Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the media have come out with guns blazing against firearms and the business that sell or produce them. The broadcast networks’ coverage of the gun industry has been no exception.
Between Dec. 14, 2012, and Feb. 22, 2013, the evening news shows on all three networks attacked the gun industry and gun businesses three times as often as they defended them. Altogether, there were 44 attacks compared to just nine pro-industry interviews and 12 statements in defense of gun business and the industry during the same time period.
While NBC “Nightly News” aired the greatest number of attacks on the gun industry, ABC’s “World News” used the most vitriol. On Dec. 18, anchor Chris Cuomo started off the “World News” with an entire segment on so-called assault weapons. He outlined how he harassed six companies to ask them if they were going to be taking “assault rifles” like the AR-15 off their shelves.
“We’re gonna keep going back to companies and everybody who says they want to make a difference to see what they actually intend to do,” he stated. Cuomo failed to consider that there might be other ways to make a difference besides just pulling a specific gun models from store shelves.
An assault rifle is a military term for machine guns, something that has been illegal for civilians since 1934. Assault weapons, on the other term, is what many media outlets and politicians use to describe the semi-automatic guns Cuomo was actually referring to.
Just a few days prior, on Dec. 16, ABC’s Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas introduced his segment with “facts that might surprise you. There are more registered gun dealers and stores than major supermarkets, more gun sellers than McDonald’s.” These facts, in reality, were meant to scare the viewer.
Pierre concluded his segment somberly, saying “if we stop selling guns today, forever, we’re likely to have this problem for years to come.” Anchor David Muir reflected on the segment by calling it “stunning.”
Pierre and Muir failed to mention other perspectives. They didn’t point out that increased gun ownership actually decreases crime. According to the National Rifle Association (NRA) , while the number of guns owned in America had risen to “upwards of 300 million,” the number of deaths caused by gun accidents had fallen “to an all-time low” of 0.2 per 100,000 people. This was ”down 94 percent since the all-time high in 1904.”
Again on Jan. 25, “World News” maintained its anti-gun theme, blaming guns stores for thefts and referencing them as the “candy store for criminals.”
CBS “Evening News” was not silent about the gun industry either. On Dec. 25, CBS Correspondent Chip Reid reported President Barack Obama’s gun control position and said that gun sales had gone up dramatically. But instead of relating those two facts, that because the president wants stronger gun control people were buying more guns.
He suggested that the shooting “inspired” the purchases. Reid said: “So, ironically, this shooting is inspiring more people to buy this gun, the AR-15 and these high-round magazines,” he stated.
NBC’s “Nightly News” took the most shots at the gun industry, although they weren’t nearly as bad as the other two networks. On Dec. 18, NBC news correspondent Tom Costello went out of his way to specifically call out the Bushmaster rifle, a specific brand of semi-automatic hunting rifle, and claimed the company was losing investors and sellers. “The investment firm with a controlling stake in the company that makes Bushmaster rifle, the types used in the attacks, says it’s selling the company as a watershed event,” he stated.
His one-sided segment also included many people calling for more gun control laws and even victims of Sandy Hook, but with opposite point of view.
These attacks on the gun industry should be no surprise. As the Media Research Center had documented before, since Sandy Hook the media have been on a tirade against guns. In an analysis of network evening news shows between Dec. 14, 2012, to Jan. 17, 2013, the news stories slanted 8 to 1 for Obama’s gun control crusade. Whether its journalists who claimed to be unbiased while making outrageous anti-gun statements, or the nation’s leading newspapers pushing for stricter gun control laws than even our president wants, the media has favored the anti-gun position.
The Business and Media Institute did a Nexis search with the term “gun” of evening news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBS from Dec. 14, 2012, through Feb. 22, 2013. We examined all those transcripts for references of gun shows, gun sales, specific names of guns, or gun sales for our analysis.