CNN’s Town Hall Anti-Gun Agitprop, Part I: Rigged

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.
This is a misleading, incompetent, pandering, ignorant  statement. What does “less weapons” mean? No, we can’t just “take weapons” from people with mental illness. They have rights. All sick people have rights. “We shouldn’t have to wait until they are a danger to themselves or someone else” is pre-crime. No one rebutted this, because Rubio is slow witted and Looesh is worse. There should have been a constitutional law expert present to say, “Whoa, Sheriff, you can’t do those things.” In his absence, that was Tapper’s job. He failed his duty as a journalist.
  • 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.

Nice.

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.

I’ll be back with Part 2 after I get my gorge down…

 

8 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

8 responses to “CNN’s Town Hall Anti-Gun Agitprop, Part I: Rigged

  1. Steve

    “The men and women I’ve worked with for almost 40 years, we know how to keep America safe.”

    Such a mind blowing statement, even more so knowing his cops were cowering outside. Unless you are someone who believes we can outlaw guns in this country and successfully get all of them off the streets, this whole unfortunate situation is case in point of having an armed citizenry. Even with armed cops right there the cops did nothing to mitigate the situation while unarmed individuals were inside the school saving each others lives. In addition this kid was known to his department, they are the responsible law enforcement for this area not the FBI. His department failed on so many levels, with what we already know he should have already tendered his resignation already.

    “There should have been a constitutional law expert present to say, “Whoa, Sheriff”!” Any competent sheriff should completely understand constitutional rights, any that can’t should be immediately shit canned as it is their job to insure that the department isn’t violation any citizens rights.

  2. Inquiring Mind

    This just reflects something horrific. While Hollywood and the media celebrated the students who are now newly-minted spokespeople for gun control, the truth was that the FBI and Broward County Sheriff’s Office failed in their duties to the public.

    This is how we got President Trump.

  3. adimagejim

    The pacification of the population via gun confiscation intends to weaken the nation. (Jesse Jackson eat your heart out.)

    This is what the Alinskyites are up to.

  4. Inquiring Mind writes: ”While Hollywood and the media celebrated the students who are now newly-minted spokespeople for gun control, the truth was that the FBI and Broward County Sheriff’s Office failed in their duties to the public.This is how we got President Trump.”

    I find this interesting for a few different reasons. Since ‘agitprop’ is mentioned, and the word is a combination of ‘agitation’ and ‘propaganda’ used in Soviet Russia ‘to spread to the general public through popular media such as literature, plays, pamphlets, films, and other art-forms explicitly political messages’ (the Department of Agitation and Propaganda was a committee of the Soviet Communist Party), it seems to me that when ‘Hollywood’ and ‘the Media’ are included in a critical observation, that there is awareness that something is amiss.

    If ‘the Media’ is now turning these victim-children into actor-activists guided by a specific and anti-Constitutional program, it simply must imply (to push forward on the same comparison) a sort of ‘politboro’ which is a lovely contraction of ‘political bureau’, and for such to exist there has to be a planning and intellectual center of one sort or another. It does imply an organizing center.

    Many different thoughts, many different critical observations, rise to the surface of my mind when I consider the implications. It really has to do with ‘cultural productions’ and that of course means movies, music, but to that must be added the ‘theatre’ of political news at both poles: MSNBC and FOX for example. One obviously has to at least ask the question about intelligence agencies that are said to operate invisibly and their relation both to ‘Hollywood’ and to ‘the Media’. And what, dear reader, is the purpose of all this? To direct society along specific lines which really only means ‘social engineering’.

    Now, if this (all that) is what is ‘how we got President Trump’ I propose that in that there is a whole other series of questions. Did this electorate who voted for Trump actually vote for Trump or simply as a vote against ‘Hollywood, the Media, and the American politburo’? And if they did, What precisely are they hoping for? What do they desire politically, socially? Or (and I would think this is more likely) did they sort of ‘vote blind’ or vote emotionally? Meaning that it was not really an intellectual decision? And if we get ‘Trump’ when people vote against a corrupt system (for what else is being referred to really?) who are these people, these voters? For I thought they were neo-nazis and complete degenerates: the stupid underclass, without university education, wrench-turners and such.

    There are a dozen more questions to be asked of course. But one is sort of stopped before a wall of chaos because the entire situation is very difficult to understand if only because what is really going on cannot be articulated. To articulate implies that something is seen. But it is hard to see through fogs of chaos. This is a very important point as I see things: that ‘reality’ cannot be openly described because it cannot be seen, and this may connect to the will not to see. Self-obfuscation, self-deception and such. So there are two factors: systems of communication that obfuscate, and the individual who self-obfuscates. Why?

    Obviously, the ‘politburo’ (please excuse me the continued use of this hot word but I allow myself a bit of drama now and again!) cannot and will not describe itself and its politika (политика) openly. The very nature of ‘agitprop’ is that it is intentionality that is not revealed precisely as such. In this I suggest, though I ask for forgiveness when I employ a generalization, is that ‘America cannot explain itself to America’.

    America does not understand the secretive forces that operate behind the scenes and the entire notion is frightening in its implications. This also must lead to a more sophisticated historical analysis of the ‘postwar era’ and to the possibility of collusion between the executive branch, corporate and military interests, and the intelligence agencies: thus ‘politburo’. You see where this tends? One thing suggest another. And suddenly one is back to the Eisenhowerian statement about the danger of a ‘military-industrial complex’ the implications of which are exactly —- precisely! —- what I am alluding to.

    And then, naturally, inevitably, we turn our attention to ‘the American Conservative’. Who and what does the American Conservative serve? Does he really and truly serve the Republic? Or, is he a sort of ‘shill’ for the politburo? (Again, forgive me the use of that word but you must admit that it is not an unfair rhetorical embelishment to an analysis with solid idea-content).

    And then the American Progressive. What does that person serve? The Republic in some ‘true’ sense of the word? And where exactly is this ‘Republic’? When some opine that it long ago has been absorbed into structures that have far more in common with a neo-totalitarian state.

    And then back round in a circle to ‘Hollywood’ and ‘the Media’.

    (I am going to take an aspirin and lie down for a while).

    Please talk to me about these things! Help me to organize my perception and understanding so that I see clearly.

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