December 27, 2012

BYRON YORK: Journalists rush to take sides in gun debate. Well, actually they don’t take “sides.” They just take one side.

Should journalists be advocates for tougher gun control measures? It’s a question worth asking as more and more reporters, commentators, and TV anchors are openly promoting stringent gun policies in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

It’s not just the ranters on the left, like MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who recently called National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre “the lobbyist for mass murderers.” O’Donnell is a controversialist who says things like that all the time. So is CNN’s Piers Morgan, who told the Gun Owners of America chief Larry Pratt, “You are an unbelievably stupid man” and “You shame your country.”

More notable are the ostensibly straight-news journalists who have come down on the side of stronger gun control. For example, when a Republican congressman, Georgia’s Jack Kingston, argued on MSNBC recently that tough gun control laws haven’t prevented mass shootings in some European countries, the network’s anchor, Thomas Roberts, responded, “So, we need to just be complacent in the fact that we can send our children to school to be assassinated?”

Earlier, while reporting from Connecticut, a CNN anchor, Don Lemon, burst into an impromptu appeal for action. “We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets,” Lemon said. “They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children.”

Also on CNN, anchor Soledad O’Brien sought a promise from Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott to take action on guns. When Scott declined, a clearly frustrated O’Brien said she hoped the gun conversation would become “meaningful” before she was forced to “cover another tragedy.” A few days before, when a conservative academic told O’Brien he believes having more guns among law-abiding citizens would reduce crime, she responded, “I just have to say, your position completely boggles me, honestly.”

It’s not just television. Twitter conversations among print journalists commonly include passionate denunciations of Second Amendment defenders, especially the NRA.

Don’t be surprised, journalists, if many Americans view you as the enemy as a result. Don’t blame them. You’ve taken sides. When you act as agents for the apparat, don’t be shocked when people think of you as apparatchiks.