cdc-cnn

(This story originally appeared at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission.)

By Timothy Wheeler, MD

The title of today’s lead story on CNN.com“What Happened to the CDC’s Courage on Guns?” tells you all you need to know about the story. Yes, it’s the latest mainstream media fairy tale about Congress’s 1997 withdrawal of tax money to pay for gun control advocacy at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s full of the distortions, omissions, and gun-hating partisanship we’ve come to expect from CNN. I knew when CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and Supervising Producer John Bonifield interviewed me two weeks ago that they were out to push an agenda, not to report the facts.  After all, CNN long ago soiled its reputation by slanting gun-related news stories . . .

During a 2007 story on semiauto rifles, CNN showed a video of a fully automatic rifle, following the Violence Policy Center’s playbook on how to deceive the public into thinking “assault weapons” are machine guns. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre happened to be in the CNN studios when this outrageous lie aired, and he took the opportunity to expose CNN’s lie “in front of the whole country”, as Wayne put it (see first 2:50 minutes of the video)—“Your reporter faked that story yesterday.”

Let me say this, CNN, in front of the whole country: your reporters faked that story today. In a wide-ranging, hour-long interview Cohen and Bonifield grilled me, couching their own biases in the form of loaded questions to me. It felt more like being interrogated on a witness stand by two hostile lawyers trying to wring a confession out of me.

They took turns asking me long, convoluted questions. These were prefaced by talking points from anti-gun public health researchers, for example, the number of deaths from “gun violence”.  Bonifield went through a detailed narration (an accusatory mini-lecture, actually) of three recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s 2013 conference on firearms research, asking me what objections I had to researching those issues. I listed my objections, which over two years ago had been published in National Review. Not one word made it into today’s CNN article.

With their circling back to the same questions, their scolding in the form of recitations of gun prohibitionists’ arguments, and their insistence that I agree with them on some small point of their position (funding should be restored, of course), it became clear that Cohen and Bonifield were trying to hound me into saying something, anything that they could use to discredit me.

Cohen asked me for examples of research that I claimed had been ignored by public health researchers, findings that show benefits to gun ownership. I started going through the list—Wright and Rossi, Kleck, Lott, Lizotte—in Part III of my history series.  Bonifield stopped me about halfway through and went to another question. Not one word made it into today’s CNN article.

A few days after the November 30 interview Elizabeth Cohen requested further details for her story:

From: Cohen, Elizabeth [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2015 3:45 AM

To: Timothy Wheeler <drgo>
Cc: Bonifield, John <>; info@drgo.us
Subject: Re: CNN inquiry: CDC gun violence research

Dear Dr. Wheeler,

Thank you for giving us so much of your time the other day – we really appreciate it.

Thanks also for this link [she had asked me for a link to the CDC’s publication “Public Health Policy for Preventing Violence”]. I’ve now had a chance to read it. You mentioned it as an example of the CDC’s bias towards gun control. The authors mention guns many times in many different contexts. Specifically which part of this article in your opinion shows the authors’ bias?

Many thanks.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Cohen, MPH

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

—————————————————————-

From: Timothy Wheeler  <drgo>
Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 10:41 PM
To: Cohen, Elizabeth
Cc: Bonifield, John; info@drgo.us
Subject: RE: CNN inquiry: CDC gun violence research

Hello Ms. Cohen,

  • page 13—“After passage of the 1977 Washington, D.C., restrictive licensing law that prohibited handgun ownership by everyone but police officers, security guards, and previous gun owners, firearm suicides and homicides declined by 25 percent.”—The cited Loftin study, another New England Journal of Medicine article, has been thoroughly criticized for its methodological problems. You can look these up easily, but the main flaw was that the authors neglected to account for the rapid decrease in D.C.’s population as people moved out during the study period. As a result, as one analyst put it in this critique http://rkba.org/research/nejm/nejm-payne.html , “According to Loftin’s numbers, adjusted to a per-capita basis, the District’s post-ban benefit vanishes altogether.”
  • page 14—Exhibit 3: “Restrictive licensing of handguns” is listed under “Strategies for Preventing Violence”.  Would the authors recommend “restrictive licensing” for CNN’s news broadcasting, or for attending church, or to gather at a political rally, or for any of our other enumerated civil rights?
  • page 19—Exhibit 5: “Strategies For Preventing Firearm Injuries” includes “Owner liability for damage by guns” (this theory has been used to justify proposals forcing regular American gun owners to buy expensive liability insurance for a virtually nonexistent risk, if “damage” means injuries or deaths caused by crimes); “Combination/ electronic Locks on guns” (a deadly impediment to timely use of a lifesaving self-defense tool); “Reduce magazine size” (again, a potentially deadly limitation on the usefulness of a self-defense gun); “Ban dangerous ammunition” (as if there’s any other kind); “Restrictive licensing-for example, only police, military, guards, and so on-(we discussed this in the interview); “Increase taxes on guns” (unconstitutional social engineering—taxing a civil right with the stated intention of limiting its exercise? Really?); “Prohibit ownership” (blatantly unconstitutional then and now. We talked about this one in the interview.)
  • also on page 19—comparing auto accident injuries and deaths to those attributed to firearms. They are not at all comparable. Auto injuries are almost all accidental, and firearm injuries are almost all intentional. Safety measures devised to prevent accidents will not prevent suicides and murders.
  • Nowhere do the authors give even the slightest hint that firearms are used for lawful self-defense, and that this use saves lives, prevents injuries, and protects property. Even though most of the definitive criminological research that would prove that was two years away, they still should have been aware of this as at least a possibility that any unbiased researchers should acknowledge. As it turned out, that research in the next decade would prove their approach misdirected, with multiple studies showing that Americans use firearms at least 700,000 times each year in self-defense.

I hope this clarifies why I cited this CDC document in my congressional testimony as evidence of the CDC’s anti-civil rights bias, which its leaders had already admitted to in their public statements.

Now that I have pointed these problems out, will you include them in your story?

Thank you,

Timothy W. Wheeler, MD

Director

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation

—————————————————————-

From: Cohen, Elizabeth [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2015 12:46 PM

To: Timothy Wheeler
Subject: Re: CNN inquiry: CDC gun violence research

Hi Dr Wheeler,

Thanks so much for this!

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Cohen, MPH

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

Apparently Cohen wasn’t all that interested in my answers to her questions, because not one word made it into today’s CNN article.

The most damning evidence of the CDC leaders’ intent to advance the cause of gun control was several comments they made in major media at that time. In 1989 CDC official P.W. O’Carroll was quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association as saying “We’re going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths. We’re doing the most we can do, given the political realities.” He later retracted the comment. His successor at the CDC’s Injury Prevention and Control division, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, was quoted in a 1994 Washington Post article as wanting his agency to create a public perception of firearms as “dirty, deadly—and banned.”

And the most central, dramatic evidence of CDC misconduct in the 1990s was the anti-gun newsletter put out by the Trauma Foundation. This newsletter, which we have described in detail here, was funded by a grant from the CDC. We showed it to Congress in our testimony. It figured heavily in Congress’s decision to defund gun control advocacy at the CDC. And not one word of it made it into today’s CNN article.

But here is the worst part. There was no reason for Cohen and Bonifield to even know about the Trauma Foundation. After the CDC newsletter scandal, it faded into obscurity and appeared in few if any media reports of the last 20 years. But Cohen and Bonifield interviewed and then extensively quoted Trauma Foundation director Andrew McGuire, printing his profanity-laden tirade against gun owners in their article today. How did they know about him, other than through my interview?

It’s all but certain that Cohen and Bonifield used my interview material about the Trauma Foundation scandal to contact McGuire for still more anti-gun rights perspective in their story. But they completely buried what I told them about the illegal CDC-funded Trauma Foundation newsletter.

Cohen, Bonifield, and CNN management should be ashamed. These two presented themselves to me as reporters, but are in fact unabashed political advocates. They took my good-faith first-hand description of almost unknown details of CDC misconduct and instead of reporting them, used them to further cover up that misconduct.

CNN wasn’t the only media outlet recently to bury the CDC misconduct story. The Crain Communications business website for health care executives Modern Healthcare ran a story on the recent Congressional push to restore funding to the CDC. Modern Healthcare reporter Steven Johnson asked me for the interview, and I told him all of the details—the embarrassing quotes from O’Carroll and Rosenberg, the incriminating Trauma Foundation newsletter, all of it.

Johnson only quoted my general statement, “If the public is allowed to know exactly why Congress defunded the CDC’s gun research, (the public) will continue to prevent the CDC from using tax money to advance gun control advocacy.”  And then incredibly, he declined to tell his readers any of those details.

Selectively covering up relevant facts, playing down others, routinely giving preference to one side of a political debate, abusing the trust of a news source—I will leave it to my readers to see how many principles of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics that Johnson, Cohen, and Bonifield violated this week.

I will also reassure DRGO’s readers that this isn’t over yet. We have started getting the details of the CDC gun research scandal out in a big way. More details are forthcoming soon. Stay tuned to drgo.us.

(This story originally appeared at drgo.org and is reprinted here with permission.)

[h/t DrVino]

44 Responses to Where’s CNN’s Journalistic Ethics?

  1. First, Santa ain’t real. Then CNN can’t be trusted. What next? Alex Jones has found a cold and cynical way to get rich and famous exploiting the gullible conspiracy nutters?

    • Re: CNN, look up on youtube about the cnn green screen use for desert shield coverage, also the little man on the boat. CNN is pure visual trickery.

      Alex Jones found a whole new way to spin the Martha Stewart business model. He sells things to “support his operation” as any good entrepreneur should. He’s also very careful to check the validity of claims made over his broadcast. That written, he definitely has agendas and plays on-air tricks, and definitely don’t bring up his possible 41k/mo divorce settlement… The man struts and cries more convincingly than Glenn Beck, that’s for sure.

    • 100% agree. This whole blog post is TLDR.

      Everyone knows (or should know) that CNN is pure leftist liberal garbage that SPIN’s “News” everyday. I need no examples at this point.

    • Most excellent!! The Matrix is real. “The Rape Of The Mind, The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide and Brainwashing” Written in the 50’s. The book is on kindle for $4.00.

  2. Journalistic Ethics? That must be something like honor among thieves. What a joke. It doesn’t exist. Journalism is a fake and a fraud, and always has been. There’s no room and no need for ethics when people are dealing exclusively in propaganda.

    Journalism is a means of selling something, nothing more. And people are finally — finally! — starting to get that.

      • I would go way back to the days of Randolph Hearst and his “yellow” daily rags in which he puffed up demand for the Spanish American War (i.e. an excuse for fat cat Wall Street merchant bankers to get even richer by enslaving third world workers in the Caribbean and the Philippines). A Marine general once remarked that he spent his career acting as a gangster for Brown Brothers in Central America. Americans are largely spared the truth of the way their government works. They don’t realise they are hated throughout the world precisely because of this ignorance. The damage done by American corporations is truly horrific. American individuals, on the other hand, are nearly always charming and obliging. But the way their nation impacts on the world is anything but. And you have lazy, lying reporters to thank for not knowing that.

  3. Expecting any in the media or government to give gun owners “equal treatment” or “honest debate” is not reasonable.

    The simple reality is we dont NEED to engage in a war of ideas with these people. Every single time the left proposes gun bans, gun restrictions, or even hints at the idea, gun sales soar. They aren’t soaring with most of us, we OWN tons of guns already. Its the very same leftist non-gun owning democrats and “regular people” that are buying them like crazy.

    Our side’s case is won as long as that continues.

  4. CNN, FOX, MSNBC – any and all of them have agendas. I get less biased info from Al-Jazeera and OAN, but even they have axes to grind. It’s difficult to get credible information despite living in a so-called Information Age.

    Unless we can experience things firsthand, everything must be taken with many grains of salt.

    • The mainstream masses pick “news” outlets that feed them what they want to hear. If there were a clean, unbiased news source it’s ratings would be trounced by MSNBC and FOX, among others.
      Too bad. The founders recognized an unfettered press as a necessary check on government. Instead we have political cheerleaders and the results speak for themselves.

  5. I like the term “Assault Media” let’s keep using it. I think it is fair to say that Dr. Wheeler was “assaulted” by these people. Or perhaps the truth was assaulted. Either way the term fits.

  6. My 2 cents worth, CNN was never worth following anyways.

    Also, the mildly amusing “assault media” label you guys use is a nice solidarity with “assault rifle” term they like to use. However, I believe at this point in our fight for the bill of rights and our enumerated amendments, a much more accurate label would do.

    Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

    It seems that they are not even bothering to cover their lies with deception anymore and are content to crank up the volume at this point.

  7. Hey, just a proposal to the editors:

    I love when you publish stuff like this, but would you mind putting a call to action in?

    Like, say, a phone number/email address, and a specific time (XX:XX GMT/ XX:XX EST/ XX:XX CT XX:XX MT XX:XX PST) to hammer them? It chaps my ass they do this yet my effort alone probably won’t be enough. I like being a member of the armed intelligentsia, but I’d also like to be a member of the mob for civil liberties that chases hacks with pitchforks, torches, tar, and feathers.

  8. The left has succeeded in taking a right of the people and framed it as a safety question. E.G:

    — Would a federal assault weapons ban save lives or cost lives?

    Would banning the use of certain words in the English language save lives or cost lives??

    Would banning the printing of certain ideas save lives or cost lives??

    Would skipping past a court verdict and going straight to execution save lives or cost lives??

    Would arresting people based on evidence and presuming them guilty until proven innocent instead of innocent until proven guilty save lives or cost lives???

    They really are crazy and think the second amendment should not be a right and that we are somehow the enemy.

    They look only at the cost of lives instead of all other aspects. There is more to life than just safety. Many people died so that we can enjoy the rights that we have. The moral desicion is not less freedom. I reject and do not believe, that we as individuals, shouldn’t have the responsibility to look out for our own safety. A free people embrace responsibility. We are citizens and adults – not children to be nannied.

    • A free people embrace responsibility. We are citizens and adults – not children to be nannied.

      Some of us are. Too many are not, wanting government to tuck them in at night. Nevertheless I never thought I’d see Americans embrace flat-out Facism so quickly. Just throw a few terrorists into the mix and suddenly we’re keeping secret lists, talking of banning things including perhaps certain religions and destroying the 5th amendment like it’s Charmin.
      Need to whack another constitutional right? Lets just re-implement a terror warning system and get the fear level up again. ( Oh look, it’s NTAS! bend over, here it comes…)

      • The secret lists are nothing new, they’ve been around since the PATRIOT act was enacted, probably longer than even that, but people are just now starting to see how it could affect them personally. Our country has been warming up to fascism because of fear for some time now.

    • We were fighting in a war in which the American people did not want to fight and the Vietnamese people themselves did not want to fight. There’s no winning when there is no will to fight.

      • Well…there were sufficient numbers of VN people who wanted to fight. It’s just that except for a few notable units and places (Xuan Loc, etc.,) those people didn’t happen to be in ARVN.

    • No, he lied about that as well. During the Tet Offensive, he proclaimed it a “bloody stalemate”. It was nothing of the sort. The NVA/VC suffered crushing casualties, about 10:1 against the US/South Vietmanese forces. The VC were virtually finished as a fighting force for the rest of the war. The NVA had to do most the fighting for the rest of the war. The Communists failed to hold any territory(which was their objective).

      By lying, Cronkite helped cost us the war, resulting in a loss of a prestige for America, and a dictatorship for South Vietnam that has combined Soviet style totalitarianism with mafia style corruption to this day.

      • Well, there was always the option of trusting the Vietnamese and accepting the results of the 1955 plebiscite, which Ho Chi Minh (whom the USA had supported financially and with armaments throughout WWII) won fair and square. There should have been no Viet Nam war.

        Instead, and as usual, the USA supported the most vile, despicable despot they could find, and put him in charge. The USA has NEVER suported democracy in ANY part of the world in which they have had any political or financial interests. Look at the Devil’s list of tyrants backed by the State Department throughout history. A worse rogue’s gallery of torturers and mass murderers could not be imagined.

        Instead the USA created a war and a “Domino Theory” to back it, and tens of thousands of US soldiers died for no purpose. And very, very few journalists ever sought the truth. Until Daniel Ellsberg, they had no facts to work with. Even Robert McNamara could no longer support the war effort after the futility became plain. Why Johnson was never indicted as a war criminal is a mystery, and Nixon should have been excluded from public office once his character became apparent, before he assisted Senator Joe McCarthy.

        Perhaps the political structure of the USA, where most politicians come from the same masterclass of Ivy League Brahmins who populate the banking world and the State Department, who work together to exploit the poor of the world and control the output of the media, is the real problem. There is no true democracy (America is proud of being a Republic, with little real knowledge of the difference) and those who know where the bodies are buried are powerless to tell the truth.

        Until Joe Public understands the criminal conspiracies which drive the American political and governmental circles, and enrich the Wall Street banking system, and is able to dismantle the cabals which operate them, there is no hope that America will ever be a positive influence in this world.

        • “Why Johnson was never indicted as a war criminal is a mystery”

          JFK, OTOH, would have escaped because he was dead. And the supposition still exists that he would still be alive if he had not decided to pull our 13,500 troops out of Vietnam. That theory requires the assumption that his own family and Francis Cardinal Spellman were complicit in his murder, which I have never gotten along with, but feel free.

  9. I’m pretty sure that when it comes to guns and journalism these days, journalistic ethics (and quite a few other things, like hard factual data) are out the window. It’s embarrassing how much BS makes it’s way around the news, social media, etc. just to support the administration’s gun control agenda.

  10. An excellent read. If proper standards were upheld I would expect journalists should be the professionals, providing a complete, thoroughly cited perspective on issues. Unfortunately, the standard of journalism falls far below journalistic professionalism, below what I’d write in a casual email to a friend. It falls below what Dyspeptic Gunsmith would post as a comment on this website. Looking at what Dr. Wheeler wrote here and the corresponding CNN article, it feels as if two student journalists from the public grade school are interviewing a professional adult. They don’t know what to do with the thoughtful answers, and end up just printing a line or two that reveals little out of an hour of good material. In this case, I am disgusted at the way they cherry-picked what he said in order to present an extremely weakened Guy Fawkes effigy of his argument in order to discredit him. They used the mildest CDC quotes along the lines “gun control may be one of the potentially useful violence-reduction strategies we should assess the value of”, and the strongest quote from Dr. Wheeler to look like he was a bloviating pro-gun “extremist” harshly condemning the CDC for only the most milquetoast cautious advocacy of gun control rather than for the mountain of damning evidence he discussed that CNN decided not to include in the article.

    I would only agree to be interviewed by media I suspected to be biased if allowed to bring my own camera and microphone to have an uncut record of the interview, a defense against my words being twisted. In this case, I might have enjoyed and possibly benefited from hearing the full hour interview of Dr. Wheeler in the hot seat defending his position with his muscular intellect and erudition against the parroted talking-point arguments of these two ignorant simpletons.

  11. Thanks for this. I hope cnn keeps pulling this kind of stuff. One hopes sooner or later enough people read about it, and eventually they have no credibility with anyone.

  12. What’s happening to the American public and how most media capitalizes on it reminds me of “Gladiator.”

    “I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death – and they will love him for it”

  13. The fundamental error being exercised here is that anyone at CNN (Communist News Network) is an actual journalist. Look the word up. See americanpressinstitute.org

  14. And then let’s look at the CDC as well. In the 1980s, Congress charged the CDC with looking into a baffling illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis throughout the civilised world. ME has been accepted as a neurological condition by the World Health Organization in Switzerland since 1969. Yet is still not accepted in America, largely because of the efforts of the medical health insurance industry.

    Instead of using the multi million dollar Congressional appropriation to properly study CFS to find a cause and a cure, the CDC simply STOLE the money and used it for other purposes. The man who did this was mildly censured, then promoted. He currently runs the CDC.

    All the senior staff at the CDC have multiple income streams, and only receive a minority of their income from their government salaries. They receive far more money, either directly or indirectly, from the medical health insurance industry. So who do you think they serve? This is a government body, whose members have been suborned by private business interests directly in conflict with their duties to the US public. Anywhere else in the world this would be denounced as corruption, but somehow in the USA this is business as usual. And the same applies to your politicians. The thousands of lobbyists trolling through the Senate and Congress are not visiting out of curiosity. They are stuffing money into suitcases for your politicians to put into offshore accounts and to spend on blow and hookers. And you trust your politicians?

    America coud be the finest nation on earth, and it would be if the guidelines from the Founding Fathers had been honored. Instead it is ruled by money and greed, and ignorance and fear. Knowledge is power, and the duty of the American press is to prevent you from having either. They serve their masters well. Those masters are not you, the public, but the paymasters who try and gild the turd that is the America of today.

    If you watch CNN, you are paying to be lied to. Do you think this is wise? How much stink are you prepared to live with?

  15. Another excellent read is another article that showed up in The Federalist that covers all the reasons why the CDC got slapped and not funded for Gun Control Advocacy (“Research”) for any anti to get some knowledge dropped on them…

    http://bit.ly/1lRVYJw

    “Why Congress Cut the CDC’s Gun Research Budget”

  16. ” Where’s CNN’s Journalistic Ethics?”

    If their head was tonsils-deep in their a_ _ , they still wouldn’t find it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *