2018-02-27 18:00:42 UTC
FEBRUARY 26, 2018 · 3:17 PM ↓ Jump to Comments
CNN Vs. The NRA: Ethically, It’s No Contest
1. Let us begin with this. The National Rifle Association is an advocacy
organization. Advocacy organizations operate exactly like lawyer
representing clients, and their ethical obligations are similar. They must
be loyal to the interests of the object of the representation. They must be
zealous, honest, and they must avoid conflicts of interest. In this regard
all advocacy organizations, regardless of where they land on the ideological
or partisan spectrum, are the same. They have a mission, and a job, and a
duty to do it well. The ACLU exists to be an advocate for absolute integrity
of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth
and Ninth. The NRA has a similar mission regarding the Second Amendment,
because the ACLU has never been zealous about that one. FIRE advocates for
free speech on college campuses, which is often not a First Amendment issue.
NARAL is a zealous advocate for abortion rights, in absolute terms. Most
advocacy groups adopt absolute positions which often seem unreasonable to
moderates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an advocacy group for business—I
once worked for them—and opposed government regulations. The Association for
Justice—I worked for them too–is an advocacy group for plaintiff’s trial
lawyers, and fights any efforts at reforming the tort system, such as
capping damages or punishing frivolous lawsuits. All of these and more take
the extreme position on one side of a controversy to balance other advocacy
groups that take extreme positions in opposition. In this they are very much
like opposing lawyers in a trial, except the public is the jury. This is how
democracy works, and it is the only way democracy can work.
Condemning and demonizing an advocacy organization because one does not
agree with or dislikes the position it advocates is, in my view, exactly
like condemning a lawyer for effectively representing an unpopular
client—and a lot of ignorant Americans do that, too. Citizens have a right
to have an effective organization promote their views and opinions in the
court of public opinion, just as citizens have a right to have a competent
attorney to represent their interests in a court of law. Attacks on this
principle are unsustainable, unethical, and undermine democracy.
2. CNN, and other segments of the news media but especially CNN, has been
aggressively attacking this principle since February 14, when Nicholas Cruz
opened fire. CNN is NOT an advocacy organization, or is not supposed to be.
It is a news organization, and its job and duty is to present facts to the
“jury” without trying to influence it one way or the other. On the gun
issue, CNN has completely abandoned objectify and its duty to inform, in an
unethical effort to advocate for anti-gun interests antithetical to
3. Here is a stunning admission by the New York Times, which has been almost
as shrill in its call for gun bans as CNN, in a front page story (Bolding
To many of its opponents, that decades-long string of victories is proof
that the N.R.A. has bought its political support. But the numbers tell a
more complicated story: The organization’s political action committee over
the last decade has not made a single direct contribution to any current
member of the Florida House or Senate, according to campaign finance
In Florida and other states across the country, as well as on Capitol Hill,
the N.R.A. derives its political influence instead from a muscular
electioneering machine, fueled by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of
campaign ads and voter-guide mailings, that scrutinizes candidates for their
views on guns and propels members to the polls.
“It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A.
board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s
who’s good on the Second Amendment.”
Wait, what? If this is true, and it is, then why did CNN anchor Don Lemon
and guest Joan Walsh keep describing the NRA—not its individual members, but
the advocacy organization, as essentially bribing Paul Ryan with “millions
of dollars” (And why did pro-Second Amendment advocate Rich Lowry never
clarify what the Times did? My guess: He didn’t have the facts himself.
Incompetent advocacy.) And why did moderator Jake Tapper allow a Democratic
Congressman to falsely announce to the audience in CNN’s “town hall” that
“No matter how much money the NRA spends on political campaigns, millions
and millions of dollars spent trying to convince people that representing
the interests of gun companies is more important than standing up for the
safety of the people of America..”? The suggestion that the NRA funds
“political campaigns” is at best deceit that an ethical, neutral, informed
moderator would be obligated to correct.
And why was Tapper silent when one student hectored Marco Rubio, saying, ”
So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a
single donation from the NRA in the future?” and “in the name of 17 people,
you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?” Rubio
receives no “NRA money.” Of course, Senator Rubio, had he not been the
proven incompetent under pressure that we know him to be, could have
specifically debunked the falsehood himself instead of vaguely speaking
about how “people who agree with his policies supporting the Second
Amendment’ contribute to his campaign.” That is where the donations come
from: not the NRA but individuals.
4. Here’s cynically exploited, self-aggrandizing anti-gun
demogogue-in-training David Hogg on Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources”:
But there’s a much bigger problem in Washington where they say they want —
here’s what Dana has been saying as a spokesperson for the NRA. She wants to
continue to pass laws, she wants people in Congress to pass laws that help
out with mental health and things like that and she says she can’t do that.
Are you kidding me? You own these politicians. You’ve passed legislation
that enables these bump stocks, which by the way aren’t allowed at NRA
shooting ranges because they’re too dangerous, that’s how bad they are. But
continuing on with my point. She wants Congress to take action and says that
they won’t. Are you kidding me? She owns these congressmen. She can get them
to do things, it’s just she doesn’t care about these children’s lives….I
agree that the Second Amendment is important, but I think we should have
limitations on it in the same way that we have limitations on the First
Amendment. For example, I’m still allowed to speak here today, I’m allowed
to speak to the press, but I can’t yell fire in a crowd theater in the same
way you shouldn’t be able to get an AR-15 if you’re mentally unstable
Stelter, who continues to debase the concept of media ethics watchdog with
every show—this one began with Dan Rather as a guest…Dan Rather on a program
called “reliable Sources.” Think about that, did correct Hogg earlier, when
he said that Dana Loesch was the CEO of the National Rifle Association, but
he didn’t have the wit or integrity to correct…
“You own these politicians” and “She owns these congressmen. She can get
them to do things.” Loesch doesn’t “own” anyone, and neither does the NRA,
as the Times made clear.
“You’ve passed legislation that enables these bump stocks…” False. There has
been no legislation on “bump stocks,” enabling them or otherwise.
“She doesn’t care about these children’s lives.” This is demonization and
“I’m still allowed to speak here today, I’m allowed to speak to the press,
but I can’t yell fire in a crowd theater in the same way you shouldn’t be
able to get an AR-15 if you’re mentally unstable 19-year-old.” Admittedly,
this is so confused and ignorant that it would be hard for Stelter to fix it
without a 15 minute break. Yet that’s what happens when a child is presented
as an authority worth listening to on a news show. Sure you can shout fire
in a crowded theater, if there’s a fire. Justice Holmes’ much-misunderstood
analogy is something Hogg probably read someplace and doesn’t understand,
although Rather–who was still on hand, nodding—and Stelter should. [Here’s
Ken White’s wonderful exposition on the quote.] Hogg’s analogy is terrible
anyway: one is an example of conduct that is not protected under the First
Amendment when engaged in by anyone, and the other is a specific class of
individuals having their Second Amendment rights stripped from them based on
age and illness, and acceptance of “pre-crime,” a violation of the Fourth
Oh, I know, he’s just a kid. It’s unfair to expect him to comprehend such
nuances and details—except that he’s being used by CNN to attack the NRA
with bad facts and false analogies.
5. Saving the most despicable for last, I give you CNN commentator Van
Jones, who argued last week that a “whole generation of young people”
regards the NRA as the equivalent of the Klu Klux Klan because the
organization “has played a net destructive role for people who are trying
to solve this problem,” adding,
“There is a sense of fear and terror among people who are in elected office
that if they even entertain certain notions that the NRA is going to drop a
ton of bricks on them…we haven’t had the kind of innovation,
experimentation, trying of things—I don’t know of any of the things being
proposed would make any difference at all yet, but we should know more than
we know right now. We should have been able to try things and we haven’t
been able to….You have a whole generation of young people who essentially
see the NRA as their enemy…To them the NRA is like the KKK; it’s just some
hostile force that is against them, that’s risking their lives.”
Jones is a handsome, charming, articulate and reasonable sounding
race-baiter that no ethical news source should employ. Here, he is guilty
Blaming the NRA for the false image of the NRA projected by hostile news
media, like CNN, and dishonest pundits, like him.
This is Cognitive Dissonance Scale abuse and viciousness, linking an
organization to one with the lowest possible scale ratings in order to smear
it. The KKK was a terrorist organization and racist. The NRA is neither.
The NRA can’t drop a “ton of bricks” on anyone. It’s members and other
citizens who do not support draconian limitations on the ownership of guns
will vote against politicians who do. That’s called democracy.
Jones’ logic is historically perverse. As the site Bearing Arms correctly
points out, the original gun control efforts were designed to disarm blacks
in the Jim Crow South….all the better to lynch them. The Klan was pro gun
The NRA is no different from the NAACP, NOW or any other advocacy
organization, except that it is more effective than most. It has extreme and
sometimes irresponsible positions: all absolutist advocacy organizations do.
CNN is contrast, is a journalism and news organization behaving as an
advocacy group…an unusually dishonest one.
And that’s unethical.
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