Jenkins: CBS report long on anti-gun advocacy, short on facts

By Paul Jenkins |

As time goes by, it is increasingly difficult not to remember a friend’s rejoinder to my question about whether he ever missed the news business after leaving his job as a reporter with a prestigious news organization to take a job in government.

”Miss it?” he answered, laughing. “I’m ashamed I ever had anything to do with it.”

I am not there yet, but if I close one eye and squint, I can see it from here.

There was a time when being a reporter or an editor carried with it a duty to get the news right, to be fair, to tell the truth, the whole story — and to be neutral. I used to tell my journalism students they someday as reporters or editors would have vast power to destroy lives, fortunes and reputations; that such power carries with it responsibility; that journalism practiced correctly is nearly a religion.

That was then; this is now. 

The first cracks in doing it right were camouflaged as “advocacy” journalism. As the idea of telling news readers and viewers what to think took root, journalism changed. Many of the news media abandoned all pretense of neutrality. In the last presidential election, for example, reporters and editors were advising Hillary Clinton, colluding with her, covering for her, promoting her. They became left-leaning cheerleaders.

It is not just Hillary. Anything the left supports, most news media tend to support. The coverage, through conscious decision or unconscious bias, reveals it. Take, for instance, gun control.

A case in point: a CBS News report the other morning headlined “Study: Road rage incidents involving guns are increasing,” based on a report from something called The Trace, which used stats from the Gun Violence Archive. The piece detailed road rage shootings across the nation,  pointing out there were 620 last year. Florida had the most over a two-year period — 146.

Then, CBS went off the rails.

The Trace is a self-described news “reporting and insight” outlet about guns. It is funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg through his anti-gun Everytown for Gun Safety group. He has spent millions trying to gut the Second Amendment and recently pledged $25 million to combat the national concealed-carry movement. Huffington Post co-founder and BuzzFeed chairman Ken Lerer, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, and The Joyce Foundation, a leading funder of anti-gun organizations, also are backers.

The Gun Violence Archive is the latest iteration of unabashedly anti-gun slate.com’s effort to compile a gun violence death toll. From the get-go, GVA’s mythology is highly suspect. It gathers its information from media reports and police blotters.

CBS disclosed none of that to its viewers.

James Burnett, who left The New Republic a few months back, is editorial director of The Trace. When correspondent Jerika Duncan mentioned that Florida has the most incidents, Burnett told her it also has the most concealed-carry permit holders.

She made the expected jump: “Is there a connection between concealed-carry permits and the amount of road rage shooting incidents?” she asked.

“We don’t have decades’ worth of data here, (but) the data that we do have suggests that that might be happening,” Burnett replied.

Let me help. There is nothing, nada, zip, linking concealed-carry permits and road rage shooting incidents. Nothing. Studies have shown those licensed to carry concealed weapons commit felonies and misdemeanors at a rate one-sixth that of cops. They are, by any metric, among the nation’s most law-abiding citizens.

Florida has issued 3 million concealed-weapons permits since 1987, with 1.6 million active today. It has revoked 10,841 permits over the years for reasons ranging from physical infirmity, to mental incapacitation, to convictions for certain crimes — including felonies — to being convicted of disorderly intoxication three times in a year. Only 168 permits were revoked for misuse of a firearm since 1987. That amounts to 0.0055 percent of the total issued. Hardly an epidemic.

In a lame attempt to “balance” the story, CBS contacted Florida gun proponent State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who said guns are not to blame, that road rage is a cultural problem exacerbated by drug use.

The journalistic malpractice in all this was breathtaking.

It took me only a few minutes to find out about The Trace, Burnett, the Gun Violence Archive and get the stats on Florida’s CCWs. Instead of getting the facts, CBS added one more piece of propaganda to the left’s media proxy war on the Second Amendment: “real” news that is “fake.”

Duncan does, at the end, admit, “It is important to note most concealed-carry permit owners don’t engage in road rage shootings.”

No kidding. “Most.”

With each passing day, I do not have to squint quite so hard to see what my friend was saying.

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