An honest account of media misinformation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy has to take into account Rupert Murdoch’s tweet about the need to ban “automatic weapons,” when none was used to kill any of the 26 people. Can the chairman of News Corporation, the parent of Fox News, be this ignorant about the nature of gun laws and guns in America?
He asked, “When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” He urged Obama to exercise “bold leadership” on the issue.
Deep inside his story about the comments, Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine noted, “Despite Murdoch’s plea, automatic weapons are already illegal in the United States; Adam Lanza [the killer] used semiautomatics.”
In fact, automatic weapons are not technically illegal but are subject to extensive regulation and are very difficult to obtain.
One interesting aspect of this controversy is that left-leaning reporters such as Dylan Byers of Politico publicized Murdoch’s comments without correcting him. Others followed suit. “Rupert Murdoch demanded tighter gun control in the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut,” reported The Huffington Post, without noting that his remarks were inaccurate and the “gun control” he talked about was already in effect.
This is fascinating because, in the past, liberal media have tried to claim that Fox News personnel spew misinformation about current events, leading to a lack of knowledge about important matters of public policy. Here is a case of the owner of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and other properties saying something that is completely erroneous and irrelevant to what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.
But why would liberal publications not want people to know that Murdoch was in error? There are several possible explanations:
- They do not understand gun laws, either, and didn’t realize Murdoch was wrong.
- They don’t care that Murdoch was wrong and wanted to use his mistaken comment to spread misinformation to the public about the killings.
- They know Murdoch was wrong but wanted to use his comment to send a message to Fox News Channel hosts and commentators that they should get on the “gun control” bandwagon with their boss.
Some conservative-oriented news sites did correct the media mogul. “Early news reports indicate that automatic weapons were not used in yesterday’s school shooting,” Breitbart News reported, in a brief story about Murdoch’s comments. Indeed, no evidence of automatic weapons being used has turned up. Twitchy Media noted, “Closer attention to the reports coming out of his media properties would have informed Murdoch that automatic weapons weren’t used in today’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.”
Also oblivious to the facts, Malcolm Turnbull, who reportedly knows Murdoch, replied by saying that the politicians would act when pressured by the media and that “I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it.”
This, then, is why the comment is getting so much attention from the left. The political progressives saw it as an effort to send marching orders to the conservative news channel to back Obama’s controversial call for more legislation.
Media Matters, the George Soros-funded left-wing organization, jumped on the comments, contrasting Murdoch’s “Call For [A] Weapons Ban” with how Fox News Channel commentators supposedly were guilty in the past of “Extreme Pro-gun Rhetoric.” The “rhetoric” consisted of comments in favor of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
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