Written by Kristine Marsh
Letterman uses propaganda expression 12 times in 3 weeks to push gun control.
The American media have long supported gun control, but they have increased their attacks on the gun industry since the Newtown shooting in December with a careful shift in the language they use. The term is likely to gain even more use following the shooting in D.C.’s Navy Yard.
While the commonplace “gun control” has an aggressive connotation to it, and rightfully so, liberals have attempted to replace it with the softer-sounding “gun reform” to make their agenda more acceptable. And the print and broadcast media have followed suit in adopting the expression. An Agence France-Presse piece, published just hours after the Navy Yard attack, called anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein a “Senate gun-reform advocate.”
The term “gun reform” was mentioned just 25 times in print in three top newspapers – The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post – from 1986- April 14, 2012. From April to December 2012, the term did not make an appearance at all until the Newtown tragedy December 14. After that, the three papers have aggressively used the term at rate faster than ever before. In just the past eight months since Newtown, these three papers have used “gun reform” 23 times, nearly as many times as they had used it in the 26 years prior.
ABC, NBC, and CBS also adopted the politically correct term, using it in 10 different morning and evening weekday broadcasts since January. NBC anchor Ann Curry twice used the expression when asking a Newtown parent about gun control on an Aug. 21 “Nightly News” broadcast. “In the eight months since they last saw their children, Newtown parents have campaigned for gun reform. It passed in two states, Connecticut and Colorado, but failed at the federal level,” she explained. “What was your reaction when the federal legislation failed for gun reform?” she inquired. By contrast, there was only one mention of “gun reform” in the weekday broadcasts since 1996.
“Gun reform” has cropped up all across the media – from CNBC to the “Late Show with David Letterman.” Letterman used the expression 12 separate nights from late April to early May as he openly joined the anti-gun crusade. He mocked one Republican senator as “the Stooge of the Night” during a May 9 skit where he exaggerated gun poll results. “Saxby Chambliss, Georgia senator voted no on gun reform legislation despite the fact that 91 percent of voters in his state, 91 percent of voters in his state wanted background checks for gun buyers.” Letterman even joked that Chambliss “sells ammo door to door.”
More openly anti-gun media have also adopted the term On MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow told her audience that “one Democratic former governor one Republican former governor, Christine Todd Whitman, are urging Chris Christie to go ahead and sign the remaining five gun reform bills” available in New Jersey.
Fellow MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry echoed the term during an Aug. 3 appearance, saying Newtown parents were “bringing their determination along with their broken hearts to Washington, to advocate for gun reform.” In all, the term has been used on five separate MSNBC shows since Aug. 1.
Democrat politicians and radical gun control groups both started using other terms instead of gun control before the media did.
Moms Demand Action publically admitted to The Washington Post in February that it would not use the term “gun control” anymore and preferred to use phrases like “common-sense gun regulations” or “common-sense reforms” instead.
Not coincidentally, in a speech just two months later addressed to the Newtown families, President Obama used a similar phrase to complain that “a minority in the Senate” had “blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.” These statements came after the Senate had voted down the Manchin-Toomey background checks on April 17.
Richard M. Aborn, president of the gun-control group Citizens Crime Commission of New York, told The New York Times that he “prefers to use gun reform instead of gun control.” Aborn, like many of the gun control groups, pitted the struggle for change in gun laws against the strong control of the NRA in an article entitled “Shaping a Gun Reform Agenda That Includes Teenagers and Handguns” from February 24.
The media have joined in the attacks against the gun industry, particularly The New York Times and Washington Post. In an editorial entitled, “The Diversionary Tactics of the Gun Lobby” Times writer Dorothy Samuels blamed the NRA for blocking “meaningful gun reforms” that would’ve prevented the massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne has pushed for gun reform for years in his pieces. One, on March 17, 2011, in which she called for the President to “stand up to the bullies of the NRA” Another piece in April of this year repeated the term.
A Washington Post e-book called “Guns in America” also used the term to describe the actions of the Obama administration. “After the mass shooting in Sandy Hook, the Obama Administration proposed some of the most-sweeping gun reforms in decades,” it argued.
The New York Times ran an editorial on April 14, 2012, attacking the gun industry in a piece entitled “Republicans and the Gun Lobby” that opened with the following slam against the NRA:
“Republican politicians gathering at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis are eagerly pandering to a powerful political lobby that is intent on making the nation’s gun laws weaker and more riddled with more dangerous loopholes.” Later in the article, the newspaper described the aggressively anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, as “a national gun reform group.”
While The New York Times can complain that the NRA has a strong sway in politics in this country, it softened the radical nature of Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (“MAIG”) as being a “gun reform” group.
Yet Bloomberg’s MAIG has made his anti-gun industry views plain in the past:
“I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer for our families and for each other. And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices so the public can really understand the issues then I think my money would be well spent."
But for all the attention the left gives to the money the NRA and gun industry receives, anti-gun groups like the Brady Campaign have received millions of dollars by liberal billionaires like George Soros to push the gun industry out of business.
— Kristine Marsh is a Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.