Unbelievable: Media Coverage of Mass Shootings Spans the Spectrum

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Largely the Facts

The mass shootings this weekend horrified the country. A few media outlets plated the story straight, reporting what was known from El Paso and Dayton. Other outlets spun the tragedy to fit their political narratives, most attacking President Trump. To give you an idea about the coverage, we’ve captured a sampling from some of the larger or more popular outlets below:

“Often but not always, the shooter has some mental-health issue.”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

29 people were killed and about 50 injured in less than 24 hours” in two mass shootings. “In the Texas border city of El Paso, a gunman opened fire Saturday morning in a shopping area packed with thousands of people during the busy back-to-school season. The attack killed 20 and wounded more than two dozen, many of them critically. Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman wearing body armor and carrying extra magazines opened fire in a popular nightlife area, killing nine and injuring at least 26 people.” AP News

In a manifesto posted online, the El Paso shooter “railed against a ‘Hispanic invasion’ and laid out a plan to divide the United States into territories based on race.” The document also “warns of the dangers of environmental degradation, rails against corporate influence in the government and cautions against interracial marriage.” Washington Post

Meanwhile, while the motive for the shooting was unclear, “the Dayton, Ohio mass shooter was a self-described ‘leftist,’ who wrote on social media that he would happily vote for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, praised Satan, was upset about the 2016 presidential election results, and added, ‘I want socialism, and I’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding.’” Heavy

The Left’s Blame Game

The world, and the West in particular, has a serious white nationalist terrorist problem that has been ignored or excused for far too long… There are serious questions about how the United States has approached Islamic extremism, but if even a degree of that vigilance and unity of effort was put toward white nationalism, we’d be safer…”

“The nation owed a debt to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, to take action against the vile infrastructure that allowed the terrorists to achieve their goals that horrible Tuesday. We owe no less of a debt to the victims in El Paso and to the hundreds of other victims of white nationalist terrorism around the nation.” Editorial Board, New York Times

“You could call the killer who shot up a Walmart in El Paso evil, a madman, or a lone wolf, if you like. But it would be an intolerable omission if we did not also call him a white nationalist terrorist. This ideology is a growing sickness in America, and President Trump has a duty to thoroughly and roundly denounce it.”

“Trump ought to use the bully pulpit to become a leading crusader against white nationalism and racism… just as conservatives regularly call on our leaders to name and condemn the evil of radical Islamic terror when it is behind shootings and bombings, we call on Trump to name and condemn the evil of white nationalism.” Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“[The list of mass shooters] offers a wide range of political points to score, if that is your wish. You will find here immigrants and natives; whites and nonwhites; Muslims and Christians; right-wingers, left-wingers, and the nonpolitical… Despite their diversity, all these killers had one thing in common: their uniquely American access to firearms…”

“It is not because the U.S. is uniquely afflicted with either Islamic extremism or white nationalism that it suffers vastly more gun deaths than the rest of the developed world. America’s uniquely bloodstained record of violence is a consequence of America’s uniquely reckless attitudes toward weapons of mass death.” David Frum, The Atlantic

The End Game Never Changes: Take Our Guns

“Just imagine a world where Democrats get everything leading candidates typically say they want on guns. Congress passes and President Elizabeth Warren signs a comprehensive bill that includes universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a red-flag law that lets law enforcement take away guns from dangerous people…

“It almost certainly would not be enough. We would still likely see mass shootings, like the Gilroy, California, mass shooting, on a regular basis, in addition to the incidents of suicides, urban violence, and domestic abuse that are tragically even more common. That’s because America would still have the weakest gun laws among developed nations, and it would still have the most firearms out of any country in the world — and the research has consistently found that places with more guns have more gun deaths…” 
 
To change the status quo, Democrats should go big. They need to focus on the abundance of guns in the US and develop a suite of policies that directly tackle that issue, from licensing to confiscation to more aggressive bans of certain kinds of firearms… Just like Bernie Sanders helped launch discussions about single-payer and free college in 2016, a push in 2020 could help get the party to where it needs to be on this issue if it really wants to address America’s gun problem.” German Lopez, Vox

Conservative Coverage: The Right Avoids Blame Game

“The truth is that both sides are guilty of overheated rhetoric as they attempt to drive their respective bases to the polls… Yes, President Trump says many irresponsible things and, yes, he should tone down his rhetoric. The president has demonized immigrants as violent criminals, whipped up fear of migrant caravans prior to last year’s election, and railed against both Democrats and his own Justice Department as corrupt enemies of America…” 

“But it isn’t only Donald Trump’s rhetoric that is a problem. Claims that Trump is a stooge of Russian President Putin, that he is a fascist, that he is a white supremacist, and that he will refuse to leave the presidency after his term is up are all examples of things said by the left that could incite violence from Trump opponents. It should not be forgotten that it was only two years ago that a radicalized Bernie Sanders supporter nearly killed a handful of Republican senators as they played baseball.” David Thornton, The Resurgent

“Second Amendment is not a Suicide Pact”

“Mass shootings also occurred under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton… The twisted motivations are varied and often too convoluted to sort into any clear ideology. Take the El Paso shooter, who… expressed sympathy for the racial motivations of the Christchurch killer and denounced Hispanic immigration, but he also raged against ‘unchecked corporations’ who support immigration and pollute the land…” 

One place for leaders to focus, as we’ve long argued, is mental health… Overwhelming evidence suggests that the de-institutionalization of the seriously mentally ill has had tragic results… The same goes for those in the gun lobby who claim that denying access to guns from those with a history of mental illness violates individual rights…”

“The evidence in the states is that the laws have prevented suicides and may prevent other mass shootings. Gun rights need to be protected, but the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact.” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

If Easy, It Would Have Been Done by Now

“We keep hearing the same kinds of anecdotes after a mass shooting. The details change, but the gist is the same. Often but not always, there’s no father in the home. Often but not always, the shooter has few or no friends and nothing resembling a real support network. Often but not always, the shooter is unemployed or barely employed.”

“Often but not always, the shooter has some mental-health issue, sometimes formally diagnosed, sometimes not. Often but not always, the shooter played violent video games. Often but not always, the shooter was active on extremist or Columbine-focused chat boards or had a noticeable interest in or obsession with previous mass shootings. Often but not always, the shooter has gotten in trouble in school or has been kicked out of school.” Jim Geraghty, National Review

Media coverage of mass shootings.
Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
Steve Hartkopf

Steve Hartkopf

Steve Hartkopf is a writer for NRN, a retired executive, a political commentator, and the author of two books. Married to the same wonderful woman for 40 years, Hartkopf is happily playing with and learning from five glorious grandchildren.

NRN • New Right Network
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