Michael Bloomberg
Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Have you ever heard of The Trace? It describes itself as the “only newsroom dedicated to reporting on gun violence.” It has slick digital packages that are chockfull of stories, photos and videos, so it’s easy to confuse the Trace with an actual news website.

But a news website it is not.

The Trace was founded in 2015 by former New York City mayor and staunch gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg.

The Trace operates as the propaganda arm of Bloomberg’s anti-gun empire, which includes the astro-turf (not grassroots) groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demanding Action, which the New York City billionaire also bankrolls.

Like his other groups, the Trace advocates for more restrictive gun laws, but their message is a lot slicker than the handmade signs carried by Demanding Moms and Everytown employees.

The Trace’s work resembles actual news stories. It was designed that way.

As a result, the legacy media frequently cites The Trace as a legitimate news source without disclosing that it is a gun-control propaganda factory financed by Bloomberg.

The relationship between the Trace and the legacy media got even murkier recently, thanks to the Columbia Journalism Review – once a respected and well-regarded journalism think tank.

According to its website: “CJR’s mission is to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism. It is the most respected voice on press criticism, and it shapes the ideas that make media leaders and journalists smarter about their work. Through its fast-turn analysis and deep reporting, CJR is an essential venue not just for journalists, but also for the thousands of professionals in communications, technology, academia, and other fields reliant on solid media industry knowledge.”

About a month ago, CJR convened a panel discussion “from across the industry to talk about how to improve gun-violence coverage in the country.”

“We’re here because we have a sense that the way we cover guns needs to be rewritten,” CJR Editor in Chief and Publisher Kyle Pope, who led the discussion, told the online audience.

Pope wrote in a subsequent story that the roundtable, “included conversations with journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Trace, The Guardian and others to detail what was working, what wasn’t, and what we can do about it. For two hours, we hashed through what the news business can do to cover American gun violence like the public health crisis that it has become.”

In addition to the Trace staffer, the discussion included a gun-control activist from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma – a CJR affiliate, which also receives Bloomberg dollars.

At no point during the discussion did Pope disclose to the audience or to the other attendees that the Trace and the Dart Center were both on the payroll of the country’s wealthiest gun-controller.

Instead, Pope introduced The Trace’s west coast correspondent, Alain Stephens, by saying that “The Trace is devoted full time to gun coverage and understanding the root causes of how the gun industry works.”

“They did this fantastic piece called ghost guns, which are guns that are untraceable that are now becoming a thing that people are turning to,” Pope said.

“You live in the gun world and you watch it,” Pope said to Stephens. “I know what this is like because CJR is also a trade publication.”

It should be noted that unlike The Trace, CJR is not committed to the destruction of the industry it covers.

Pope then asked Stephens how journalists should cover mass shootings. To be clear – he asked an anti-gun activist to dictate national media coverage.

“Tell me about national coverage and what people do and what people should do,” Pope asked.

Stephens bemoaned the lack of diversity and longform investigative reporting at the local level, but admitted that at the national level, “We’re all directed towards the NRA and these mass shootings.”

And then Dart Center’s executive director, Bruce Shapiro, revealed one of Bloomberg’s media strategies, which they hope will help alter the public’s perception about guns.

“The only way this is going to change is if you show us the bodies,” Shapiro said. “What is it going to take to wake America up to a uniquely American public health crisis – if not the bodies, then what?”

The Pledge

Last week, CJR released its “gun coverage commitment.” It’s a pledge the think tank wants all working journalists to sign. The main points came from comments made during the panel discussion – the one that included members from the two Bloomberg groups.

“We’re calling it the CJR Gun Violence Coverage Commitment, and we’re hoping to convince newsrooms across the country to sign on,” the press release states. “Give us your feedback, your thoughts, your concerns. Better yet, sign on to the commitment, as we seek to change the coverage of this uniquely American plague.”

Ethical Concerns

The Society of Professional Journalists maintains a code of ethics for journalists which was last updated in 2014. Every journalist knows the code. Most try to abide by it. A few don’t.

In my humble opinion, Pope’s presentation violated a half-dozen of the code’s key principles.

SPJ’s code of ethics states that journalists should:

  • Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
  • Label advocacy and commentary.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
  • Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

My Takeaways

I find it inconceivable that any journalism organization – especially CJR – would convene a panel discussion that mixes media and activists of any kind, and then allow the activists to dictate coverage. It’s neither objective nor fair.

Besides, Bloomberg’s groups have a huge dog in the fight, and they’re activists after all, not journalists.

I find it even more troublesome that neither these gun-control activists, nor their employers or their funding sources were disclosed, and that their ideas were later turned into a pledge that was sent out to the country’s working media.

I wonder if CJR would convene a similar panel discussion with anti-abortion activists or anti-immigration activists, and then ask them to help shape national media coverage. I am pretty sure I already know the answer.

How about a sit down with NRA, GOA, SAF and other pro-gun groups? That, too, would never happen.

Nowadays, public trust of the media is plummeting. The number-one reason cited for this is the media’s biases, of which there are many. Why else would CJR believe they could get away with this unethical lunacy?

We all know that when it comes to guns, the legacy media throws its highly touted ethics right out the window.

I’ve seen it happen.

Standards of accuracy, sourcing and fairness – which are common practice for other news stories – simply don’t apply if the story is anti-gun.

This country needs a fair and objective media because without reporters performing their watchdog role, government can run amok.

We’re seeing that now with the laudatory coverage of the Biden/Harris administration – whom the media believes can do no wrong.

And as to the pledge, in my humble opinion there are far more important things for working journalists to do with their time than to sign loyalty oaths to Michael Bloomberg.

As always, thanks for your time.

Lee

 

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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project, and used here with their permission.

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. “I find it inconceivable that any journalism organization – especially CJR – would convene a panel discussion that mixes media and activists of any kind, and then allow the activists to dictate coverage.” Has this guy been living under a rock for the last decade?

  2. These people are all paid shills for Bloomberg. Besides throwing money at these phony groups and phony news organizations, don’t forget their are conference sponsorships, grants, fellowships, studies etc. that are used to buy people off.

    The big give away is when they say “Gun Violence” is a “Public Health Crisis”. We are living in our Orwellian world today, where people are told what they can do and can’t do by the medical community, your civil and human rights be damned. If they could label civilian firearms as a virus and ban them all, they would do so.

    But don’t worry, their Police and Their Military will continue to be armed to the teeth so they can arrest, jail and maybe even murder any opposition. After all, they are doing it to save the little children.

  3. The myth that news outlets were ever “objective” persists, undeservedly. Every “news” producer always has/had an agenda. One can look back at copies of what served as “newspapers” that were published in the days of the founders of this nation. In olden times, such publications were called “broadsides”. News publication has always been one of “point” and “counterpoint” views of the founder of the news publication. Even the notion of creating a news organ designed to be 100% objective is a viewpoint/agenda/political decision.

    Many people want “news” to be “objective”, but for what purpose? Information? Education? Intellectualism? Raw, unbiased, unvarnished truth simply accessed in a vacuum? People want to know “what’s goin’ on”, but generally with the idea of shaping or reinforcing their politics.

    Truth doesn’t sell; inflamed emotions does.

    • The idea of objectivity in the news was invented out of whole cloth by Edward R. Murrow style idealists in the early-to-mid-20th century. A minority of journalists tried to follow Edward R. Murrow’s footsteps, but the industry itself never did and never wanted to. The post-WWII government propagandists and the crypto-commie elite did see the benefit of being *perceived* as fair and honest, however.

      Murrow is probably the only legend in journalism who deserves his status (and probably more), but we’d be a lot better off if his idealistic lot had never tried to change the original partisan brawl of news publishing.

  4. I’ll say it again just to waste my time. STOP ADVERTISING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS! Someone goes out and gets even with the world because mental health resources aren’t availability. The MSM blabber it all over the country. What follows are copy cat shootings from more mentally ill people. The Blooming idiot spends millions to get publicity to stop them. The publicity causes moreshootings!

    • Doomberg and the rest of the oligarchs don’t want to stop gun violence. They just want to ban plebs from owning weapons to defend themselves against government and corporate tyranny.

    • If there is an epidemic of mass shootings or a public health crisis, the news media absolutely is to blame:

      “Our findings consistently suggest a positive and statistically significant effect of coverage on the number of subsequent shootings, lasting for 4-10 days. At its mean, news coverage is suggested to cause approximately three mass shootings in the following week, which would explain 55 percent of all mass shootings in our sample.”

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328964721_The_Effect_of_Media_Coverage_on_Mass_Shootings

    • And overnight there was a school shooting in Russia by a 19 year old former pupil. So far 9 dead including 7 children. Putin is asking for a revision of the nation’s gun laws.

  5. We are being subjected to propaganda in exactly the same manner as in Red China, and in the past in the Soviet Union and Germany.

    There is NOTHING published or broadcast in the US by the major media that doesn’t serve to shape your opinion or outlook to favor radical progressivism. You can howl and complain about it but the horse is already out of the barn. We have at least 2 generations of people who have been indoctrinated in this crap from kindergarten to college and they’re voting now.

    I’m pretty pessimistic. 234 years later, I think our answer to Franklin is: No.

    • America answered “no” to Ben Franklin 110 years ago with the 16th and 17th amendments. Income tax directly enriching the federal government and the direct election of senators (making them creatures of DC instead of emissaries of their state) lead in a straight line to the fix we’re in right now.

    • The main component of propaganda mind games. That is what we’ve been shown to hide the truth.

      Conservative/pro gun/pro American sites can and do get created. One of the hurdles is in the code that everyone is completely convinced must be there. Entire websites can easily be takin down because of this. TTAG is no different. This website has set itself up for some harsh treatment if anyone decides its time. That’s on top of getting people to stop using Facebook and Twitter. SEO is a lie. So are VPN’s for general security. There ARE ways of protecting yourself without installing antivirus software. You CAN protect your entire home network without relying on your ISP.

      You can do whatever you like. But if you refuse to walk away from Facebook/Twitter then you are still part of the machine.

      You can tell me you know nothing about computers if you like. But these choices are up to you.

      • “So are VPN’s for general security. ”

        There a lot of them in play. Can you illuminate your comment a bit?

        • VPN’s are for getting you passed NAT from the outside. That’s why companies have their home based and field workers use them.

          Using a VPN for security just moves the goal. It doesn’t actually improve security as much as it takes it from here and puts it there. For your machines at home, your best security is the one your in charge of. Using a VPN puts someone else (likely a foreign country) in charge of your security. It pretty much makes it pointless. You would do better by just keeping your cookies cleaned out.

  6. “The only way this is going to change is if you show us the bodies,” Shapiro said. “What is it going to take to wake America up to a uniquely American public health crisis – if not the bodies, then what?”

    Predatory ghouls that feed on suffering, that’s what we’re dealing with.

  7. I have one simple thing they should all do. STOP MAKING THESE KILLERS FAMOUS. There should NEVER EVER EVER be the name of a mass shooter in the paper. PERIOD.

    Until then it should be asked at every opportunity why the media encourages these mass shootings when information points to a key motivator for mass shootings being fame and ask them why they’re not for “common sense speech control.”

    • Every time I hear them talk about common sense gun control I think about all the people they forced into being defenseless while getting locked in a room with an armed killer.

  8. If they show us the bodies of all the shoot’em up criminals will it sway my opinion. Nah, just entertainment as all media has become.

  9. The Society of Professional Journalists maintains a code of ethics for journalists which was last updated in 2014. Every journalist knows the code. Most try to abide by it. A few don’t.

    You really ought to warn readers that something like this is coming up, so they should avoid having a mouth full of hot coffee before they proceed any further. Today’s journalism has no ethics. It could only be considered a “profession” in the loose sense that makes prostitution the oldest example thereof.

  10. They’ll rely on the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for all the bullshit statistics they need to push the gun control agenda.

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