Have you seen all the high school kids on cable TV recently, especially on CNN? Students of the Florida school where a mass shooting took place last week have become the new face of the gun control movement and news networks and activists are eating it up.
The push has been explicitly partisan. Student Cameron Kasky told anchor Anderson Cooper Friday, “Everything I’ve heard where we can’t do anything and this is just out of our hands—it’s inevitable, I think that’s a facade that the GOP is putting up.” He continued, “I think that that’s what they want us to think. I think that after every shooting the NRA sends them a memo saying send your thoughts and prayers. Say let’s not talk about this now. Say this happens.”
CNN’s favorite face may be Emma Gonzalez. She’s been highlighted on the CNN homepage several days in a row. This weekend she gave a lengthy gun control speech at a vigil and CNN published video of the entire speech on YouTube and offered readers a full transcript on their website. Here’s a sample:
Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.
We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.
Perhaps what’s most striking is how closely some of her points seem to mirror talking points tweeted out a couple days earlier by, wait for it, CNN. It’s almost as if CNN is feeding the students information for the events it then covers as the authentic voice of the students:
• In Florida, you don't need a permit to conceal carry a rifle or shotgun, although you do need it to conceal carry a handgun
• You can buy as many guns as you want at one time, because Florida doesn't regulate that eitherhttps://t.co/EGpPSeO0g5
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2018
This morning, CNN featured Gonzalez and another student on air again for another unchallenged, partisan discussion of gun control. Host Alisyn Camerota opened the segment by excitedly pointing out that CNN’s video of Gonzalez’ speech had been viewed “about 20 million times” on the network’s Facebook page. Camerota then offered both students a chance to attack Marco Rubio followed by a chance to attack President Trump, who noted on Twitter that the FBI had failed to respond to a tip about Nikolas Cruz.
Student David Hogg said, “My father’s a retired FBI agent and the FBI are some of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever seen in my life. They work every day to ensure the lives of every single American in this country.” He continued, “It’s wrong that the president is blaming them for this. After all, he is in charge of the FBI. He can’t put that off on them. He is in charge of them. And these people, what they love to do is push this off on the bureaucracy and say it’s not them. He [Trump] is in charge of the FBI, that’s one of the executive branches. The executive branch is supposed to enforce laws and, as such, President Trump is in charge of that and the FBI.”
I’m quoting this at length to point out that it really makes no sense. The FBI admitted that it failed to follow its own procedures for referring tips to the local field office for further investigation. This is a very consequential mistake, not a distraction. The FBI had a full month to look into Nikolas Cruz and that time was squandered. Even a minimal effort to contact the family Cruz was living with might have put them on alert.
In any case, no responsible person thinks what the FBI did here was okay, including the Attorney General who has already ordered an investigation. As for Trump being the head of the executive branch, what does that have to do with anything? Trump isn’t being sent tips on every disturbed former high school student who might attack a school. That’s not his job. This oversight isn’t his mistake, it’s the FBI’s.
Instead of pointing any of this out, CNN moved on to the next question which just happened to involve a CNN town hall event that both students will be participating in this week. After promoting the televised town hall, CNN moved on to a discussion of a planned march on Washington for gun control. But you don’t have to watch the clip to get that because CNN has published a story today about all the various gun control marches students are promoting/involved with:
Students who survived the shooting in Florida are also planning to protest in Washington, D.C. on March 24 at an event organized by March For Our Lives.
“Here’s a time to talk about gun control: March 24. My message for the people in office is: You’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” junior Cameron Kasky said Sunday…
I don’t expect a high school junior to know that this “with us or against us” formulation has a distinct history in recent American political life. But I suspect if anyone over 18 had said that on just about any issue, CNN would be pointing out that this was once considered problematic. But CNN seems to be purely in promotion mode. In fact, the same article contains this:
CNN is holding a nationally televised town hall with the victims’ classmates, parents and community members.
“Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” will air live at 9 p.m., ET, on Wednesday, February 21 at the BB&T Center.
Is it odd to anyone else that a CNN news story about student gun control efforts features a segment promoting CNN’s own town hall event? Is CNN reporting here or promoting an agenda? This is reminiscent of MSNBC sending Rev. Al Sharpton to cover the Trayvon Martin case, even as he was acting as an activist in the situation. At CNN, the line between covering this story and promoting a very partisan political agenda has become very blurry over the past week.