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April 10: Muskogee Police Capt. Scott Shields escorts medics as they load an injured man into an ambulance in Muskogee, Okla. [AP photo]

It’s Sunday, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. This morning, I awoke to hear about a story that made the national headlines – a shooting in a shopping mall in Oklahoma.

How long will we have to wait before the anti-gun people come out of the woodwork, loudly proclaiming that this is all the fault of gun nuts, and if only we passed laws prohibiting the private ownership of guns, we’d all be safer, happier, and better off?

But if you scratch beneath the headline, you’ll find that there’s a bit more to this story than the sensational lead alone. To wit:

Police at Muskogee have cordoned off the downtown Arrowhead Mall after shots were fired inside the shopping center.

Police are looking for two suspects after a fatal shooting Saturday at a shopping mall in Oklahoma, The Muskogee Phoenix reported. An 18-year-old man was killed and five injured in the incident at the Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee. The shootings are believed to be gang related, Fox News Channel said.

Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service was called at 4:24 p.m. after reports of multiple gunshots. Police believe the shots were a result of a gunfight at the mall, Muskogee police chief Rex Eskridge said. Four of the injured victims were taken to area hospitals, while one with minor injuries declined treatment. One victim was taken by helicopter to nearby Tulsa for treatment.

After the shots were heard, witnesses said a loud speaker announcement told shoppers to leave the mail as soon as possible, according to KTUL News. Police evacuated the mall and had the facility in lock-down.

If you look at other sites’ coverage of the story, you’ll see that they play up the violence angle, but conveniently omit the part about how the crime is likely “gang-related.”

It’s called “spin,” people. Think of it this way. Let’s take a scenario, where we put three people in a room, where they can be observed via mirrored glass panels. They sit in a circle, towards the center of the room.

  • Subject #1 grew up with an uncle who owned a reptile house. She handled all sorts and species of snakes as a kid, and can tell the difference at a glance, between a coral and a king snake – and is not afraid of snakes in the least, including the poisonous ones.
  • Subject #2 has been out on nature walks, seen snakes, and knows enough to have a healthy respect for them.
  • Subject #3’s dad died before her eyes, from snakebites. The guy inadvertently stepped into a rattler’s nest and was struck by a half-dozen big diamondbacks. He died on the way to the hospital.

Once the subjects are seated and relaxed, a panel in the ceiling opens, and a snake is dropped into the center of the room.

  • Subject #1 looks over and says, “cool! a garden snake!” She reaches down to pick it up and play with it.
  • Subject #2 sees the snake, is startled a bit, but looks on with interest as Subject #1 picks up the snake.
  • Subject #3 screams bloody murder, immediately goes into hysterics, runs for the corner, and tries to tear a hole in the sheetrock, to get out of the room. She eventually hyperventilates to the point where she passes out.

Unfortunately, most of the mainstream media treats stories involving guns as if the gun is a snake, and they are Subject #3.

Problem is, it’s hard to get to the truth, when you exhibit bias, especially when you don’t acknowledge your bias to the public or to yourself. I freely admit I come at these stories with, shall we say, a “gun-friendly” perspective. To claim anything else would be disingenuous at best, and deceitful at worst. But I do my best to get past my bias (largely by acknowledging it, and then trying to see the other side of the issue). Sadly, the mainstream media exists in an insular world, where they neither acknowledge their biases, nor do they care to examine them, when someone points them out.

You see, everybody has a point of view, and therefore a bias. It’s as inescapable as death, taxes, and the sun coming up in the morning. You can’t exist without it. But you can realize how it affects your perceptions, and then do your best to play fair. It’s probably a myth that the news media has ever been bias free. But in the era before-Watergate, newspapers and television took pains to separate their hard news coverage and their editorials. Facts were facts and opinion was opinion. But post-Watergate, the news media began seeing themselves as not just neutral reporters of fact, but A Force For Good In Our Time, which subsequently gave way to a willingness to influence the story instead of simply reporting on it.

Let’s talk politics, by way of example. When reporters covering the Bush/Kerry election were queried about their own Presidential preferences, an overwhelming number of them professed to be supporters of the Democrats. Now that does NOT automatically mean that their coverage was biased against Bush and for Kerry. But a number of media watchdogs (on both sides of the political spectrum) analyzed news coverage at the time, and found that a decided majority of stories written favored Kerry over Bush. In the 2008 election, even NBC’s Saturday Night Live pointed out how many news organizations chucked objectivity out the window and openly shilled for Obama. I don’t bring this up to suggest that, because of the media’s affinity for the Obama presidency that they would automatically be favorably disposed towards the anti-gun side of the equation, but being pro-gun and anti-“gun control” positions is almost exclusively a halmark of the political Right. (Yes, there are liberals who are pro-gun, and a great number of moderates are, too. But you gotta admit, the number of liberals who are pro-gun is a pretty small number when compared to the liberals who are for “gun control.”)

How does this affect new coverage of shootings and other gun-related stories? I dunno…you tell me. I don’t see MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, HuffPo, Daily Kos, the New York Times, WaPo, and other media outlets bending over backwards to give you both sides of these stories. Say what you will about FoxNews, but they do at the very least take a stab at presenting both sides of the story, especially when they have guests on to cover a story in-depth.

So get ready. I’m sure we’ll get a load of left-leaning stories over the coming days about guns, gun nuts, and how our gun laws encourage this sort of tragedy. And I expect we’ll see the same reporters gloss over the likelihood that the shooters were in gangs, obtained their guns illegally, and that no gun laws on the face of the planet would prevent this kind of thing from happening, since it’s only law-abiding citizens that abide by gun laws.

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