Question of the Day: Should We Talk to the Anti-Gun Press?

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Earlier this week The Trace ran an article on the looming horrors that are bumpfire stocks. To their credit, they called our own Nick Leghorn to get the 411 from someone who actually knows something about firearms. That’s more than we’ve come to expect from, oh, the New York Times or the WaPo. But as you might expect, The Trace’s scribe cherry-picked the bits that best supported his premise: bumpfire stocks are dangerous because they make the equivalent of full-auto fire inexpensive and accessible. The Trace’s writers have approached other pro-gun sources for other articles. For example . . .

Michigan Open Carry’s president, Tom Lambert. One of The Trace’s “journalists” wanted to talk to him about Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and what the writer called, “the strange spectacle of a Republican governor vetoing several pieces of gun-rights legislation during his tenure.” Tom was understandably reluctant to talk to them. When he expressed his doubts – given the fact that The Trace is a Bloomberg-funded anti-gun agitprop generator – the writer defended his site this way:

The Trace does have seed money from Bloomberg’s group, but I am a diverse and seasoned journalist whose work has appeared in The Daily Caller and National Review….

MOC’s head honcho sees talking to gun grabbers with bylines as a no-win proposition … giving aid and comfort to the enemy, people who would restrict and revoke Americans’ Constitutional right to armed self defense. And confiscate their guns if it ever came to that.

We take the stance that we’ll talk to anyone who wants to talk guns, any time anywhere. We record these interviews ourselves, taking the old Russian advice to trust, but verify. If our words are twisted or taken out of context, we’ll let the world know. Do we have it right? Should we talk to the opposition when they call?

comments

  1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

    Just be careful what you say. Like talking to a lawyer on the opposite side of a case you are on. Shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

    1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

      On second thought, I guess it doesn’t matter how closely you watch what you say.

      RF: “Regulations that make it more expensive, risky, or difficult to legally own firearms are bad for individual liberty.”

      Quote: “…firearms are bad…” admitted Robert Farago, editor of a leading gun blog.

      1. avatar Tom Lambert says:

        That is exactly what I was thinking.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      The answer to this question is really quite simple – ask Rush Limbaugh why he stopped giving interviews to the press or on TV. He mentions it from time to time on his show, or at least has done so regularly in the past: These reporters don’t like you, they are not your friend, and they have an agenda. No matter what they say to get the interview, their agenda takes precedence and they will extract from whatever information you give them only such quotes as support that agenda, or they will take things you say out of context to support their agenda.

      It is a fair certainty that NOTHING you say in those interviews will be used in any way to actually educate their readers in the pro-gun concepts that we hold dear and will at every opportunity be twisted to support the anti-2A position and make POTG look foolish and/or dangerous.

      Speaking to these reporters does no significant good for our cause and only gives them an unearned patina of respectability and unbiased reporting which we know is not the case but their readers may not recognize.

      1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

        Speaking to these reporters does no significant good for our cause and only gives them an unearned patina of respectability and unbiased reporting which we know is not the case but their readers may not recognize.

        Excellent point.

      2. avatar Jimmy says:

        +1 Well said. Fool me once…shame on you…fool me twice…shame on me.

    3. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      Really, you should talk to them only if you have complete editorial control over the finished piece. If you can review the finished article and approve or disapprove it, then you might talk to an enemy journalist. Otherwise, don’t. It’s entirely likely that the gun-grabber journalist won’t give you that kind of control over the article anyway, so that’s just a handy way of saying no.

  2. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    I don’t see a point since there is no convincing the opposition.

    If you do, record every interview and post the audio in its entirety online. If they refuse to be recorded then decline the interview.

    Full transparency.

    1. avatar ShaunL. says:

      Agreed with emphasis on “post the full audio online”. THAT specific detail is the only way you have ANY credibility with dissenters. No proof = It didn’t happen.

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      What do you mean ‘if they refuse to be recorded’?
      Concealed means concealed, right?
      It’s not as if anybody has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a news interview, is it?

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Some states require all parties must be aware recording is happening, others, just *one* of the parties must be aware…

        1. avatar FedUp says:

          I think in this instance the First Amendment trumps all state laws. A news media interview is most definitely a 1A event.

          Also, if the reporter is openly recording, then everybody is on notice the conversation is being recorded.
          Just like when you call customer service at American Express and the system says ‘all calls are monitored or recorded’ before it connects you to a human, everybody knows that call is recorded and you can record at will.

    3. avatar William Burke says:

      ABSOLUTELY this: they aim to claim victory by making us look bad. No thank you, I don’t talk with fork-tongued demons. And more.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        ANY more. The edit button disappears in a heartbeat these days. What’s the purpose of something you can’t use?
        Get rid of it altogether. It’s the honest thing to do.

  3. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    It’s your website, of course you are right.

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    Even if you limit statements to pure measurable data they’ll still spin it.
    All they have to print is “spokesman for so and so org said …guns…” and you’re done.
    Does more harm than good to talk to them.
    Better time spent taking fence-sitters to the range and normalizing friends and family to a state of liberty.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      True. All true, unfortunately. But shoot and be of good cheer! Somebody’s got to do it.

  5. avatar Chuck in IL says:

    I suppose that heads of gun rights organization and writers of the most trafficked gun blog have an obligation of sorts to talk to the opposition. But understand they are just that, and they’re looking for a way to trip you up. Trust but verify indeed. As for the average citizen, especially one who has been in a DGU, the press is your enemy, avoid them.

  6. avatar Rokurota says:

    Yes. By all means talk. As you saw, they’ll spin your words, so be on guard. And don’t expect anyone who prints the Trace’s propaganda to listen when you play your recordings for them, though.

    By the way, an individual cannot be diverse. Back to J school for you: http://lexicide.com/diverse-and-not-to-be-excluded-diversity/

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      Oh, I dunno–George Zimmerman started out as “white”, then the pictures came out and he was seen to be Hispanic, so he then became a “white Hispanic”–sounds pretty diverse to me…

  7. avatar Steve says:

    I see very little reason to try and talk with anyone who mind is made up that guns are bad and that people who like guns are either stupid or crazy. If they want to go to the range with me, I will gladly take them, let them shoot my guns and help them to have a good time. That’s the only way you’re ever going to make any headway.

  8. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Treat the Anti press just like a wise herpetologist handles a ‘hot’ (IE, venomous) reptile.

    Meaning, *very* carefully.

    I thought Leghorn handled ‘The Trace’ just fine. He applied his piloting mindset that the airplane was trying it’s damnedest to kill him, and not to let it.

    1. avatar Chrispy says:

      When you said herpetologist I was thinking a specialist in a specific sexually transmitted disease…

      Their level of caution would likely be equally as high though!

  9. avatar wlitten512 says:

    Yes, talk to them. You are unlikely to sway them but they won’t as easily be able to say that gun rights supporters are a bunch of isolated nuts, talking to each other in an echo chamber, unwilling to interact with outsiders.

  10. avatar Stinkeye says:

    Maybe you should insist that any anti-gun journalists who want to talk to you have to meet you at a range and shoot a few guns themselves. That seemed to work out okay with that Farrow guy from NBC.

    1. avatar Joe Liberty says:

      +1 billion.
      People are scared of the unfamiliar. Take that away and they tend to be more open minded.

  11. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    A friend of mine used to be a pastor in Georgia. He was always careful about press interviews because they always distorted what he said.

  12. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    By the way, Michigan Open Carry always talks to local media and participates in interviews. The Trace, though, is on a whole other anti-gun level.

    1. avatar Tom Lambert says:

      Exactly Dan. There is a difference between spinning news and propaganda.

      I’ve even talked to the New York Times, but I saw no benefit in talking to The Trace.

  13. avatar Roscoe says:

    Better to not educate these oft ignorant propagandists. Let them stew in their own ignorance because they will misquote and lie by omission no matter what you tell them. Educating them just helps them sound more knowledgeable when they spout their rhetoric.

    They won’t change, so I wouldn’t do anything to help them sound like they actually know anything about that which they speak, nor give them opportunity to use the name of a knowledgeable pro-gun persona to cite as an informed source.

  14. avatar TTACer says:

    “I am a diverse and seasoned journalist”

    Who doesn’t speak English. Just to clarify in case he reads this, if you take out the second adjective, you are left with “I am a diverse journalist,” which might be grammatically correct in the country of “What?” but not in English.

    1. avatar Joe Liberty says:

      What ain’t no country I ever heard of!
      Do they speak ENGLISH in WHat?!

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “What?”

        BLAM – BLAM -BLAM -BLAM -BLAM -BLAM!

        Poor Brad.

  15. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    Tell them you’ll talk to them if they agree to go to the range for a couple of hours for some hands-on experience. Then do what you said you do (record the interview, etc., etc.).

  16. avatar SpeleoFool says:

    If we don’t talk ever to antis then we’re only talking to ourselves, and that strategy is guaranteed to lose the culture war.

    I agree with the other sentiments here–expect your words to be taken out of context, twisted and used to support preconceived anti-gun ideas and agendas. Recording interviews is a good idea, as is posting the audio in the event your words are grossly misappropriated.

    That said, I don’t see much problem with the bumpfire article. Sure it has an overall negative spin to it and could be used by antis to say, “see, even gun guys think these are dangerous and useless, so we can totally ban them.” However, it also calls attention to the existence of guns as a hobby and the linked and embedded videos show people having fun shooting. Some will be disgusted by that, some will be intrigued.

    1. avatar Joe Liberty says:

      +1 to this.
      Sitting in an echo-chambering filter bubble does little good for anyone involved.

      If someone on the other side reaches out and is shot down (no pun intended), then they get to print that TheTruthAboutGuns refused to comment. Makes us look guilty, paranoid, isolated, any number of negative adjectives.
      Certainly mistrust on our part is warranted. But I would agree that bringing others into the fold, even blatant antis, and showing them our GunCulture2.0 is the way to go.

  17. avatar Gunr says:

    Better to remain quiet, and be thought of as a “Fool”, than to “speak”, and remove all trace of doubt!

  18. avatar Yellow Devil says:

    Only on-camera interviews with a visible clock in the background…

  19. avatar Mr. AR-10 says:

    No. These people are not interested in any sort of real journalism, nor are they interested in truth and will only use what is said when it is to their advantage.

    These people also fight dirty, and while I don’t advocate doing the same thing ourselves, we have to understand what that means. They will use trickery, fabrication and worse whenever given the chance.

    Don’t give them any chances. There is nothing to gain here, unfortunate but it is true.

  20. avatar Galtha58 says:

    Talking to groups that spew propaganda and ignore the facts seems like a losing proposition to me. They will likely pick out phrases to incite their followers and make the pro-gun person they are talking too seem like some kind of radical gun nut. Talking to someone that is neutral on the gun issue or a true unbiased news source (if there is such a thing) is good and should be encouraged. But talking to those that are hell bent on restricting our rights does not make much sense to me.

  21. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Yes, I think we should talk to anti-gun journalists under the condition that we can record the interview as you stated. That way, if the journalists claim that we stated something that we did not say, we can nail them for it.

    In the worst possible case, anti-gun journalists will do their best to present our message in the least favorable light. If we provide a truthful and wise response, there isn’t much to twist. Sure, hardcore gun-grabbers will see whatever they want in our words. Other people will/are starting to see the truth. What is the saying, something like, “A liberal gun-grabber becomes a conservative gun-rights supporter immediately after being the victim of a violent crime.”?

  22. avatar trever says:

    Of course you should talk to them. Just be sure to record your conversation in its entirety. If you are misquoted, post the transcript &/or audio here and reach out to them publicly for a correction.

  23. avatar Ron says:

    The leftwing extremist press is going to distort the facts and outright lie whether you talk to them or not. They’re so intellectually bankrupt that they actually don’t perceive two sides to the question, and think gun-rights supporters are stupid and stubborn. As a result, they don’t feel any obligation to be fair or refrain from inventing “facts” for their propaganda pieces.

    Talking to anti-gun “journalists” will not change their mind or what they write, so why waste your time and risk inadvertently giving them some tidbit they can twist and distort?

  24. avatar pres stone says:

    just like RF stated in his other article asking what we thought about him meeting MDA, if all you do i sit in a echo chamber preaching to the choir NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE. its amazing how many people on here simply don’t understand that logic. expecting someone to change their own mind on something they know nothing about or have been mislead about, is FOOLISH. we must converse with them to show them our reasons for armed defense are rational, necessary, lawful, and good-hearted, contrary to what they are told about us by others.

    1. avatar Ron says:

      The question isn’t whether we should or shouldn’t remain silent, it’s whether we should talk to closed-minded writers who will misrepresent what we say to support their preconceptions.

  25. avatar Accur81 says:

    Tell the truth and record it. If the antis lie, tell the truth about that, too. The truth is on our side, so fling it far and wide! It’s not like anti-gunners can’t look up TTAG articles and comments as it is.

  26. avatar Clark45 says:

    The problem with talking with them is that they will most likely distort the conversation. The problem with NOT talking with them is that they will say we “refused to be interviewed,” or similar, thereby implying that we have no legimate argument. We can’t win with them, at least when we let them control the output. Wish I had some brilliant ideas on dealing with the anti-gun press. Let’s keep at it, offer up facts when & where we can, stay calm, & keep fighting.

  27. avatar Matt says:

    I’d say sure so long as they agree to publish a transcript or recording of the conversation along with an article at which point you publish the same exact transcript or recording. Any discrepancies between your version, theirs, and the article would be immediately available to the public.

  28. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    “It depends.” The thing is, if you remember everything they do is a propaganda op, you can choose wisely. Sometimes you talk to them; when you know how doing so will net benefit what you want. Sometimes you don’t.

    /Let us think like Uncle Saul on this…
    Remember, also, your choices are never limited to the ones they “give” you. Talk to them as an interview for one of their articles, or not? What about a press release stating: “Journo-hack’s article completely misrepresents interview … transcipt and recording attached.” would be lovely. Put it on the interwebs with the right search tags, and that fact becomes part of any number of additional conversations.

    Before the fact, how about a press release: “TTAG Staffer to be interviewed for Journo-hack’s article on guns: solicited as source of facts about guns. Will also make case *for* guns.” That kinda constrains their actions / ups the consequences for various kinds of bad action.

    Hey, disagree with me all you want. Assigning straw man arguments to me … not OK, independent of how popular this tactic is. Grossly misleading abuse of quotes, well we’re not playing nice any more, are we? Thus; “Ethically-challenged hack what’s-his-name commented on his misleading twisting of quote from our interview as follows: ZZZZZZ.”

    BTW, there’s tons of latitude here.

    – By injecting himself into the story, he becomes a public figure. Higher threshold of “liable.” Also, the truth or a reasonable, refutable assertion of facts as understood by a reasonable person is a complete defense.

    – It’s public policy. So, first-amendment protections.

    – Satire protection. “Diverse and seasoned journalist whats-his-name advocated for guns in schools, full-auto, or equivalent behavior via bump-fire stocks.”

    As they say, “Politics ain’t bean bag.” Also, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

  29. avatar iowaclass says:

    Getting your name and location out there with an opposing viewpoint is always good, because then you are just a google-search away for people who are skeptical of the party-line, or at least curious about opposing views. I have found good sources by seeing them mentioned in hostile sources.

  30. avatar Dean Carpenter says:

    It is after all a free country. You can beat your gums, you can beat your meat but you can’t legally smoke dope in Tejas.

  31. avatar Ironbear says:

    “We record these interviews ourselves, taking the old Russian advice to trust, but verify. If our words are twisted or taken out of context, we’ll let the world know.”

    And there you go.

    In this day of (relatively) inexpensive body cameras, cameras, camera and video phones, voice recorders… there’s no reason to not just tell them: “Sure. Happy to be interviewed. Be advised, however, I will record this independently and put the full version up on youtube, pod casts, and transcripts out on the web so that people can see where (or if) you cherry picked or misquoted me to support your own premises. Is that a problem for you?”

    And then follow through.

    If the distortions between the full interview and the cherry picked quotes (eventually) become dispersed enough, and common enough that everyone can see them – then the faster that type of interviewing and selective quoting will be discredited along with the so-called “news” media involved.

    And then they’ll either change tactics or stop interviewing you.

  32. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Actually it is best not to talk to them and let them conjure up their hysterical and error filled stories on their own. You might want to pick a media group that is pro or at least gun neutral.

  33. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    TTAG has a lot of reach. I do not. Talk to the anti-jerks if you so desire. I have no such desire…

  34. avatar David says:

    You should always be biased towards the interview, just get their permission to record it ahead of time as a condition of the interview. If one journalist keeps coming back to you for interviews, invite them to the range. Create some cognitive dissonance. Maybe do a few blog posts on taking gun-grabers to the range and planting some doubt in their minds.

  35. avatar The Defenders Team says:

    You can’t avoid talking to the anti-gun people. But be sure to limit your statements along to those like, “Democrats are absurd, ignorant about guns and dangerous to our country.” I can think of 8-10 different ways to say that. Problem solved.

  36. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunniess says:

    So did the journalist plan to disclose his Bloomberg finding along with the article? If so you could prolly trust him IF YOU TAPE IT !

  37. Always take the interview imo… We don’t care if we convince them, we care about their readers/viewers who will never know about TTAG unless they see some calm, reasonable guy making educated statements about firearms and goes to check out his site.

  38. avatar Ryan says:

    TTAG, if you can’t walk the talk, at which you apparently make your living,…what good are you?

  39. avatar Roy says:

    It may be too soon to tell if it’s a good idea or not. They definitely cherry picked the sound bites from Nick’s mouth to print to fit their agenda. It’ll be worth trying out for a little while. I’d actually be more comfortable talking to a newspaper that has broader coverage of all news versus one whose journalists can only print anti-gun rhetoric.

  40. avatar racer88 says:

    I’ve done it and it was a good experience. Yeah, “N=1.”
    But, I was ready. I didn’t get the questions in advance, so I could not rehearse. But, I had my own “talking points.” And, just like a politician who “stays on point,” I did. If you don’t say anything they can use to advance their agenda, no amount of editing will create an “out-of-context” misquote.

    I would suggest if you are not comfortable speaking publicly, then engaging in media interviews is probably not going to go well. But, if you ARE comfortable in front of a camera and the public, AND you know your stuff… You only need to speak very intentionally (and stay on point).

  41. avatar Dustin says:

    You’ve got it 100% on the money. Talk to anyone who wants to talk about it. Record it so you can call them out when they lie.

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