By Lee Williams
The Trace, the propaganda arm of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control empire, wants the public to believe it’s an actual newsroom comprised of actual journalists. That’s a fiction they go to great lengths to maintain.
The Trace calls itself “The only newsroom dedicated to covering gun violence.” Its staff refer to themselves as journalists, rather than anti-gun activists who are paid by Bloomberg to write anti-gun propaganda.
Since the Trace was founded eight years ago, scores of newspapers, websites and other legacy media outlets have fallen victim to this ruse. Gannett’s flagship newspaper, USA Today, has collaborated with the Trace multiple times, and has even allowed Trace activists to produce and edit content, which appeared in the newspaper under a joint byline.
“We have partnered with more than 170 national and local media organizations,” the Trace says on its website. “We’re always looking to start new partnerships.”
One Trace activist, Jennifer Mascia, who describes herself as a “Senior news writer @TeamTrace,” bristled recently when her employer was compared to Everytown, another anti-gun group funded by Bloomberg.
“You know The Trace is not a gun control org. We don’t lobby. We don’t tell readers to support laws. We don’t publish our opinions. We are all journalists. None of us have ever worked in advocacy. Our backgrounds are easily searchable. Why do you persist with this myth?” Mascia tweeted, apparently with a straight face.
“Follow the bios. We all went to journalism school. The facts don’t support your claims,” Mascia tweeted when pressed. Flashing Trace writers’ journalism school bona fides as proof of their objectivity isn’t really the flex Mascia apparently thinks it is.
Enter Rob Romano, an intelligence associate at the Firearms Policy Coalition. Romano pointed out a stunning similarity between the IRS Form 990s for the Trace and Everytown. Both nonprofits share the same president, John Feinblatt.
Feinblatt, of course, is Michael Bloomberg’s chief gun control capo, in charge of all of his gun control advocacy and lobbying operations. Further examination shows Feinblatt is also listed as the two nonprofits’ principal officer. The 990s show that the Trace and Everytown also use the same phone number, 646-324-8250. Both nonprofits were incorporated in Delaware, which is known for its stringent corporate privacy laws.
Romano put the two 990s up in a tweet to Mascia, stating simply: “The president of your organization is literally the president of Everytown.”
This, of course, is nothing new. Gun owners have always known about the nexus between the Trace and Bloomberg’s the other Astroturf (they’re not grassroots) gun-control groups funded by his billions of dollars. But the legacy media turns an intentionally blind eye to the connection so they can continue to publish the Trace’s propaganda guilt-free.
If they legacy media accepted and acknowledged the reality that the Trace is nothing but another anti-gun advocacy group that was founded to generate anti-gun agitprop, they couldn’t ethically publish their work. Most newspapers have ethical guidelines (no, really) that prohibit partnering with activists.
Gannett uses its “Principles of Ethical Conduct for Newsrooms” as a way to keep control of its thousands of journalists. The numerous collaborations between the Trace and USA TODAY clearly violate many of these ethical principles:
Exercising fair play:
We will strive to include all sides relevant to a story and not take sides in news coverage.
We will maintain an impartial, arm’s length relationship with anyone seeking to influence the news.
We will be free of improper obligations to news sources, newsmakers and advertisers.
Ensuring the Truth Principle:
We will not intentionally slant the news.
Conducting investigative reporting:
Evaluate legal and ethical issues fully, involving appropriate colleagues, superiors, lawyers or dispassionate outside parties in the editorial process. (For example, it may be helpful to have a technical story reviewed by a scientist for accuracy, or have financial descriptions assessed by an accountant, or consult an ethicist or respected outside editor on an ethical issue.)
Be careful about trading information with sources or authorities, particularly if it could lead to an impression that you are working in concert against an individual or entity.
Protect against being manipulated by advocates and special interests.
In a perfect world, every newspaper that published Trace propaganda as news stories would retract every single story and then issue an apology to its readers, along with a promise to never do it again.
Unfortunately, that will never happen, because guns. The legacy media couldn’t care less about facts, accuracy, fairness or ethics if it involves an anti-gun story.
If the legacy media continues to publish stories from proven anti-gun activists, I can’t help but wonder when they’ll begin to partner with NRA, GOA, NSSF or even SAF for future content. That would seem to be the fair thing to do.