Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston appeared on MSNBC Tuesday to discuss the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings. When Kingston said the issue should not be politicized, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts cited Kingston’s “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and asked, “How can you say that politics are not involved with this when we look at a voting record right there where the NRA gives you an ‘A’ in allowing for people like an [Newtown killer] Adam Lanza to have access to the weapons that he had?” Kingston’s response — that none of the measures Roberts mentioned would have prevented the murders and that some European countries have imposed very strict gun control measures only to experience mass shootings — drew a deeply frustrated reaction from Roberts.
“So, we need to just be complacent in the fact that we can send our children to school to be assassinated?” Roberts said.
On Wednesday morning, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott appeared on CNN, where anchor Soledad O’Brien pressed him to express support for stronger gun control measures. When Scott did not go along, a frustrated O’Brien said, “Well, I hope it all goes — all those conversations turn into meaningful conversations before I get to go out and cover another tragedy of which we’ve now done a bunch of them.”
Earlier this week, O’Brien also became frustrated with conservative academic John Lott, who has long argued that the presence of more guns in society would reduce crime. “I just have to say, your position completely boggles me, honestly,” O’Brien told Lott.
Still earlier, another frustrated CNN anchor, Don Lemon, made an emotional appeal for gun control in the middle of a news program. “We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children,” Lemon said.
These aren’t the only instances of news anchors — not opinion-show hosts — have pushed their personal views on the gun control issue. Why such open advocacy? What seems to have happened is that some journalists have assumed that since everyone is horrified by what happened in Newtown, everyone should also be united on what should be done about it, and that what should be done is the imposition of more stringent gun control measures. Guests who disagree can be in for a very public scolding.