In much the same way that 1998 could be designated the Year of the Intern, 1999 was the Year of the School Shooting. On December 17, ABC collected a time capsule to declare who we were for the Americans of 2100, Diane Sawyer muttered "perhaps nothing worries Americans more about who we are than the issue of school violence."
Reporter Judy Muller wondered: "As we bury the time capsule today, we can only wonder what Americans will make of all this a hundred years from now. Will they be appalled that weapons were once so accessible? Will there be stricter gun control laws? Or will it go the other way, with every American family armed and magnetometers in every school? And although our schools, statistically speaking, are still fairly safe places for our children, will that still be true in the year 2100?"
There, in a nutshell, is the very politicized pattern of network TV hatred for guns. Muller can admit that all this fear and all these haunted memories of the year gone by do not reflect the norm, that schools are still "fairly safe places for our children." Actually, they're safer at school than they are at home. Still, they hope that future generations will join ABC in being "appalled that weapons were so accessible."
This network mindset - that guns are evil instruments that no one needs and which ought to be removed from society - is the overwhelming message that TV news junkies get. One doesn't have to love guns (or even own one) to see the authoritarian mindset at work here. Imagine the government declaring that no one "needs" unhealthy items like cigarettes, or fat-loaded fast food, or violent video games. Everyone would see the tyrannical writing on the wall. But the fear we have toward the deadly potential of guns threatens to blind us to the principles at stake. The first principle the media had abandoned here is any concept of objectivity or fairness.
Media Research Center senior analyst Geoffrey Dickens has reviewed two years of gun policy stories on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC, and what he found suggests the networks don't approach guns with the slightest care for objectivity, but with a raw desire to have them regulated out of existence.
Dickens found an astonishing 653 morning and evening news stories discussing government policy toward guns. Stories advocating more gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control by 357 to 36, or a ratio of almost 10 to 1. Evening news shows favored the anti-gun position by a ratio of 164 to 20, or more than 8 to 1. Morning news shows put their thumb down on the scale for the anti-gun position by an astonishing gap of 193 to 15, or 13 to 1. ABC was the worst network on both counts, with "World News Tonight" leaning hard to the left with a count of 43 to 3, and "Good Morning America" handing its airwaves over to the gun-banning lobby with a mind-boggling count of 92 to 1.
This is not unconscious bias. This is an explicit agenda, being undertaken with messianic zeal. The networks don't want to acknowledge that there is any other agenda but the gun-hating agenda. Gun-rights advocates may have their own stories to tell, and their own arguments to make, but they simply won't get a fair hearing on the network news. In all his exhaustive research of two years and 653 stories, Dickens found almost no mention of themes like the decline in federal gun prosecutions under the Clinton administration (eight times) or successful pilot prosecution programs like Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia (three times). In 1997, criminologist Gary Kleck estimated that over 2.5 million people a year defend themselves from an assailant or burglar by exercising their constitutional right to bear arms. But self-defense came up on network TV only twelve times in two years.
Instead, the network news viewer is inundated with emotionally loaded anecdotes. ABC's Terry Moran began one story: "It is the moment every mother dreads and this mother will never forget. After her 18-year-old son, Damon, was gunned down in an elevator, Andrea Slade Lewis joined six other victims and sued 25 gun manufacturers to hold them responsible for, as one lawyer put it, dumping guns like toxic waste into the market." There's the formula: emotional tug, followed by demonizations of the satanic gun lobby.
Liberals cannot admit, despite the evidence that comes in from Columbine High School on down, that evil guns could be banned but evil people will never vanish from the planet. Liberal journalists are taking this simple-minded utopia (guns gone, violence gone), and jamming it down the throats of the public. When will the media ever live up their mission to educate, instead of indoctrinate?