Yesterday, CBS News interviewed me about bump fire and full auto rifles. Click here or make the jump to see their finished report. TTAG commentators have raised concerns about our decision to work with CBS on their report. Before I address those “don’t talk to the enemy” complaints, here’s the raw footage of CBS’ interview, shot by Dan on his iPhone . . .
First, let me say I had no illusions going in. As a former CNN editor and producer, I know how the sausage is made. While I never did a story about guns, CNN paid me to create this kind of work.
As a pro-gun rights blogger, I also knew full well that CBS’ finsihed “package” would be sensationalistic. That it would fuel the antis’ desire to ban AR-15 bump stocks and, more globally, private firearms ownership.
So why give CBS grist for their mill?
If you give the average TV news viewer a comprehension test after the 2:00 news report above, you’d be lucky to get a general statement. “Bump stocks are dangerous.” That’d be about it.
That’s because they’re not actively listening to the words spoken or the specific information provided. They’re captivated, you might even say entranced, by the images.
Look at the report’s opening: blurred-out faces of people shooting the bump fire stock-equipped rifles, presumably scraped from YouTube. They must be doing something illegal! Look at the last of the opening examples. The shooter almost loses control of the firearm.
CBS had plenty of high-quality footage of responsible people shooting bump fire-equipped guns safely (including our own Jeremy S). They chose those amateur clips to cast aspersions on both the stock and those who use it.
Again, this comes no surprise. The more imporant point: TV news is all about tone, not content.
As media scholar Marshall McLuhan taught us, TV is a cool medium. My job during the interview: present the image of a “cool” (i.e. sane) representative of the firearms community. Someone who isn’t a “gun nut.” Someone who speaks calmly and rationally about guns. And . . . that’s about it.
So I dressed well, spoke softly but emphatically, and carried a big stick. I appeared twice in the report, without appearing crazy either time. Mission accomplished.
And yes, I wanted to get TTAG’s name in front of a national audience.
While a comprehension test probably wouldn’t yield a single non-reader who remembered “the truth about guns,” it’s not entirely impossible. As you know, fence-sitters are more than welcome here. And the interview opens the door to other opportunities to spread the message of firearms freedom.
You may still think I should have given CBS a hard pass. If so, please understand that we’re in a culture war. Pro-gun spokesfolk are a target every time they stick their heads above the metaphorical parapet. But bunkering doesn’t accomplish anything.