Now, note the second part of that sentence:
… even telling the seller point-blank that we probably couldn’t pass a background check.
I invite the reader to watch the video. NBC’s straw purchaser delivers his line while laughing in an unmistakably jovial manner.
Communication is not just verbal, it is non-verbal. The way you act imparts clues about your motives as clearly as the words you chose. Nothing in the NBC straw purchaser’s manner, shown on video, would give anyone pause that he was involved in criminal behavior. Remember: the sale took place in full public view, in a public parking lot with people all around. This is not the setting or action we would associate with criminals or criminal activity (a point we’ll come back to later).
In addition to the non-verbal queues — where the buy was set up and the straw purchaser’s behavior — we have to take into account the connotation. The straw purchaser, having arranged a sale in a public space, having acted consistent with a legal purchaser with nothing to hide (which indeed, he was), delivered a line denoting camaraderie with a laugh.
Was the straw purchaser instructed by NBC to be jovial, or was that determination made on his own? Either way, it’s deceptive journalism.
The next sentence of the report:
Another seller showed up with a tactical shotgun, an assault rifle, and his 7-year-old son. Remember, our buyers could have been dangerous felons!
As mentioned earlier, all sales took place in full public view with people all around. This is not the setting or action we would associate with criminals or criminal activity. If Rossen were truly interested in the safety of children who could have been exposed to “dangerous felons” because of internet sales, his report would not have focused on firearms. Perhaps he would investigate sales from Craigslist and other sites where people have strangers meet them in their own homes to buy merchandise. Unlike Rossen’s faux concern for the boy, Craigslist-type encounters have led to actual robberies, rapes, and murders.
One more point: a 30-pound, five-foot long, single-shot rifle — like the .50 BMG target rifle purchased in the segment — has never been used in a crime in American history. You read that right. It’s simply not useful for criminals.
Making it difficult for criminals to acquire firearms is an issue that the vast majority of American gun owners are willing to discuss, as long as the resulting ideas impose on criminals and not law-abiding citizens. Jeff Rossen does NBC and his audience no favors by purposefully deceiving them. As a journalist, he is committing what should properly be seen as a firing offense.