Study: Network News Spinning Gun Control Debate

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Network television news programs are giving gun control advocates added ammunition in their battle for more restrictive anti-gun legislation, according to a new report released today.

The two-year, in-depth study of network newscasts was conducted by the Media Research Center, parent organization of

Pro-firearm advocates are "outgunned" by gun-control advocates who have the networks on their side spinning the debate, according to the report.

The analysis covered 653 morning and evening news stories on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC and found that news programs are more than twice as likely to feature guests and use sound-bites from those advocating stricter gun control.

According to the study, reporters often ignore successful efforts to control the criminal use of guns such as the highly touted program in Richmond Virginia called Project Exile, a cooperative effort between local, state and federal officials to prosecute criminals using gun in the commissions of a crime.

The study was conducted by MRC's senior analyst Geoffrey Dickens who said pro-firearm positions were rarely exhibited in the newscasts.

Dickens recommends that networks present "more debates and fewer lectures, take time to explore pro-gun themes in an effort to balance their anti-gun tilt, and provide factual context instead of emotional anecdotes to let viewers make up their own minds."

"Too many gun policy reports focus on emotional anecdotes, with reporters repeating loaded terms like 'toxic waste' to describe guns," Dickens' report contends.

"Over the last four years, network reporters and producers have been scaring their viewers with a bleak picture of an America under the gun," the report concludes. "In their search for an antidote to what they've termed an 'epidemic,' more often than not they've offered gun control as the cure to the problem."

MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell chided the network news programs for hitting a "new low in journalism" by becoming the public relations arm of the gun-control movement.

"There is no way to look at these numbers and not conclude that network news broadcasts have become the communications division of the anti-gun lobby. The networks have clearly chosen sides in this debate which only serve to mislead and misinform the public they're supposed to serve," Bozell said.

Bozell was accompanied at a news conference today by former Marine Colonel Oliver North, host of MSNBC's "Equal Time" and board member of the National Rifle Association.

North chided the national media for not doing more within their right under the First Amendment to address the issue of individuals' rights to defend themselves under the Second Amendment.

"In the Marines, they taught us that firepower would win the day. They should have also told us about the power of the press to reshape the battlefield to the advantage of the attacker.

"Many have long suspected that much of the media have been serving as the heavy artillery for the Clinton-Gore Administration's assault on the civil liberties protected by the Second Amendment," North added.

North said the study released today is "confirmation of that belief. There is a powerful and pervasive bias in the media, particularly in television, on the issue of firearms."