Networks Herald Obama Throwing Down 'Political Gauntlet' on Gun Control

The NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows on Monday all touted President Obama seemingly calling for more gun control during a Sunday night vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. NBC's Today provided the most hype as correspondent Lester Holt proclaimed: "While he offered words of comfort, he also laid down a political gauntlet....sketching the outlines of what amounted to a policy statement on gun violence."

Holt acknowledged: "He did not utter the words 'gun control,' but his message could set the stage for such a debate." Speaking to co-host Savannah Guthrie later on the broadcast, Holt observed: "He didn't talk specifics, Savannah. But you got the sense that he was laying down a political gauntlet, saying perhaps it's time now to look at this issue of gun violence from all perspectives, political risks laid to the side." Guthrie replied: "Well, we'll see what happens when lawmakers get started in January with the new term."

ABC's Good Morning America was more subtle in it's coverage of the President's remarks on the shooting, but news reader Josh Elliott did convey: "President Obama was not specific about what he'll do to prevent similar tragedies. But political insiders predict tightened gun control will be a major priority in his second term." Co-host George Stephanopoulos declared it to be: "A bracing call to action from President Obama right there."

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Jeff Glor noted that Obama "spoke as a weary leader," explaining moments later: "I think a lot of us were surprised by the call for change, and we were talking about this. I think it's certainly very possible that at this point it becomes an unexpected priority now in his second term."

Later on the show, Glor further remarked: "...remember the President did not talk about the gun control issue at all on the campaign trail and now he is." Co-host Gayle King replied: "I'm hearing in the town last night they were saying they hope that the President will now speak up and that he will use the bully pulpit and lead to some change." Glor observed: "The President did not address the issue after Aurora happened in July." Co-host Norah O'Donnell added: "Or in Tucson after Gabby Giffords."

During a report on gun control during the CBS morning show, White House correspondent Bill Plante pushed the President from the left on gun control: "President Obama said last night he would use all the power of his office to prevent a repeat of the tragedies like the Newtown massacre. The President supports renewing the ban on assault weapons, but he ignored the gun control issue in his first term. And when he ran for president in 2008, he tried to reassure gun owners."

Here is a transcript of Holt's December 17 Today report:


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The President wrote these remarks himself and I can tell you it contained a more forceful call to action than even some close aides had expected.


GUTHRIE: NBC's Lester Holt is here with more on that. Lester, good morning to you.

LESTER HOLT: Savannah, good morning. A tough weekend, the community needed the President to come here. He met with the first responders, the families. But the speech he delivered is not the one that many people expected. For while he offered words of comfort, he also laid down a political gauntlet. For the fourth time since taking office, President Obama stood before a community shattered by mass murder to offer words of comfort.

BARACK OBAMA: I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief.

HOLT: The President called last Friday the worst day of his presidency. And this time he came with more than words of consolation. The President, sketching the outlines of what amounted to a policy statement on gun violence.

OBAMA: Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have?

HOLT: He did not utter the words "gun control," but his message could set the stage for such a debate.

OBAMA: Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?