Great Moments in Anti-Gun Advocacy ‘Journalism’ – 2023 Edition

by Tommy Grant

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By Lee Williams

The Trace, the propaganda arm of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s antigun empire, recently published their picks for “The Most Memorable Gun Violence Journalism of 2023.”

If there was a Pulitzer Prize category for gaslighting or agitprop, the 14 stories highlighted by the Trace would all be serious contenders.

CNN leads the list, of course, with their entry “Gun violence has affected most families in the US, new survey finds,” which was published in April. CNN’s journalists based their story on data from the long-debunked Gun Violence Archive.

“Mass shootings have escalated in recent years, reaching a record pace in 2023,” the story states. “There have been at least 146 incidents so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, leaving more than 200 people dead and hundreds more injured.”

Any data from the Gun Violence Archive, as we have shown numerous times, is about as reliable as a $20 Rolex. Keep in mind the GVA claims there were 417 mass shootings in 2019. The FBI says there were 30, because it uses a much narrower and realistic definition.

This year, the GVA claims there have been more than 72,000 shootings, of which 636 were mass shootings — an average of more than 1.7 per day.

Rolling Stone tried again to reenter the world of investigative reporting with “Mass Murder Is a Choice. The Gun Industry Made It,” which was published in November. The Trace said the story provided a “highly detailed, historical look at AR-platform rifles, shedding light on how the gun industry has marketed these weapons in ways that appeal to mass shooters.”

“The mass murder in Lewiston was a tragedy, but not an accident. It is a choice. And it’s one that the gun industry made, and has doubled down on — pushing tens of millions of massacre-ready weapons on the American public,” the story states.

Massacre-ready? Really?

The last time Rolling Stone tried its hand at serious investigative reporting it failed miserably. Journalism schools still study the magazine’s infamous “A Rape on Campus,” series, which falsely accused members of a college fraternity of gang rape. The Columbia Journalism Review called the series “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.” Other journalism thinktanks were less kind. The left-leaning Poynter Institute named the Rolling Stone story one of its “Errors of the year.”

This is Rolling Stone’s investigative pedigree.

The New York Times was lauded for its “Army Ammunition Plant is Tied to Mass Shootings Across the U.S.” which we debunked in November.

Everything you need to know about the newspaper’s “investigation” into the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant is summed up in the story’s secondary headline:

“In recent years, the factory has also pumped billions of rounds of military-grade ammunition into the commercial market, an investigation by The New York Times found, leaving the ‘LC’ signature scattered across crime scenes, including the sites of some of the nation’s most heinous mass shootings.”

In other words, mass shootings are not just the fault of the mass shooter. The ammunition manufacturer bears responsibility as well…or so the newspaper would have you believe.

As we pointed out in our story, the Biden-Harris administration chose to target ammunition manufacturers as part of their war on guns, so they turned to their loyal sycophants and stenographers at the Times to write a hit piece about the storied Lake City Plant, which has been making ammunition since World War II.

The Washington Post published actual crime scene photos from 11 mass murders in a photo essay titled, “Terror on Repeat: A rare look at the devastation caused by AR-15 shootings,” which was published in November.

In a sidebar, in which the newspaper attempted to justify their use of overly sensational and graphic photos, the Post’s editors claimed the AR made them do it.

“Like other news organizations, we cover the effects of these tragedies when they occur. But because journalists generally do not have access to crime scenes and news organizations rarely if ever publish graphic content, most Americans have no way to understand the full scope of an AR-15’s destructive power or the extent of the trauma inflicted on victims, survivors and first responders when a shooter uses this weapon on people,” the story states.

The Post’s photo essay took the gun-ban industry’s penchant for blaming an inanimate object rather than the murderer pulling the trigger to new lows. Also, there’s a key point the editors missed: All crime scene photos are shocking and disgusting, regardless of the type of weapon used. By far the most graphic crime scene photos I’ve ever taken involved cuttings not shootings.

Bloomberg News’ contribution to the Trace’s list is still a head-shaker. Its story, titled “How the US Drives Gun Exports and Fuels Violence Around the World,” blames SIG SAUER for a mass murder at a nursery school in rural northeast Thailand, which left 36 people dead.

“The killer’s gun, a Sig Sauer P365 — touted by the company as small enough to easily conceal yet able to hold 13 rounds — had traveled more than 8,000 miles from a factory on New Hampshire’s rocky seacoast to Thailand’s lush Nong Bua Lamphu province. It was part of a growing number of semiautomatic handguns and rifles exported by American gunmakers and linked to violent crimes,” the story inexplicably states.

About the only thing factual in the story was the disclaimer that Bloomberg News publishes every time one of their staffers writes about guns:

Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates gun-safety measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Takeaways

The 14 stories selected by The Trace have much in common. They’re long on opinion and short on facts. They make some cheap, sensational claims which aren’t supported. The stories editorialize and attempt to persuade. They do not inform. They’re designed to influence public opinion with emotion rather than reason.

There’s another commonality: Most of the stories were published late in the year during the height of awards season. Journalists want their stories to be fresh in the minds of contest judges, who start reading entries early in the year. When a newspaper releases an investigative series in November or December, it’s clear it’s their annual contest entry designed to win awards. Journalism is one of the most self-congratulatory industries on the planet. Careers are made or lost based upon the number of awards a story can bring home.

It’s too bad none of the scores of journalism contests out there yet offers a fake news category. If one did, the 14 stories chosen by the Trace would be sure award-winners.

 

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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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