Fox News is providing cover for the National Rifle Association as the organization attempts to shift the debate away from implementing stronger gun laws.
In a speech and an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press following last month's school shooting in Newtown, CT, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said that his group would oppose any new gun laws and instead called for Congress to "act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation." His comments were widely panned.
Fox & Friends Sunday host Dave Briggs responded to the criticism by defending LaPierre, claiming that "the mainstream media [is] mocking" the NRA leader. Briggs then suggested that media criticism of the NRA's position was unwarranted because "when you are talking about the mainstream media, it's all in this tiny little bubble up here in the Northeast, [it] has very little representation of most of the people in this country that do make up groups like the NRA."
Beyond Briggs' suggestion that the media should be more representative of the special interest groups it covers, the position of NRA leadership is not largely representative of American views on firearm ownership, or even the views of the majority of gun owners. During a December 23 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, LaPierre stated that the NRA would oppose any new firearms regulations. Meanwhile, public support for bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as mandatory background checks on all gun sales, is strong.
A December 19-22 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 92 percent of those surveyed favored universal background checks. Nearly two-thirds of respondents favored banning high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets, like those used in the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
In August, a CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans support a ban on assault weapons. Nearly all respondents favored universal background checks and 60 percent supported bans on high-capacity magazines.
Even gun owning households support gun violence prevention measures. A January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis found that 81 percent of individuals with a gun in the home are in favor of universal background checks. A CBS News/New York Times poll, also from January 2011, found that 58 percent of gun owning households supported banning high-capacity magazines.
The NRA's blanket opposition to new gun restrictions is also at odds with the views of the organization's own membership. In a July 2012 survey, Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that 74 percent of NRA members favored background checks on every gun sale. Furthermore, a majority of members polled supported heightened requirements to receive a permit to carry a concealed gun and requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to the police.
Briggs' defense of the NRA during the December 30 segment was aided by his guest, The Daily Caller's Jeff Poor, who acknowledged that the NRA "has some PR issues to work out," but then claimed that members of the media who "demonize the NRA, they really stand to hurt themselves" and "damage their credibility further."
The Daily Caller is deeply enmeshed with the NRA. The conservative website has a "Guns and Gear" section that often features the verbatim republication of NRA press releases, opinion pieces by members of NRA leadership, and even calls for its readers to carry out the NRA's agenda. The Caller has also offered its readers discounted NRA memberships and promised to give a free gun to a subscriber who joined the NRA.