When National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre isn't pontificating about the purported "massive Obama conspiracy," there's a decent chance he's hurling personal insults and employing other types of overheated rhetoric in pursuit of his political agenda. Some of LaPierre's greatest hits:
- Bill Clinton accepted shooting deaths to advance his political agenda.
- Federal law-enforcement agents are "jack-booted government thugs."
- Gun control advocates are "ghouls."
LaPierre is free to say whatever he wants, but do the media really have to cover his comments? According to the Media Research Center (MRC), the answer yes, even when the NRA doesn't bother to the return its calls.
This morning, the MRC blog NewsBusters posted a critique of Reuters' coverage of a recent investigation of online guns sales by New York City that showed that many private sellers were willing to sell guns to people who identified themselves as unable to pass a background check.
MRC complained there was insufficient gun lobby criticism of Bloomberg in the article:
The next big misstep in this article is its one-sentence dismissal of Bloomberg critics. "The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study."
MRC's message to the media: Print overheated NRA talking points whether or not the NRA gets around to giving you a comment before your deadline.
What should Reuters have done according MRC? Dig through the NRA's website and find the most recently available blog posts written about Bloomberg's efforts with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The blog posts the MRC identifies as appropriate representations of the NRA's views were written before the online gun sale investigation was announced, so naturally, they weren't responsive to the topic of the article.
The first of the two blog posts MRC suggests could have been represented in the Reuters report includes LaPierre's suggestion that Bloomberg could aptly be viewed as a "petty tyrant." The MRC:
In the first post, which deals with an earlier anti-gun address Bloomberg gave to students at MIT, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre made the observation that "Bloomberg should also remember that a 'ruler' (which is what he seems to think he is) that denies the people of their Right to Keep and Bear Arms while maintaining a large 'army' (the NYPD) is apt to be viewed as a petty tyrant, not a benevolent and wise leader."
The second post highlighted by the MRC suggested that by opposing the NRA's favored legislation, Mayors Against Illegal Guns was engaging in a "shameful attack on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans".
LaPierre's history of demonizing those who disagree with him might well deserve more media attention than it gets, but it's hardly essential context for a news report documenting the ease with which criminals can get guns online.