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How Obsequious Media Coverage Perpetuates NRA Mythology

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Headlined to H2 1/16/13

There is a more fundamental issue, especially for broadcast media outlets. If coverage of what is going to be a long and arduous gun debate is to be even minimally "fair and balanced," it must feature more voices. And those voices must be accorded at least a reasonable measure of the attention that is accorded the NRA's "pronouncements from on high."

Too much coverage since the Newtown shootings in December has been deferential to the NRA -- as if the group was somehow the victim. Major media outlets have literally scheduled programming around the increasingly temperamental demands of the group, while accepting "no questions" press conferences as serious new events. So it was that Americans were treated to breathless "wall-to-wall" reporting on a press conference statement from the NRA's LaPierre that veered into such bizarre territory international media outlets reportedly felt compelled to warn viewers that what they were watching was not a spoof

Indeed, as a columnist for Britain's conservative Spectator magazine wrote:

"Reading the transcript I thought at first that it must be a parody written by gun-control activists determined to discredit the National Rifle Association. Turns out there's no need to attempt that, not when the NRA is prepared to do the job itself."

The NRA must be covered, and it must be covered fairly. But honest coverage of the gun debate can and should place the NRA in perspective. And that means the NRA's pronouncements should be balanced with coverage of the gun-safety groups that appear to be far more in touch with popular sentiment in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.

The NRA's opponents are not the only ones drowned out by coverage of its ramblings. Read Bryce Covert's reminder about the disparate racial impact of antiviolence policy.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics (more...)
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