Don Knotts’ Barney Fife character was a fictional television deputy sheriff who famously carried only one bullet in his shirt pocket, so that he could do the least amount of harm to criminals, the citizens of Mayberry RFD, and not least of which, himself.
Starring on a television network that’s become increasingly famous in recent years for its fictionalized news, David Gregory is a journalist who goes Barney Fife one better, becoming the first man to shoot himself in the foot with an empty gun magazine.
“David Gregory intended to demonstrate on Meet The Press what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws,” Mark Steyn writes in his latest column. “Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever-greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws:”
A week ago on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a “high-capacity magazine” means an ad-stuffed double-issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America’s gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it’s something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. As the poster child for America’s gun-crazed gun-kook gun culture, Mr. LaPierre would probably have been more scared by the host waving around a headily perfumed Vanity Fair. But that was merely NBC’s first miscalculation. It seems a high-capacity magazine is illegal in the District of Columbia, and the flagrant breach of D.C. gun laws is now under investigation by the police.
This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”
So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. “Ignorantia juris non excusat” is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about do-able. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And, in this case, NBC was informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it, anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI and the ATF take out NBC News, and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in “White Heat”: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.
With the help of a Photoshop of Gregory (which I won’t spoil for you, click over to see it), Ann Althouse writes, “I finally figured out what David Gregory displaying that prop reminds me of:”
The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He’d look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.
The scenario didn’t play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He’s not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily. Somebody needs to tell Gregory: We all want the hand. Hand is tough to get.
That last link goes to an episode of Seinfeld from 20 years ago, back when NBC still maintained a Chinese Wall that kept its postmodernism and nihilism in its sitcoms, and (for the most part) out of its newsrooms.
Update: Ace links to Steyn’s column and adds:
Now, the idea being put forth by the media — that you should only be arrested for possessing a gun (or part of a gun, like a magazine) if you have the additional criminal state of intending to commit a crime with that gun (or gun part), is, how can I say this? A radical gun-nut rightwing notion. I think Ted Nugent might very well agree that gun laws should always be limited to situations where guns are used in the commission of the crime or possessed with the future intent of committing a crime.
Read the whole thing.