trying to do the same
thing with guns."
Next, Rather asked Bob
Schieffer to explain why the NRA wins too often: "However many
mothers and families march for gun control on Sunday, few expect the sheer
weight of their numbers to change many minds, or votes, in the Congress.
Let's get the real deal on why now from CBS News chief Washington
correspondent Bob Schieffer."
Schieffer's analysis, in full: "Dan, this moms'
march is going to bring enormous pressure on Congress, but to understand
why it will be so hard to change the gun laws and just how fierce the
pro-gun forces can be, listen to this. Longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch,
the Chairman of the Conference Committee, where some modest gun control
measures are currently buried, is about as conservative as they get, and
has sided with the gun people for as long as I can remember. Yet Hatch was
booed at Utah's Republican Convention last weekend, and gun forces came
within a few votes of denying him the party's endorsement as its Senate
candidate because they felt Hatch, a four-term Senator who has never even
had a primary opponent, had somehow gone soft on guns. That little bit of
reality tells you why Hatch is reluctant to even let Congress vote on the
gun measures, and why it will be so hard to turn this Congress around on
Gee, you'd think a
real reporter would tell viewers what Hatch has done to upset gun rights
supporters instead of passing along banal generalities.
Evening News featured an admiring look at three women from Dunblane,
Scotland, who successfully lobbied for a ban on handguns in Britain after
a school shooting there.)
Friday's NBC Nightly
News dedicated the In Depth segment to "three generations" in a
family attending the Million Mom March. Tom Brokaw set up the story:
"The Million Mom March on Mother's Day, a national protest against
gun violence. This grassroots movement has been spurred on by a rash of
shootings involving children. The most recent figures show that in one
year more than 32,000 people were killed by guns, more than 4,000 of them
children. But will any of this make any difference?"
Lisa Myers started her
piece: "Three generations, one family. Today Tanya Days, her mother
and daughter prepare for their first march ever on Sunday. They'll wear
this tribute [button with picture] to Tanya's brother, BJ, accidentally
killed at age 15 by another teenager with a handgun....The three women
among a 150,000 demonstrators expected here, thousands more at at least 60
rallies across the country. Many are political newcomers, propelled by
personal tragedy, fear or frustration. They cite a sobering statistic, 12
children a day killed by gun violence. Their solution? Mandatory gun
safety locks, registration of handguns, licensing of gun owners. Donna
Dees-Thomases, a mom and television publicist, dreams up the march after
this scene at a Jewish day care center hit too close to home."
Donna Dees-Thomases: "And I'm not opposed to
anybody who needs, eel they need a handgun for protection, but they just
should be willing to submit to a safety course, a background check, a
fingerprint and a photo ID."
For a reality check on
Thomases's real background as a Democratic Senate staffer and Hillary
campaign donor, go to:
As for NBC's
insistence, along with the other networks, of repeating the 12
"children" per day and 4,000 a year killed by guns numbers, as
noted in the April 17 CyberAlert the NRA discredited a similar numerical
claim: "To reach the fraudulent '13 children' figure (alternately
and even more dishonestly expressed by some 'gun control' advocates as
'5,000 per year' or 'one every 90 seconds'), the President and
those with the same agenda count anyone under the age of 20 as a
'child.' The reason is simple: There are relatively few
firearm-related deaths among children, but a much greater number among
juveniles and young adults ages 15-19. Add both age groups together, call
that total 'children,' and the number of deaths among 'children'
is dishonestly increased 569%...."
To read this NRA report, go to:
Back to the Myers story,
she at least broached the political issue: "The march also under fire
because what began as a non-partisan grassroots movement is now closely
associated with the Clinton White House. The President appears with
marchers today and goads Republicans in Congress who oppose many gun
After noting how George
Bush announced a safety lock giveaway program and that "the National
Rifle Association challenges the moms to match the NRA's pledge of $ 1
million to teach gun safety in schools," Myers gave a few seconds to
a woman not enamored by the Million Mom March: "Gun owner Sherry
LeGate (sp?) will participate in a counter march on Sunday. The message?
Gun safety, yes. Gun control, no."
LeGate: "Licensing and registration is not going
to stop what's happening right now."
Good Morning America delivered the Million Mom March organizers and
President Clinton an early Mother's Day gift on Friday with two hours
live from the White House. "GMA at the White House: Moms &
Guns," offered minimal opposition to the pro-gun control party line.
Of 28 questions posed or statements made by the mothers, and one kid, to
President Clinton and amongst themselves after Clinton left, by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson's count, 20 made a pro-gun control point versus
just 8 with an anti-gun control point, for a ratio greater than 2-to-1.
The May 12 show opened
with co-host Charles Gibson interviewing President Clinton in the Oval
Office. His first question: "It was a year ago, Mr. President, that
we were here with you with the students talking about gun violence, and
you talked to me then about the hopes that you had for new gun control
legislation. It hasn't happened. What went wrong?"
Gibson bemoaned the lack of progress: "I've got
here a pile of all the gun legislation that's been proposed in the past
year since we were here before. None of it has passed. By my count, we
have more states rejecting new gun control legislation than have passed
it. We have 15 states that have passed prohibitions on cities suing gun
manufacturers. That hardly seems like progress."
Gibson did challenge
Clinton directly at one point: "Don't you, to some extent, make the
NRA's case when you say that, though? You know, they say enforce existing
laws. We're not doing enough of enforcing existing laws, and yet you've
got murder down 25 percent since '93, gun crime down 35 percent since '92,
violent crime overall down 27 percent. That's done with a good economy,
better policing, and not necessarily such stronger gun controls
At about 7:15am the show
moved to the Roosevelt Room where Clinton heard ten pro-gun control versus
four anti-gun control comments, including a heated exchange with the
NRA's Susan Howard. The segment began with a demand from Linda Halpin,
who didn't seem to appreciate how politics works and illustrated how
many of the moms put emotion ahead of rational policy discussion:
"My son was killed last Mother's Day. He was shot
in the head and, of course, was pronounced brain dead. When he lie in the
hospital room, I promised him I would do something about it. So I'll speak
on behalf of my son Lewis. Mr. President, it's been so long that so many
of these laws are being held up, and I understand that they're being held
up in Congress. I understand that they've been sitting there and in my
heart, I feel that if something had been done, maybe a year ago today my
son may have been alive. I need to know from you, Mr. President, I need to
know and I need an answer today, what are you gonna do about this in your
remaining days in office? I don't want to know what has been done or what
could be done. I want to know what you're going to do for my son
Early Show on Friday didn't bother with any views contrary to the
Million Mom March line. Co-host Bryant Gumbel, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brian Boyd, asserted: "In Washington, DC this Sunday
thousands of women are expected to converge on Washington for what's being
called the Million Mom March and to call for sensible gun control. Just
around nine months ago it was the story of an attack on children in LA in
August of '99 that spurred Donna Dees-Thomases into action. The shooting
of two adults and three children at a Jewish community center shook her
enough to try to do something."
Up first from the Mall,
Gumbel talked via satellite to Gail Powers, whose son, Nathan,
"witnessed that shooting at the LA community center." He tossed
a series of softballs to the march's California coordinator: "I'm
told you were never an activist before, what spurred you to action this
time?" And: "Those who will be marching on Sunday, who are they?
I mean besides being mothers, what do they have in common, what's the
unifying theme here?"
After Powers explained
how they want licensing and registration, Gumbel scolded her: "Why
are you only focusing on licensing and registration, why aren't you going
for more than that, why aren't you going, for example, for a total
Next, Gumbel interviewed
a woman whose daughter was killed in the Dunblane, Scotland shooting. He
wanted to know: "Following the tragedy in your country, you were able
to get a total ban on all handguns. How'd you do it?"
Going back to Powers,
Gumbel announced his "hope" for what will happen: "Ms.
Powers, this Congress has so far seemed somewhat unwilling to do anything
about guns. Realistically, realistically, I mean we all hope for the best,
but realistically, do you think Sunday's march is going to make a
presidential candidate George W. Bush moved left Friday hen he announced
that as Governor of Texas he would push to provide state-paid gun locks
for "free" to anyone in Texas who wants one. In one decision he
moved away from conservatism in two ways -- adopting a gun control
group's assumptions about trigger locks while simultaneously creating
another government giveaway program for an item people can easily buy for
themselves, but instead of hitting Bush from the right on guns, Friday
morning Today's Katie Couric still pressed him from the left.
After asking about how
the giveaway program would work and how it would be paid for, Couric
challenged Bush's gun record: "The goal of this march, meanwhile,
is to focus the public's attention on what's being called common sense gun
control measures. You signed an amendment in 1997 which allowed licensed
gun owners to carry concealed handguns into churches and even amusement
parks unless posted otherwise. Isn't this exactly the kind of thing that
these moms are marching against?"
Bush maintained Texas is safer for the concealed carry
law, prompting Couric to retort: "So you think it's perfectly alright
for people to carry concealed weapons into churches across the
Bush explained how that provision was added at the
request of preachers who wanted to carry a gun inside their homes on
the networks Friday night enthusiastically jumped on the Ford Motor
Company statement that SUVs pose a danger to those in smaller cars and
pollute too much. CBS's Bob Orr concluded by calling SUVs "its
meanest but most popular vehicles." CBS followed up with a second
story on the same subject on Saturday night. The Friday night stories on
ABC, CBS and NBC all followed the same formula: Lay out what Ford said
without challenge and feature a comment from Dan Becker of the Sierra
Club. NBC's Robert Hager had two liberals argue over the motivation
behind Ford's announcement.
-- ABC anchor Peter
Jennings introduced the May 12 World News Tonight story: "The Ford
Motor Company has made a surprising admission about the vehicles that make
the company so much money. It says that sport utility vehicles cause
serious safety problems and are environmentally unfriendly. In and of
itself, the information is not a great revelation. It's that the company
said so. And publicly."
Barry Serafin began his
story: "As sports utility vehicles have soared in popularity, it has
not been surprising to hear the government and environmentalists warn that
they are gas guzzlers, that they pollute more than cars, and that they are
dangerous. SUV's are three times as likely as cars to kill the other
driver in a crash. And the death rate for occupants of an SUV is just as
high as cars. But what was surprising was to hear the same concerns
expressed by Ford, since sport utility vehicles account for most of its
profits. The admissions came in a corporate report issued at the company's
shareholders meeting. The report even quoted the Sierra Club declaring,
'the gas-guzzling SUV is a rolling monument to environmental
-- Setting up Bob
Orr's CBS Evening News piece, Dan Rather announced: "The huge, and
hugely popular, sport utility vehicle so common on US highways, the SUVs,
are also popular targets for critics. They waste fuel, pollute the air;
they're just too big. So say the critics. Now the Ford Motor Company,
which makes tons of money selling SUVs, says it's all true."
Orr asserted: "In a
rare moment of corporate candor, Ford Motor Company admitted what industry
critics and consumers have long known: sport utility vehicles, SUVs, are
gas-guzzling polluters and a threat to people in smaller cars." Orr
soon relayed: "After Ford's concession, environmentalists now want
Orr concluded by urging
Ford to take a particular course of action: "Safety improvements will
also be a challenge. Cars are no match for larger, heavier sport utility
vehicles. For the moment, Ford has scored a public relations coup, winning
praise from some of its harshest critics, but now the automaker has to
follow through on a vague promise to make its meanest but most popular
-- On the NBC Nightly
News Tom Brokaw declared: "In Detroit, a surprise admission tonight
from the Ford Motor Company about sports utility vehicles, SUVs. Every
year fully one fifth of all passenger vehicles now sold in this country
are SUVs. Ford is now conceding there are real problems with its most
Reporter Robert Hager
offered two competing explanations for Ford's statement, both from
left-wing groups: "Why would Ford call attention to these problems?
Or the oil company BP Amoco admit, two years ago, its products pollute. Or
Shell commit to work for human rights abroad? A corporate group called
Business for Social Responsibility says it's enlightened company
Rebecca Calahan Klein, Business for Social
Responsibility: "They are looking more broadly at their entire social
responsibility and how it gets reflected in their daily decision
Hager: "But some others note that despite the
popularity of SUVs, three million sold last year, sales have leveled off
while the criticism's grown. And auto safety advocate Clarence Ditlow
attributes a darker motive."
Clarence Ditlow: "The gun industry has been sued.
The tobacco industry has been sued. Sport utility vehicles are next, and
what they're trying to do is to say we're corporate citizens and we're
going to get ahead of the lawsuits."
It's a battle in the
media for which product they consider most worthy of scorn: gun or SUVs. -- Brent Baker
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