Anyone seeking smoking gun evidence of the unconscionable bias in the news media need look no further than the conduct of CNN since the murders of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The network’s anchors and talking head have abandoned any pretense of objectivity, taking on the roles of full-throated advocates without demonstrating any particular acumen or expertise while ranting and hectoring defenders of the Second Amendment. This disgraceful example on Don Lemon’s show was a low point, but many others came close. Contributor Van Jones retweeted a claim that mass shooters were Republicans. Afternoon CNN Newsroom anchor Brooke Baldwin harangued Florida Republican State Representative Matt Caldwell for not submitting to emotional blackmail and voting to not debate a gun banning measure in the midst of media-amped hysteria. [Note: what follows is not journalism. It is activism.]
BALDWIN: They’re asking for you to consider — SIR! SIR! SIR! They are asking for you to consider a conversation — a consideration of a ban of a weapon used in war instead of having it in the hands
CALDWELL: Brooke, we are — we are going to have a conversation
BALDWIN: — of a deranged individual which we have witnessed in so many shootings in this country.
CALDWELL: We did. I had a conversation today.
BALDWIN: Why won’t you have that conversation?
Then CNN showed us what it and the anti-gun Left considers “a conversation.” On February 21, it held one of its infamous “town meetings”—you know, like the one where CNN contributor Donna Brazile slipped candidate Hillary Clinton advance notice of a pre-scripted question?—hosted by Jake Tapper. Tapper is arguably the only CNN anchor with a shred of credibility left, or was, until this debacle.
CNN didn’t even attempt to make the program appear fair or balanced. Here was the official title: “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” How even handed! The program followed CNN’s script since the shootings: present teenagers to America as authorities on social policy, crime, psychology and Constitutional law because they survived a massacre. What’s the best description of the arrangement—Set-up? Stacked deck? Kangaroo court? Lynch mob? The school shooter won’t be tried in Broward County because he won’t be able to get a fair trial, and that’s probably a year from now. CNN pretended that it could hold a rational, balanced debate about United States gun policy in a community where school children had just been shot. That is not the environment in which to have a “conversation.”
What lay ahead was made even clearer when Tapper announced the participants: On the NRA is evil, guns are a menace and this is all the fault of Republicans side were Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch,and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. On the here are the people with blood on their hands and deserving of your contempt and hate side were National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, a conservative hack, and Senator Marco Rubio.
Now, I know that CNN can claim that all they did was to include Broward County’s member of Congress and Florida’s two U.S. Senators, but the fact is that it left Rubio as the only Republican in the room. Moreover, as we saw in the debates, Marco is not exactly impressive under pressure. They must have been high-fiving in the producers’ meeting: two politicians who could be counted on to pander to the antigun position and mouth the usual talking points, and Marco Rubio. Not only two against one, but two against one who has proven himself to be a weak advocate for anything. Had CNN been interested in a fair debate with both sides represented with equal force, it would have added an articulate pro-gun advocate, for there are many. CNN is not interested in a fair debate, however. It was staging a show trial.
Rubio should have refused to show up, and Loesch as well. It is not smart to walk into an ambush, and when one does, people will presume consent.
The transcript is here. The audience was entirely one-sided, and Tapper, who was a miserable, timid moderator, doing nothing to quell the hostility in the room. Some points of interest:
- Reflecting CNN’s formula for rigging the discussion, there were 23 questions asked (not including repeated questions during arguments)..Of those 23, 17 were from a strong anti-gun perspective. Five had no clear bias.
A single questioner reflected a pro-Second Amendment perspective.
- Colton Haab, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who heroically shielded his fellow students from the bullets with sheets of Kevlar and was a member of the Junior ROTC program, said that he withdrew from the program after CNN pressured him to ask a scripted question. CNN denies that its questions were scripted, and has released e-mails to discredit Haab.
Here is Mediaite’s report on the controversy. Its analysis citing CNN’s need to restrict Haab’s comments, which would have been lengthy, in the interests of time, would be more persuasive if the tilt of the questions hadn’t been so unbalanced.
- Sheriff Israel delivered this speech during the meeting to Loesch:
Let me interject for a second, though. And I understand your standing up to the NRA and I understand that’s what you’re supposed to do. But, you just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them, until you say I want less weapons.These people want three things. And, I come here tonight with 39 years in law enforcement. I baker acted people, I’ve taken weapons from people. The men and women I’ve worked with for almost 40 years, we know how to keep America safe.Number one, you’re right, we have to take weapons out of the hands of people that suffer from mental illness. We have to expand the Baker Act. We have to be able, when police encounter someone, who is going through a mental illness. We don’t only have to wait – – we shouldn’t have to wait until they are a danger to themselves or someone else. We should be able to take them to an institution that’s going to examine them and take weapons away from them right then and there, at that time.
- Then we learned that while he was lecturing Loesch and playing the hero to the crowd, Israel knew, but had note yet revealed, that his officer, armed and charged with entering the school and attempting to stop the shooter before he did maximum damage, defied protocol and remained outside.
This is why holding such events according to what will generate the most ratings and doing so responsibly, after the facts are in, are often in conflict.
- And today it is coming out that in addition to the armed school resource officer who let the students die, three other Broward County sheriff’s deputies were outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and didn’t enter.
I’ll be back with Part 2 after I get my gorge down…