Part I is here.
When we last left our reflections on CNN’s “town hall” in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Sheriff Israel, who knew his employees had breached their duty and stayed outside the school after the gun fire was heard, pointed the finger of blame at the National Rifle Association while citing as his authority that “The men and women I’ve worked with for almost 40 years, we know how to keep America safe.”
Will this epic hypocrisy be the moment this episode of open mainstream media political agitprop will be remembered for over time? CNN is already furiously spinning to convince America that its February 21 debacle was not what most objective critics saw it to be from the start, while conservative critics composed the sharpest attacks. David Hirsanyi:
Between all the demonizing, heckling, sophistry, gaslighting, platitudes and emotional appeals, members of the crowd — people who should never be the target of conspiracy theories or ad hominem attacks, but who shouldn’t be exempted from a real debate, either…cheered at the idea of banning “every semiautomatic rifle in America.” Maybe someone will ask them if they support banning every semiautomatic in America, period, since the latter is responsible for the preponderance of gun homicides. One death is too many, after all.
Whatever the case, these young people are about to be hit by a harsh reality, because banning semiautomatic rifles or handguns is not only impractical (there are probably over 5 million AR-15s in circulation alone; and semiautomatics constitute the majority of modern guns) and not only likely unconstitutional (the Supreme Court has found that weapons “in common use by law-abiding citizens” are protected) but, for many millions of Americans who worry about the Second Amendment, also highly undesirable…
…[A] star-studded line-up of liberals, many of whom are funding the activism of Parkland students with big checks, cheered with them. Do they all agree that every semiautomatic rifle in America should be banned? Do they agree that anyone who supports legal semiautomatic rifles has “blood on their hands?” Someone with access should ask.
What we do know is that the entire liberal political class couldn’t stop praising the activism and lack of “cynicism” displayed by these kids (a selective admiration reserved for those who coincidentally align with their positions.) The kids were indeed earnest, even if they were generally uneducated about gun laws, legal process, and the underpinning of the Second Amendment — which is to be expected. Those who use them as political shields, on the other hand, are cynical. Those who put them on TV to participate in a national Airing of Grievances are cynical. Those who point to bodies of victims and argue that every American who refuses to accept the Left’s framing of the issue are the ones that deserve contempt.
…[E]vents like the CNN’s town hall go a long way in convincing gun owners that gun control advocates do have a desire to confiscate their weapons. They can’t confiscate weapons right now, so they support whatever feasible incremental steps are available to inch further toward that goal. We don’t know how this plays out in the long run. In the short run, though, it does nothing to stop the next school shooting.
Chris Cillizza, the ex-Washington Post political blogger who has devolved into a full time partisan hack at CNN, led the network’s self-damning spin campaign by first tweeting during the “town hall”:
For people who take shots at CNN, turn to the channel right now. This town hall is a really, really good discussion about a hugely important topic.
Take it from an ethicist, Chris (look it up): a biased and one-sided audience jeering and booing advocates of one position, including calling one of those advocates “a murderer” while the somnolent moderator does nothing is not a good discussion, nor is it ethical journalism. See, in a “really good discussion,” Chris, both sides in the debate feel they were heard, respected, and given an equal chance to express themselves. One side does not leave the stage feeling they were bullied and mugged. That you and CNN—Jake Tapper also has defended the “town hall” can say—perhaps sincerely—that this was a “really good discussion” tells us that “good” means “advanced the political and policy agenda we support, while abusing the opposition.”
Later, Cillizza posted an article on his CNN blog “The Point” challenging NRA head Wayne LaPierre’s statement that “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” Cillizza’s brain-dead point that helps explain how he could believe the “town hall” was a really good discussion:
“The problem for LaPierre is that this latest shooting in Parkland, Florida, isn’t an affirmation of that view. It’s a direct rebuttal. There was a good guy with a gun just outside the school when the bad guy with a gun started murdering people. The good guy with the gun wasn’t the solution. He didn’t stop it.”
Cillizza’s article also displays the gall to lecture readers about how
“There are no simple solutions. There are no foolproof answers. Mass shootings are not entirely preventable…No one thing will solve the problem. Which doesn’t mean we should try nothing. It means we need to smartly look into the various options and the efficacy of them. Simply because there is no foolproof solution that will end mass casualty shootings doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore options that could lessen their frequency.”
- CNN’s transcript deceptively fails to reflect that fact that in this first exchange, the audience was booing and jeering poor Marco Rubio almost without stop. Nor does it reflect accurately the utter disrespect student questioner Cameron Kasky displayed for Rubio, who is a U.S. Senator, and was willing to subject himself to the smug abuse of children. “Applause” in CNN transcript-speak often means “boos and jeers so loud it’s incredible” and “crosstalk” means “the students were shouting insults all at once.”
TAPPER: I want to bring in Cameron Kasky, he’s a junior, and he has a question for Senator Rubio. Cameron?
KASKY: I’m sorry, I know I’m not supposed to do this, but I’m not going to listen to that. Senator Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down a barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nicholas Cruz, but the point is you’re here and there some people who are not.And I need to ask two things of you. Number one, Chris Grady, can you stand up? This is my friend who is going to the military. I need you to tell him that he’s going to live to make it to serve our country. And then we’ll get to the other one.RUBIO: Not only are you going to live to serve our country, you and you and all of you have a chance to change our country. Change not just our laws but the way we talk about our laws. So absolutely.KASKY: Thank you. And guys, look, this isn’t about red and blue. We can’t boo people because they’re democrats and boo people because they’re republicans. Anyone who is willing to show change, no matter where they’re from, anyone who is willing to start to make a difference is somebody we need on our side here. And this is about people who are for making a difference to save us and people who are against it and prefer money. So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?(APPLAUSE)KASKY: I wish I could have — I wish I could have spoken — I wished I could have asked the NRA lady a question. I would ask her, how she can look in the mirror, considering the fact she has children, but maybe she avoids those.RUBIO: I’m sorry, what was that?KASKY: I don’t freaking know.RUBIO: That’s okay —TAPPER: The question is about NRA money.RUBIO: — so number one, the positions I hold on these issues of the second amendment — I’ve held since the day entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official.Number two — no. The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda. And I do support the Second Amendment. And I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that’s why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for —KASKY: No more — no more NRA money?RUBIO: — during my time here.KASKY: More NRA money?RUBIO: I — there — that is the wrong way to look — first of all, the answer is, people buy into my agenda.KASKY: You can say no.RUBIO: Well — I — I — the influence of any group —KASKY: Guys, come on , be quiet. We’re gonna be here all night.RUBIO: The influence of these groups comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda. The millions…KASKY: See, I see…RUBIO: — of Americans that support the NRA, and who…TAPPER: All right.RUBIO: — support gun rights…(CROSSTALK)TAPPER: Sorry, Senator.Guys.KASKY: Guys, guys, if you…(CROSSTALK)TAPPER: Cameron is having a conversation with Senator Rubio. Let’s let them talk.RUBIO: But I — I — listen. I respect — you can ask that question, and I can tell you that I — people buy into my agenda. I will answer any questions you guys have about any policy issue…(CROSSTALK)KASKY: Right — right — right now — Guys, be quiet, be quiet. You know we’re gonna be here all night.RUBIO: And I — and I just think that, ultimately, that is not our goal here. Our goal here is to move forward…KASKY: Wait, so, hold on. So — so right now…RUBIO: … and prevent — and prevent this from ever happening again.KASKY: … in the name — in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?(APPLAUSE)RUBIO: I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this from getting a gun.KASKY: No, but I’m talking about NRA money.(OFF-MIKE)RUBIO: No, no. Because I — matter of fact, I bet we can get people in here to give you exactly as much money as the NRA would have…(APPLAUSE)RUBIO: But it’s not — I understand. And you’re right.KASKY: Can you stand up and put your name to that real quick? OK. Not a lot. But we’ll get it.(LAUGHTER)KASKY: I’ll do it…(CROSSTALK)RUBIO: You’re — you’re right about that.KASKY: … you know, we’ve raised quite a bit of money so far.RUBIO: Well, you’re right about that. There is money on both sides of every issue in America. And where that leaves us in policymaking, is to look at the issues and make a decision based on what we think is right. But ultimately, look. The First Amendment is as — is as important as the Second. And therefore, you have every right to ask that question of me, and I…(CROSSTALK)KASKY: Are you gonna be accepting money from the NRA in the future?RUBIO: I — I’ve always supported…(APPLAUSE)RUBIO: — I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda. But my agenda is — I’ll give you a perfect example…(CROSSTALK)KASKY: Your agenda is protecting us, right?RUBIO: Well, I’ll give you an example, this very evening. I have told you that I support lifting the age from 18 to 21 of buying a rifle. My understanding, before I walked out here, is that that organization is not in favor of that. But I think that’s the right thing to do.I don’t know what their position is, on teachers being armed. But I don’t think they should be. Because that’s what I think the right thing to do is.When I offered my bill to restrict people on the terrorist watch list, or that have been on the list for the last 10 years from purchasing a weapon, they didn’t take a stand. I don’t think they — they certainly didn’t support my — but I offered it. I will do what I think is right. And if people want to support my agenda, they’re welcome to do so. But they buy into my ideas. I don’t buy into theirs.KASKY: OK. So I knew that was gonna happen. NRA, please just keep the money out of Rubio, OK? If he wants to run again, you guys can…(CROSSTALK)TAPPER: Thank you, Cameron. Appreciate it.
Really good discussion, Jake, Chris; I see what you mean! No simplistic nostrums there! We all know it’s all the NRA’s fault. Yes, Tapper appreciates a high-school student haranguing Marco Rubio and equating him to the school shooter.
Of course, CNN made certain that its sole elected Second Amendment advocate on the stage didn’t have the wit or fortitude to put a self-righteous teenager in his place when he was being rude and grandstanding, essentially accusing Rubio of accepting bribes to let kids be murdered. The whole concept of CNN’s show trial was to make the emotional arguments of the traumatized students unassailable. Who was going to have the guts to say to Kasky, “Look, you don’t know what you’re talking about, so be quiet a second and let me explain it to you without your friends drowning me out. But I do urge you to go to some forums with Senators and Congress members who accept donations from pro-abortion groups and make these same arguments. Will you pledge right now to do that, Cameron?” Not Marco Rubio, that’s for sure.
- Here was a question from a history teacher to Dana Loesch:
“Dana, I viewed the dead body of Carmen Schentrup, our student. I watched her mother and father kiss her goodbye one last time, and close the top of her casket. I looked at Robert, and I hugged him, my dear, dear Robert. And I told you that Carmen, she died a martyr. Our kids have started a revolution. I’m proud, and I’m inspired to be a part of Never Again.Now, here’s my question. I’m a history teacher. I ask my students to define terms for me. So I’d like you to define something for me, because I’ve wondered about it and I want to know. What is your definition of a “well-regulated” militia, as stated in the Second Amendment? And, using supporting detail, explain to me how —(LAUGHTER)(CROSSTALK)Let me — let me finish. Let me finish. And using supporting detail, explain to me how an 18-year-old with a military rifle is well-regulated. And the world — our country, our nation — is gonna grade your answer.”
- Then there was this low point—CNN scrubbed the heckling, so to give the flavor of how this played out, I’m going to combine the CNN version with the one published by Newsbusters, as student Emma Gonzalez (above) attacked Loesch:
“Alright. Dana Loesch, I want to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not. The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and weapons — weapons, and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?”
Here a competent moderator should have intervened, saying: “I’m going to insist that all questioners phrase their questions to our guests in a far and respectful manner, and if they do not, I’m going to move on to another questioner. This is not how to have a civil discussion. Try again, Emma.”
Of course, Tapper did not, because he appreciates Emma. From Newsbusters:
[Loesch said] that, on behalf of the NRA, its millions of members do not believe that the gunman or anyone who was “crazy” should be able to purchase a gun.
She added that she was “fighting for my kids” and “all of you because I don’t want anyone to ever be in this position again” and, to the rising boos, she correctly emphasized that it’s “not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers” to the NICS database.
After enduring a slew of new jeers, Loesch told the NHL arena crowd to “let me answer the question” twice and “[y]ou can shout me down when I’m finished, but let me answer Emma’s question.” It was here that someone shouted, “you’re a murderer!” at the top of their lungs. Once again, Tapper did nothing to call out this behavior.
This was the first of several times when someone in the crowd shouted that Loesch was a murderer, presumably by virtue of her association with the NRA. I don’t know about Chris Cillizza, but in my case I’ve never considered it to be a really good discussion when people were interrupting me by calling me a murderer.
Loesch, meanwhile, was, as usual, incompetent, essentially agreeing with the ignorant and unconstitutional position that emotional illness and mental illness should justify removing citizens’ rights. “Crazy” is a subjective term, and a tiny proportion of the mentally ill are dangerous.
To sum up this fiasco, it is impossible to have a “good discussion” of a complex issue…
…before all the facts are known
….in a rigged, circus atmosphere
….created by a politically biased news organization
….before an audience overwhelmingly favoring one point of view
….containing recently traumatized teens,
….with the guests consisting of an incompetent sheriff trying to cover for his own accountability for a tragedy
….plus two politicians to pandering to the angry mob
…and two incompetent advocates for the unpopular position
…all overseen by a passive and inept moderator.