CNN Vs. The NRA: Ethically, It’s No Contest

1. Let us begin with this. The National Rifle Association is an advocacy organization. Advocacy organizations operate exactly like lawyer representing clients, and their ethical obligations are similar. They must be loyal to the interests of the object of the representation. They must be zealous, honest, and they must avoid conflicts of interest. In this regard all advocacy organizations, regardless of where they land on the ideological or partisan spectrum, are the same. They have a mission, and a job, and a duty to do it well. The ACLU exists to be an advocate for absolute integrity of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth. The NRA has a similar mission regarding the Second Amendment, because the ACLU has never been zealous about that one. FIRE advocates for free speech on college campuses, which is often not a First Amendment issue.

NARAL is a zealous advocate for abortion rights, in absolute terms. Most advocacy groups adopt absolute positions which often seem unreasonable to moderates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an advocacy group for business—I once worked for them—and opposed government regulations. The Association for Justice—I worked for them too–is an advocacy group for plaintiff’s trial lawyers, and fights any efforts at reforming the tort system, such as capping damages or punishing frivolous lawsuits. All of these and more take the extreme position on one side of a controversy to balance other advocacy groups that take extreme positions in opposition. In this they are very much like opposing lawyers in a trial, except the public is the jury. This is how democracy works, and it is the only way democracy can work.

Condemning and demonizing an advocacy organization because one does not agree with or dislikes the position it advocates is, in my view, exactly like condemning a lawyer for effectively representing an unpopular client—and a lot of ignorant Americans do that, too. Citizens have a right to have an effective organization promote their views and opinions in the court of public opinion, just as citizens have a right to have a competent attorney to represent their interests in a court of law. Attacks on this principle are unsustainable, unethical, and undermine democracy.

2. CNN, and other segments of the news media but especially CNN, has been aggressively attacking this principle since February 14, when Nicholas Cruz opened fire. CNN is NOT an advocacy organization, or is not supposed to be. It is a news organization, and its job and duty is to present facts to the “jury” without trying to influence it one way or the other. On the gun issue, CNN has completely abandoned objectify and its duty to inform, in an unethical effort to advocate for anti-gun interests antithetical to journalism standards.

3. Here is a stunning admission by the New York Times, which has been almost as shrill in its call for gun bans as CNN, in a front page story (Bolding mine):

To many of its opponents, that decades-long string of victories is proof that the N.R.A. has bought its political support. But the numbers tell a more complicated story: The organization’s political action committee over the last decade has not made a single direct contribution to any current member of the Florida House or Senate, according to campaign finance records.

In Florida and other states across the country, as well as on Capitol Hill, the N.R.A. derives its political influence instead from a muscular electioneering machine, fueled by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of campaign ads and voter-guide mailings, that scrutinizes candidates for their views on guns and propels members to the polls.

“It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A. board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s who’s good on the Second Amendment.”

Continue reading

CNN’s Town Hall Anti-Gun Agitprop, Part II: “A Really Good Discussion”

Emma Gonzalez (L) confronts Dana Loesch (R)

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.

Continue reading