I don’t always agree with Brian Stelter, but I think he’s one of the few journalists on shouty-headed CNN that does his job. The Reliable Sources email thingie hits an essential issue on gun debates:
“Criticism of policy positions is one thing… But the conspiracy theories and smear campaigns are out of bounds. Some of the memes and YouTube videos allege that some of the students are “actors” who are just props for a globalist gun grab. Other posts accuse the students of being insincere “anti-Trump” shills.
“Throughout the day on Tuesday, I tried to reason with a few of the people who sent me this nastiness. I think I just made them angrier. I kept wondering: If so many people are being poisoned by these lies that are spread via social media, what’s the antidote?
“I don’t think “ignore it” is the answer
“One common response is “ignore the crazies.” I heard this a lot on Tuesday: “Don’t give it any oxygen.” But when newsrooms ignore these alternative narratives, aren’t we failing the public? I’m thinking about the casual Facebook user who barely knows who Alex Jones is, but who sees a conspiratorial post pop up in her news feed, because it was shared by a family member. Then she sees another post. The basic message is “The media is lying to you, these kids are George Soros plants, they’re taking away your rights.” She’s not inclined to believe it, but she has suspicions about the press already, and she’s not seeing any rebuttal from any of her media-savvy friends. There’s no link that explains how and why these people are spreading lies. There are just more lies…
“This is all connected to the “fake news” plague of mis- and disinformation, of course. These problems are continuing to get worse. Conversations about solutions often come up with long-term answers: More news literacy. Better algorithms. Fine, we can talk about long-term solutions — but what about tomorrow? What’s the antidote to this poison?”
The NRA and their shills are not going to talk about the issues, because the public is not on their side (various polls this morning show super-majorities of Americans are in favor of gun controls, bump stock bans, etc.), so instead they are (for lack of a better phrase) killing the messengers.
And as a means to compare/contrast, Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) goes long on defending why the Republicans are so resistant to these super-majorities:
“AFTER EVERY TRAGEDY, Washington plunges into a discussion about entering into what many believe to be a common-sense debate: should Congress enact tougher regulations on guns?
“THIS DEBATE NEVER GETS OFF THE GROUND. We spoke with several senior Republican aides and lawmakers yesterday afternoon so we could explain the dynamics. We’re not adopting these positions — we’re merely trying to explain what Republicans would say if put on truth serum:
[Ed. — Republicans telling the truth? Unpossible!]
“MANY REPUBLICANS FEEL LIKE THEY GO HOME to their safely red district and interact with constituents who are gun-toting NRA members — many of whom show up to barbecues, fundraisers and political events carrying a weapon. Multiple Republicans told us they have held events at high-end shooting ranges.
[Ed — In other words, they are the prisoners of their own gerrymandering. They cannot do anything because they will be primaried from the right.]
“FORGET THE MONEY that the NRA gives — it’s relatively inconsequential compared to other industries, and it’s a lazy explanation for the position that many Republicans hold.
[Ed. — As we will see in a moment, that is a line of BS.]
“But many GOP voters exist in a media environment where they read the NRA’s magazines, pay attention to their scorecards come election time and wonder if the long arm of the U.S. government will come get their guns.
[Ed. — the GOP Voters are prisoners of Fox News and Hate Radio? I think that’s what they are saying.]
“MOST REPUBLICANS exist in a climate in which their only political fear is a primary challenger on the right. To these Republicans, national polls mean squat. Getting on the “wrong side” of the gun issue would be going soft on guns — that’s the way to lose a primary election. Few of these Republicans believe they’ll lose an election by not supporting stringent gun regulations.
“CONSIDER THIS: In the House — the more conservative of the two bodies — 36 lawmakers sit in seats that elect Republicans by an average of 20 points or more. If you start looking wobbly there on any core issue — which lawmakers say is immigration, abortion and gun rights — you could be looking for a new job.
“THEN THERE’S THEIR ARGUMENT that new gun laws wouldn’t do much. Ban assault weapons? Well there are plenty on the streets now. And if you ban assault weapons and someone shoots up a school with a pistol, then what’s next? Will the government move to make pistols illegal. How about tightening background checks? Many Republicans will tell you the laws in place now aren’t being enforced as they should be. Why add new regulations?
[Ed. — This is the NRA and Fox News nexus: why bother with any laws? And this is where the NRA blood money comes in: their lobbyists are writing the legislation. And because the Republicans control all branches of Congress and the White House (and one could argue the SCOTUS) and set priorities of who gets money and other resources to enforce existing regulations, then that failure is on them.]
“FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH … MANY REPUBLICANS we spoke to believe the media has lost all objectivity on the issue of gun control.
[Ed. — more shooting the messenger.]
“OF COURSE, DEMOCRATS SAY all of this is lazy and morally reprehensible. Doing something, they say, is better than nothing. And public sentiment will catch up with the GOP, they say.”
[Ed. Say it with me, kids: BOTH SIDES!]
This entire TBOTP dither is spin. Tiger Beat is often accused (by me, anyway, and others like Brother Pierce over at Esquire) of being nothing more than spin, and this is another example.
Methinks that they are protecting access to their sources.