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The 2,677th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
8:15am EDT, Friday June 27, 2008 (Vol. Thirteen; No. 122)

 
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1. ABC's Roberts Ignores Radicalism of 'Maverick Priest' Pfleger
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts treated Father Michael Pfleger to a fawning "exclusive" interview on Thursday in which she mostly ignored his radical comments and lauded the "maverick priest," describing him as "not someone to be silenced." Although a previous segment featured a single clip of Pfleger's sermon at the former church of Barack Obama where he viciously attacked Senator Hillary Clinton, Roberts ignored other, more inflammatory remarks by the priest, such as his assertion, made on the same day as the Clinton attack, that "America has been raping people of color and America has to pay the price for the rape!" Of course, Roberts didn't mention this quote. Instead, she spun Pfleger as someone who is "passionate about the Word" and lauded the anti-crime and poverty work he's done. At one point, Roberts affectionately stated that "despite being knocked down," the Chicago priest will continue to wrestle with real problems. Seeming to admire his defiance, the journalist also extolled: "But you also said [in a recent sermon] that you are -- you're not someone to be silenced."

2. Crime High Despite Gun Ban, Ruling Makes Cities 'More Dangerous'
As the Thursday broadcast evening newscasts reported on the Supreme Court ruling against D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership, ABC and CBS both relayed to viewers that D.C. has a high crime rate at the same time handguns are illegal. CBS's Katie Couric to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty: "I was surprised to hear from Wyatt Andrews that this ban has been in effect for 32 years....If that's the case, why has the District remained one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities in the country with this ban in effect?" ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg: "It's been called the nation's murder capital, Washington, D.C., even though handguns were strictly banned." But CBS also ran a report by Bill Whitaker that focused on the complaints of gun control advocates, and seemed oblivious to links between gun control and high crime, even as he admitted Chicago has had a gun ban for 25 years, but still has 325 murders a year as he instead seemed to fret crime would get worse without the city's gun ban: "Chicago, which passed a gun ban similar to D.C.'s 25 years ago, had 325 gun homicides last year -- a 10-year-old shot in the head, a pregnant woman gunned down, a college student shot and killed. Mayor Daley said the Court's decision will make his mean streets even more dangerous." On ABC there was more emphasis on the closeness of the vote as substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos referred to the "closely-divided Court" and the "narrow decision."

3. CNN: SCOTUS 'Kills' DC Handgun Ban, Slants Toward Gun Victim
In anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of DC handgun ban on Thursday, CNN's Newsroom program ran a report on both the sides of the gun case, in which the pro-gun control advocate was given twice the amount of air time as the gun rights advocate. The report, by CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena, ran twice within 20 minutes; first, at the top of the 10 am hour of Newsroom, minutes before the decision was released, and then immediately after the news of the decision broke. In addition to this, when the 5-4 decision upholding the lower court's finding that the ban was unconstitutional, the Newsroom program initially ran a graphic that read, "Supreme Ct. Kills Handgun Ban: Overrules DC Law." The graphic ran for just under a minute until being replaced by another that read, "Supreme Ct. Overrules Gun Ban: Overrules DC Law Forbidding Handguns." Just over an hour after the Supreme Court's ruling came down, near the bottom half of the 11 am Eastern hour of Newsroom, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, when asked about the local impact of the decision, snarked that "the communities that care about safety and communities that don't want the bad effects of guns will try to rewrite their regulations in line with what they think the Court decided."

4. Letterman's 'Top Ten Ways Kim Jong-Il Can Improve His Image'
Letterman's "Top Ten Ways Kim Jong-Il Can Improve His Image."


 

ABC's Roberts Ignores Radicalism of 'Maverick
Priest' Pfleger

     Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts treated Father Michael Pfleger to a fawning "exclusive" interview on Thursday in which she mostly ignored his radical comments and lauded the "maverick priest," describing him as "not someone to be silenced."

     Although a previous segment featured a single clip of Pfleger's sermon at the former church of Barack Obama where he viciously attacked Senator Hillary Clinton, Roberts ignored other, more inflammatory remarks by the priest, such as his assertion, made on the same day as the Clinton attack, that "America has been raping people of color and America has to pay the price for the rape!" Of course, Roberts didn't mention this quote. Instead, she spun Pfleger as someone who is "passionate about the Word" and lauded the anti-crime and poverty work he's done.

     [This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     At one point, Roberts affectionately stated that "despite being knocked down," the Chicago priest will continue to wrestle with real problems. Seeming to admire his defiance, the journalist also extolled: "But you also said [in a recent sermon] that you are -- you're not someone to be silenced." Roberts's tough questions, such as they were, included politely asking if Pfleger had gone "too far" and speculating how he would feel if Obama lost the White House as a result of his comments. (But that's more of a liberal critique disguised a hardball query.) More representative was when the host served up this easy question: "In 2008, are you surprised that race is still such a hot button issue?"

     Roberts also attempted to portray Father Pfleger simply as a crusader of the poor: "Pfleger has since spent the last 30 years cleaning up his impoverished south side Chicago parish, fighting the presence of poverty, drugs, gangs and gun violence." However, contrast that attitude of a caring, forgiving minister with his now infamous May 25, 2008 sermon at Trinity United, Barack Obama's former church:

In America, you have to understand that to say to people of color, 'Well, you gotta get over it' ... or 'It's time to move on,' it's like saying to a woman who has been repeatedly raped over and over and over and over and over, 'You need to get over it.'

The HELL I do! Get the sucker who's been rapin' me and make him pay!

America has been raping people of color and America has to pay the price for the rape!

How dare you say, 'Get over it'!

     See: www.huffingtonpost.com

     And while Roberts briefly explained how Pfleger has attempted to fight "gun violence," she somehow ignored his 2007 threat to "snuff" out Chicago gun shop owner John Riggio. CNSNews.com recounted it this way:

"I want the NRA [National Rifle Association] to understand -- you have a lot of money, but money can't buy moral authority and it can't buy justice or freedom, and we will fight you, NRA," he says.

...

Pfleger then turns his attention to Riggio. "He's the owner of Chuck's. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We're going to find you and snuff you out € you know you're going to hide like a rat. You're going to hide but like a rat we're going to catch you and pull you out. We are not going to allow you to continue to hide when we're here..."

     For the CNS story: www.cnsnews.com

     Again, according to Roberts, this is someone who is simply "passionate about the Word."

     A transcript of the June 26 segment, which aired at 7:07am:

     ROBIN ROBERTS: Well, after the program yesterday, I had a chance to sit down with Father Pfleger for an exclusive interview about his controversial sermon mocking Senator Clinton, which played a part in Barack Obama's decision to leave his longtime church. At any point, when you were making those comments at Trinity Church, did you feel that you were going too far? At any point did you feel that way?
     FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER: Well, let me say this, I think, first of all, you know, I was at a church family that I've spoken to many times, that I know well, and I think when you're around family, you're looser and do you get carried away, do you get more dramatic, do you get caught up in the crowd when you're around your friends and your family? Absolutely. And I acknowledge that. I was giving a talk about race, and is entitlement one of the things about race that I believe in? Is an unequal playing field one of the things I believe in? Yes. So, I don't apologize for being passionate. I don't apologize for being free. I apologize when my passion or my freeness and my flawness (sic) of character get in the way of the content, which is much more important to me, that people hear the message and when I am in the way of the message, then I'm not only apologetic but I'm also apt to, apt to change.
     ROBERTS: Do you understand why some people were offended by what you said, especially when you were talking about entitlement, how that really just stung a lot of people when you said that?
     PFLEGER: I understand it. Like I say, I apologize for my mannerism of what I said. I don't apologize for speaking about -- I think entitlement is a reality in this society.
     ROBERTS: Racial tensions are not new to the maverick priest who was first inspired to activism after seeing Martin Luther King speak. Pfleger has since spent the last 30 years cleaning up his impoverished south side Chicago parish, fighting the presence of poverty, drugs, gangs and gun violence. As you said over your time in the church that you've -- when you talk about race, that's when you get the most reaction and after the comments that you made, we understand that you received death threats.
     PFLEGER: Yes, I received death threats. I received people saying, I wish you were dead. Kill yourself or I'll kill you. I wish you were dead. I wish you'd be in a car accident. I wish one of the folks in your dangerous neighborhood would shoot you. It's the reality of the sensitivity of this country, the name-calling, the number of e-mails and letters using the "N" word, calling me a wigger and telling me why don't I go to Africa and just the racial language and the meanness tells me how sensitive an issue race is in this country.
     ROBERTS: In 2008, are you surprised that race is still such a hot button issue?
     PFLEGER: I'm not surprised. I have to say I'm saddened, though. That, you know, I look sometimes at that great speech that Dr. King gave, the "I have a dream" speech and his prayer of his children not being judged on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.
     MARTIN LUTHER KING: By the content of their character. I have a dream.
     PFLEGER: And yet all the studies tell us that still the number one factor of judgment in this country is still color, more than any other factor. That we still have an unequal justice system, that we still have more people of color in poverty, in jail, in poor education systems, lack of health care, all those statistics still tell us that we have not come as far as we'd like to come.
     ROBERTS: I know that you've made a promise to the cardinal that you will not talk about the candidates. You will not use their names. But you also said on Sunday that you are -- you're not someone to be silenced
     PFLEGER: Absolutely. I think that -- I think that the church's mission, you know, the church has to be the one to be the voice of conscience to the world and can't be afraid to be that so it has to speak to politics and policies and politicians and raise those questions or we're not faithful to what our mission is. Ours is not to ever be controlled by politics, but to speak to politics and address politics, and not be afraid of that.
     ROBERTS: And what if Obama loses the White House due in part to religious controversies involving Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Father Pfleger? He makes no apologies.
     PFLEGER: I think that would be a cheap shot to blame Reverend Wright or myself. I think it's easy to put a blame somewhere than to acknowledge what is the real reason. But I also think to be careful we don't look for easy outs to blame for real problems we're not willing to wrestle with and deal with and face.
     ROBERTS: Something Father Pfleger is clearly not afraid to do despite being knocked down.
     PFLEGER: [File footage] But you see me. I can get back up again. I can stand again. [File footage ends] We will trip in life and we will stumble in life and we'll make bad decisions and wrong choices in life but we have to make to that moment like Elijah under the broom tree when he's there saying let me die. Take my life. And the voice of God comes to him and says, get up.
     ROBERTS: You can see that last bit of video, recent video and that's his style. He's very -- he doesn't apologize for being passionate about the Word. He-- I asked him again and again about but you're a priest and seen mocking and many people say that's not Christian-like. And, again, saying he does not apologize for his message but he does have regrets in the manner in which he delivered that message.
     CHRIS CUOMO: It's a good interview.

 

Crime High Despite Gun Ban, Ruling Makes
Cities 'More Dangerous'

     As the Thursday broadcast evening newscasts reported on the Supreme Court ruling against D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership, ABC and CBS both relayed to viewers that D.C. has a high crime rate at the same time handguns are illegal. CBS's Katie Couric to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty: "I was surprised to hear from Wyatt Andrews that this ban has been in effect for 32 years....If that's the case, why has the District remained one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities in the country with this ban in effect?" ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg: "It's been called the nation's murder capital, Washington, D.C., even though handguns were strictly banned."

     But on the down side, CBS also ran a report by Bill Whitaker that focused on the complaints of gun control advocates, and seemed oblivious to links between gun control and high crime, even as he admitted Chicago has had a gun ban for 25 years, but still has 325 murders a year as he instead seemed to fret crime would get worse without the city's gun ban: "Chicago, which passed a gun ban similar to D.C.'s 25 years ago, had 325 gun homicides last year -- a 10-year-old shot in the head, a pregnant woman gunned down, a college student shot and killed. Mayor Daley said the Court's decision will make his mean streets even more dangerous."

     All three networks led with the story. CBS first ran a report by Wyatt Andrews which was mostly balanced between advocates on both sides, in which the CBS correspondent mentioned that D.C.'s gun ban was 32 years old. But Andrews did not mention D.C.'s high crime rate which suggests the ban has been ineffective, even as he passed on the view of city officials who argue that "the handgun ban has kept thousands of guns off the streets and saved hundreds of lives."

     It was left to Couric to point out the failure of D.C.'s handgun ban as she interviewed DC Mayor Fenty after Andrews's story. After asking him if he thought the ruling would "make your city more dangerous," she then followed up with one of the best lines of the evening: "I was surprised to hear from Wyatt Andrews that this ban has been in effect for 32 years. And it was just recently challenged. If that's the case, why has the District remained one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities in the country with this ban in effect?"

     [This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     After the Fenty interview came Whitaker's report which focused on complaints by gun control advocates with only one soundbite given to a gun control opponent. Couric introduced the report contending that "while gun rights organizations like the NRA cheered today's ruling, several mayors worried about what happens next."

     Whitaker ran four soundbites of several gun control advocates during his story, including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley complaining about children being "killed in their homes by guns," and LAPD Chief William Bratton decrying "America's love affair with firearms" and the "insanity" of the Supreme Court ruling. Whitaler only ran one opposing soundbite in the form of NRA attorney Chuck Michel, whom Whitaker tagged as part of the "gun lobby," as Michel talked about the "fundamental right to self-defense."

     The CBS correspondent also did not seem to pick up on the possible link between Chicago's gun ban and the high level of crime in the city: "Chicago, which passed a gun ban similar to D.C.'s 25 years ago, had 325 gun homicides last year -- a 10-year-old shot in the head, a pregnant woman gunned down, a college student shot and killed. Mayor Daley said the Court's decision will make his mean streets even more dangerous....According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 30,000 Americans die from gun violence each year -- some 80 a day -- 321 killed by guns in Philadelphia last year; 114 in Oakland, California; 316 in Los Angeles."

     On ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, there was more emphasis on the closeness of the Supreme Court vote than at the other networks as substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos referred to the "closely-divided Court" and the "narrow decision" during his introduction to Jan Crawford Greenburg's report. Greenburg stated that the decision "deeply divided" the Court, although she surprisingly referred to the four dissenting justices as "liberals" while she did not label the justices in the majority as "conservative."

     Greenburg's report was mostly balanced as she came closest of the three evening newscasts of making a link between D.C.'s high crime rate and its handgun ban as she employed a soundbite from one of the plaintiffs in the case: "It's been called the nation's murder capital, Washington, D.C., even though handguns were strictly banned." A clip of lawsuit plaintiff and D.C. resident Shelly Parker was shown: "The criminals have guns. If you're a law-abiding citizen, the law in this city says you do not have a gun."

     Last year on 20/20, ABC's John Stossel made the case that gun bans lead to more crime, and argued that D.C.'s crime rate increased after its city's gun ban was instituted. Stossel: "Since Washington's gun law passed, the murder rate actually increased, even while America's murder rate dropped. It's because guns can also save lives, says [plaintiff Tom] Palmer, as one saved his years ago in California."

     After Greenburg's report came a story filed by Dan Harris about the likelihood there will be more lawsuits filed against other gun laws. While the ABC correspondent included soundbites from advocates on each side, at one point, he seemed to belittle gun control opponents as he relayed that gun control advocates believe they can "swat away" these lawsuits.

     The NBC Nightly News only ran one story on the subject, which anchor Brian Williams introduced using language gun control opponents would likely approve of, as he contended that D.C. did not "protect the basic right of the individual." Williams: "Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued the most important decision ever on gun rights in America. And they have protected the basic right of the individual striking down the law in Washington, D.C., that did not."

     Pete Williams's report was mostly balanced, using advocates on both sides, although at one point he seemed to suggest that that ruling would cause "damage" to crime control as he contended that "in Washington, city officials sought to limit the damage of today's ruling, emphasizing that it struck down only the gun ban at home."

     In March of last year, the NBC Nightly News reported on a similar ruling by the Federal Appeals Court, which was ignored by ABC and CBS, and even sounded even sounding somewhat favorable toward the pro-gun side. See the March 13, 2007 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

     Also of note, according to a January 2000 study by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens on media coverage of gun issues, while all three major broadcast networks were found to be substantially biased in favor of gun control, NBC was relatively least biased compared to ABC and CBS. See: www.mrc.org

     Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, the CBS Evening News, and the NBC Nightly News from Thursday, June 26:

     # ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

     GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, IN OPENING TEASER: Welcome to World News. Tonight, the Supreme Court settles the Second Amendment debate. For the first time in our history, it rules that individual Americans have the right to own guns.

...

     STEPHANOPOULOS: Good evening. For 217 years, Americans have wrestled with the meaning of these 27 words in the bill of rights: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Today, for the first time ever, the Supreme Court defined those words. The Second Amendment guarantees each citizen's right to own a gun. But even as it settled the constitutional question by striking down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban, the closely-divided Court set off a new debate about what kinds of gun laws are permissible. We start, tonight, with Jan Crawford Greenburg, at the Supreme Court. And, Jan, this is a narrow decision, but it has sweeping implications.

     JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Oh, it sure does, George. This is one of the great unresolved constitutional questions. And the justices, today, fired a shot that will travel from city to city, across the United States. It's been called the nation's murder capital, Washington, D.C., even though handguns were strictly banned.
     SHELLY PARKER, LAWSUIT PLAINTIFF: The criminals have guns. If you're a law-abiding citizen, the law in this city says you do not have a gun.
     [CLIP OF PROTESTS CHANTING, "Goodbye, gun ban."]
     GREENBURG: Today, that law was struck down as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, for the first time in history, ruled individuals have a right to protect themselves with a gun.
     DICK HELLER, LAWSUIT PLAINTIFF: I can defend myself in my home, defend my family, my household, whatever that is, with my own personal handgun, rifle or shotgun.
     GREENBURG: The decision deeply divided the Court. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Constitution's Second Amendment protects an individual's right "to keep and bear arms," including handguns. "Handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid." The ruling struck a huge victory for the NRA.
     WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: It's a great moment in American history. I mean, it's a vindication for all the people all over the country who always knew this was their individual right worth protecting.
     GREENBURG: But Scalia, mindful of high crime rates, said the right was not absolute. Cities and states could pass reasonable restrictions, including prohibiting possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, as well as banning "dangerous and unusual weapons." That could mean military-style assault weapons. Liberal justices in dissent said today's ruling would chip away at gun control efforts across the country. Justice Steven Breyer: "The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States." Gun control advocates agreed. They said they expect immediate challenges to other gun laws.
     PAUL HELMKE, BRADY CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: I think we're going to see a lot more threats to gun laws. We're going to see a lot more court action on gun laws.
     GREENBURG: Breyer also said crime nationwide could increase: "If a resident has a handgun in the home that he can use for self-defense, then he has a handgun in the home that he can use to commit suicide or engage in acts of domestic violence." But this summer in Washington, D.C., residents will start buying guns legally for the first time in 30 years. It was a landmark ruling, a constitutional question finally resolved after more than 200 years, and a ruling that's going to affect gun laws from coast to coast. George?

     STEPHANOPOULOS: Jan Crawford Greenburg, at the Supreme Court. Thanks. As Jan reported, today's ruling will set up new challenges to gun laws across the country. Activists and public officials are bracing for a fight. Here's Dan Harris.
     DAN HARRIS: Tomorrow, in San Francisco, the first in an expected avalanche of legal challenges to gun laws as a result of today's ruling. A lawsuit against the city, which bans handguns in public housing.
     CHUCK MICHEL, CALIFORNIA RIFLE AND PISTOL ASSOCIATION: And in the process, deprives them of the right to choose to own a firearm to defend themselves or their families.
     HARRIS: In Chicago and several surrounding suburbs, where there are handgun bans similar to the one in Washington, D.C., legal challenges are imminent, too. The Mayor of Chicago was clearly displeased today.
     MAYOR RICHARD DALEY (D-CHICAGO): Why don't we do away with the court system and go back to the old West. You have a gun and I have a gun, and we'll settle it on the streets.
     HARRIS: And here in New York City, which is one of the toughest places in the country to legally own a gun, there is real talk of litigation discussed against the city's very stringent licensing requirements.
     ROBERT LEVY, CATO INSTITUTE: I think it's quite clear that any regulation that even approaches what we have in Washington, D.C., is going to be challenged, and is going to be invalidated.
     HARRIS: Across the country tonight, pro-gun forces are poised to take on a whole range of gun regulations -- from mandatory trigger locks, to waiting periods, to assault weapon bans. Gun control advocates say they are confident they can swat away many of these challenges. But they're worried their hands will now be tied in the fight against urban violence.
     ROBYN THOMAS, LEGAL COMMUNITY AGAINST VIOLENCE: We have a great concern that resources will have to be spent defending good laws that are already on the books.
     HARRIS: Tonight, we know this: Americans have the right to own firearms. But, both sides agree, we're now heading into a period where the scope of that right is fought over fiercely. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.


     # CBS Evening News:

     KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: Tonight, an historic ruling and a major victory for gun rights. The Supreme Court says Americans can keep guns at home for self-defense.

...

     COURIC: Good evening, everyone. It is the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has ever taken up the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment since it was ratified back in 1781, and the justices concluded that Americans do have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting. It was a 5-4 ruling. Justices Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas in the majority. Dissenting were Justices Breyer, Bader Ginsburg, Stevens, and Souter. In the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: "[The Constitution does not permit] the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home." Wyatt Andrews begins our coverage tonight.

     WYATT ANDREWS: This is one for the history books -- the first-ever Supreme Court declaration that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-protection. "The Second Amendment," writes Justice Antonin Scalia, "protects an individual right to possess a firearm, unconnected with service in a militia, and to use it for lawful purposes, such as self-defense." It was a victory for a group of Washington, D.C., residents who challenged the 32-year-old D.C. ban on owning handguns. Under the ban, security guard Richard Heller could have a gun at work, but not at home.
     RICHARD HELLER, LAWSUIT PLAINTIFF: I'm very happy that now I'm able to defend myself.
     MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY (D-DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA): I am disappointed in the Court's ruling.
     ANDREWS: Very unhappy, though, are D.C. officials, who argue the handgun ban has kept thousands of guns off the streets and saved hundreds of lives.
     FENTY: More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence.
     ANDREWS: In his opinion, Justice Scalia was careful not to throw out all gun control laws, stating flatly, "The Second Amendment right is not unlimited." And he made clear, as if speaking to D.C. officials, they still have "a variety of tools, including some measures regulating handguns."
     RANDY BARNETT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Short of a complete prohibition, it does not throw out any existing gun regulation that I know of, and is not likely to do so.
     ANDREWS: So this was about the complete ban?
     BARNETT: It was primarily about the complete ban.
     ANDREWS: But the ruling will be immediately tested around the country anywhere there's a ban on guns for home protection.
     WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: You can't say some people in the country can have a firearm in their home for personal protection but in another part of the country you can't. That's not the way we work in the United States.
     ANDREWS: What is historic here, though, is that the Second Amendment has long been the last area that's untested under the Constitution. And so now this great debate -- does the right to bear arms apply just to militias or to the people? -- has been settled in favor of the people. Katie?

     KATIE COURIC: Wyatt Andrews at the Supreme Court tonight. Thanks very much. Adrian Fenty is the Mayor of Washington, D.C. Mayor Fenty, first of all, what was your reaction to this Supreme Court decision?
     ADRIAN FENTY: Well, definite disappointment. The residents of this city, you know, want to find ways to have less guns in the city limits, so having more guns is, it's definitely a setback.
     COURIC: Do you think this ruling will, in fact, make your city more dangerous?
     FENTY: Well, I think most residents agree with law enforcement. Our chief of police, other chiefs from around the country, believe that in cities, at least, simple arguments, you know, low-level crimes end up going bad because people have guns and they end up using them.
     COURIC: Meanwhile, I was surprised to hear from Wyatt Andrews that this ban has been in effect for 32 years.
     FENTY: Yeah.
     COURIC: And it was just recently challenged. If that's the case, why has the District remained one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities in the country with this ban in effect?
     FENTY: Is it still too high? Absolutely. And there's a lot of things that need to be done about from education to locking more people up, et cetera. But putting more guns into the city is very likely going to end up with more guns in the hands of criminals. We're going to do everything possible to keep crime going down, but it just toughens the burden on law enforcement to try and make that happen.
     COURIC: Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty. Mayor Fenty, thanks so much.
     FENTY: Thank you very much.

     COURIC: Washington is not the only big city with a gun violence problem. And while gun rights organizations like the NRA cheered today's ruling, several mayors worried about what happens next. Bill Whitaker has that part of the story.

     BILL WHITAKER: In Chicago, which has been rocked and shocked by gun violence in recent years, the reaction to today's Supreme Court decision was swift and sharp.
     MAYOR RICHARD DALEY (D-CHICAGO): Time and time again, how many children have been killed in their homes by guns?
     WHITAKER: Chicago, which passed a gun ban similar to D.C.'s 25 years ago, had 325 gun homicides last year -- a 10-year-old shot in the head, a pregnant woman gunned down, a college student shot and killed. Mayor Daley said the Court's decision will make his mean streets even more dangerous.
     DALEY: The Supreme Court and Congress has no obligation to keep our country safe. It falls on the backs of mayors, and your local officials.
     WHITAKER: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 30,000 Americans die from gun violence each year -- some 80 a day -- 321 killed by guns in Philadelphia last year; 114 in Oakland, California; 316 in Los Angeles.
     CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: The insanity continues. America's love affair with firearms has now been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court.
     SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): And I happen to believe that this is now going to open the doors to litigation against every gun safety law that states have passed.
     WHITAKER: In fact, the gun lobby is wasting no time -- 15 minutes after the high court's ruling, the Illinois Rifle Association filed a lawsuit challenging Chicago's ban. Lawyers for the NRA are filing suit in California tomorrow to overturn a San Francisco law banning guns on city property, including housing projects.
     CHUCK MICHEL, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: It's really about the fundamental right, even a common law right, to self-defense.
     CHRIS DALY, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: If we do not allow lawmakers, those democratically elected by the citizenry, to regulate handguns, then we are taking away one of our most powerful tools to save lives.
     WHITAKER: While today's ruling still allows some regulation of handguns, it's bound to trigger years of litigation as regulation opponents challenge existing gun laws around the country.


     # NBC Nightly News:

     BRIAN WILLIAMS, IN OPENING TEASER: On the broadcast tonight, the right to bear arms: What do those words really mean, once and for all? Today the Supreme Court answered that question.

...

     BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. Is there a right to bear arms in this country? Do Americans have the right to own a gun? And is that what the Second Amendment to the Constitution really means? Or did the constitutional Framers only mean members of a militia? Well, today the U.S. Supreme Court issued the most important decision ever on gun rights in America. And they have protected the basic right of the individual striking down the law in Washington, D.C., that did not. We begin at the Court tonight with our justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, good evening.
     PETE WILLIAMS: Brian, in this landmark ruling, the Supreme Court for the first time says what the Second Amendment right to bear arms really means, outlining constitutional protections for 80 million Americans who own guns. The decision is a huge victory for advocates of gun rights and for Dick Heller of Washington, D.C., who challenged the city's strict ban on handguns.
     DICK HELLER, LAWSUIT PLAINTIFF: -and I'm very happy that now I'm able to defend myself and my household in my own home.
     PETE WILLIAMS: The Court said the Second Amendment's preamble about a "well regulated militia" does not restrict gun ownership to militias. The rest of the amendment, the court said, about "the right of the people to keep and bear arms," guarantees individuals the right to own a gun. As for the problem of gun violence, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion for the five-member majority said the Second Amendment "takes some policy choices off the table." That means Washington, D.C. cannot totally ban handguns, which he described as the quintessential self-defense weapon, especially in the home where he said the "need for defense of self, family and property is most acute."
     WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: What this ruling clearly said is that Second Amendment rights cannot become second-class rights under the Constitution. And that's a monumental day.
     PETE WILLIAMS: The NRA said it would immediately challenge handgun bans in Chicago and its suburbs, and San Francisco, and might even challenge some laws requiring background checks for gun buyers. Today's ruling said cities can still limit gun ownership -- requiring registration, for example; blocking sales to felons and the mentally ill; and banning guns in schools or government buildings. Advocates of gun control tried to take comfort in that.
     PAUL HELMKE, BRADY CENTER PRESIDENT: The real issue, though, is once we get the fight over the theory, once we get the fight over what the Second Amendment means behind us, what can we do in our communities to make us safer?
     PETE WILLIAMS: Here in Washington, city officials sought to limit the damage of today's ruling, emphasizing that it struck down only the gun ban at home.
     PETER NICKLES, WASHINGTON, D.C., CITY ATTORNEY: Let me be very clear, you cannot go out today if you have a handgun and carry it around.
     PETE WILLIAMS: But today's ruling doesn't say much about what other kinds of limits on gun ownership might be constitutional, and that tees up a whole new wave of court battles over gun rights, Brian.
     BRIAN WILLIAMS: NBC's Pete Williams on today's landmark ruling. Pete, thanks.

 

CNN: SCOTUS 'Kills' DC Handgun Ban, Slants
Toward Gun Victim

     In anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of DC handgun ban on Thursday, CNN's Newsroom program ran a report on both the sides of the gun case, in which the pro-gun control advocate was given twice the amount of air time as the gun rights advocate. The report, by CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena, ran twice within 20 minutes; first, at the top of the 10 am hour of Newsroom, minutes before the decision was released, and then immediately after the news of the decision broke.

     In addition to this, when the 5-4 decision upholding the lower court's finding that the ban was unconstitutional, the Newsroom program initially ran a graphic that read, "Supreme Ct. Kills Handgun Ban: Overrules DC Law." The graphic ran for just under a minute until being replaced by another that read, "Supreme Ct. Overrules Gun Ban: Overrules DC Law Forbidding Handguns."

     Just over an hour after the Supreme Court's ruling came down, near the bottom half of the 11 am Eastern hour of Newsroom, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, when asked about the local impact of the decision, snarked that "the communities that care about safety and communities that don't want the bad effects of guns will try to rewrite their regulations in line with what they think the Court decided."

     [This is adapted from an item by Matthew Balan posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     So in Mr. Toobin's view, communities that recognize the good effects of guns, in terms of self-defense and lowering violent crime rates, must not "care about safety."

     Arena's report gave short profiles of Shelly Parker, one of the DC residents who challenged the constitutionality of the District's handgun ban; and Elilta Habtu, who "barely survived the Virginia Tech massacre." Arena played two soundbites each from Parker and Habtu, but Parker's total time in the segment totaled 13 seconds, whereas Habtu's time totaled 27 seconds, more than twice the amount.

     The full transcript of Kelli Arena's report:

     HEIDI COLLINS: As we mentioned, awaiting big news from the Supreme Court on your constitutional right to own a gun. The Supreme Court may finally settle the long debate over the Second Amendment. That ruling expected any time now. Our Kelli Arena and Jeanne Meserve both there covering the story for us. We're going to have that decision for you just as soon as we get it. First, a little background to share with you. It's case with huge political, legal, and personal implications. CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena explains those issues.

     KELLI ARENA (voice-over): Two women, two stories, two completely different interpretations of the U.S. Constitution.
     SHELLY PARKER, GUN RIGHTS PLAINTIFF: I believe the Second Amendment is written for the purpose of allowing individuals to have a gun at their choosing in their home.
     ARENA: Shelly Parker says that threats from drug dealers forced her to flee her old neighborhood in Washington, DC. A single woman, she wants a gun to protect herself. But Elilta Habtu says owning a gun is not the answer. She barely survived the Virginia Tech massacre.
     ELILTA HABTU VA. TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: Read the Constitution -- that's how it's written -- it's very clear what it says. It says -- the whole sentence -- it says for -- you have the right to hold your arms if you're doing it for militia.
     ARENA: It all centers on DC's handgun ban and whether the city can tell residents they can't own a firearm. DC says it has a right to keep its community safe. Parker, a DC resident, says it's her individual right to have a gun if she wants one.
     PARKER: Anybody who's a criminal can have a gun, but if you're trying to do the right thing, you don't have a gun, which leaves us prey to everybody else.
     ARENA: But Habtu, who still has a bullet lodged near the base of her brain, believes if she had a gun, she would not have survived the Virginia Tech killer's deadly rampage.
     HABTU: You have this kind of crazy idea that maybe we're [a] superhero on the inside, you know. If I had a gun, I would have overtaken [him]. No, you wouldn't have. Please, don't feel that, you know, just owning a gun will make you safer, because it won't.
     COLLINS (on-camera): Kelli Arena there with some opinions regarding this huge decision that is being discussed as we speak at the Supreme Court....

     It should be noted that CNN pitted Parker against Habtu once before, in an article on its website in March when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in DC handgun ban case. As MRC's Ken Shepherd noted in a March 18, 2008 post on NewsBusters.org, the article's author, Bill Mears, tried to "cast a cloud over the constitutional right to keep and bear arms."

     Ken Shepherd's March 18 NewsBusters.org post, "CNN.com Pits Gun Ban Opponent Against Virginia Tech Shooting Victim:" newsbusters.org

     Newsroom broke the news of the Court's decision 14 minutes into its 10 am hour, and co-host Tony Harris echoed the "Supreme Ct. Kills Handgun Ban" graphic that appeared on the screen: "We have the Supreme court decision that we've been waiting for on the DC handgun ban, and the Supreme Court, as you can see in the lower third there, has killed the handgun ban, overruling the DC law, ruling that law from DC unconstitutional."

 

Letterman's 'Top Ten Ways Kim Jong-Il
Can Improve His Image'

     From the June 26 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Kim Jong-Il Can Improve His Image." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Only torture dissidents on nights and weekends

9. Next time Regis is on vacation, co-host with Kelly

8. Open popular pizza chain "Papa Jong's"

7. Do a hilarious ventriloquist act on "North Korea's Got Talent"

6. Figure out a way to get us out of Iraq

5. Have advisors in Pyongyang come up with new big summer ideas

4. Come up with new catchphrase, "I'm a bad wittle dictator"

3. Four words: Tan in a Can

2. Step 1: break leg. Step 2: win major golf tournament

1. Improve? Hell, he's more popular than Bush

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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