William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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BABBLING – AT 8:18 A.M. ET:  I started monitoring the networks this morning just in time to watch another babbling interview on the gun issue.  Up at bat this time was Dana Bash of CNN, who is usually a responsible reporter, and did in fact conduct herself in a courteous manner, never insulting her guest.  I'm sorry, but I did not catch his name.  He represented a gun owners group and used to work for the NRA.

But it was all downhill after the introduction.  Look, I have no problem with a biased interview as long as the interviewer admits his or her bias.  If she says, "I favor an assault-weapons ban, and want to make that clear for this interview," I respect that.  What I can't stand is when reporters pose as neutral, when the tone of the questions makes it clear that they're not.  That problem, which is an integrity problem, has increased dramatically in the decades since the Vietnam War.

Dash clearly was pro-gun-control, but used a device that I truly dislike.  I call it the "100 percent solution," and it attempts to portray any answer to a problem as useless if it doesn't work 100 percent of the time.  Now, under that logic we should abolish all hospitals because not all surgeries are successful and not all patients survive.  But we would never do that.  We work to make hospitals better.  Under that logic we should abolish seat belts and air bags in cars because not all passengers survive accidents in which these devices come into use.  But we work to make the devices better.

Dash challenged the notion of putting armed officers at schools, noting that there was one at Columbine, and that Virginia Tech had a police force at the time of the mass murder there in 2007.  Dash then quoted the Columbine guard, who survived the assault, as wondering why any student would need an assault rifle.

Where do we begin?  Putting armed defense at a school is a solid, time-proven idea.  It's a deterrent, like the lock on a car door.  It is not foolproof.  The guard can be poorly trained, frightened, overwhelmed, even killed by the assailant.  A police presence doesn't stop all crimes, but it certainly reduces them.  Our military cannot stop all threats to the United States, but deterrence worked during the Cold War.  We scrambled F-15s on September 11, 2001, but they were too late to stop the attacks on the World Trade Center.  Should we abolish the Air Force?  We work to make the system better.

Dash had not done real research.  If she had, she'd have known that Virginia Tech was severely criticized for its slow response to the ongoing mass murder, and indeed was fined.  And I certainly don't know how well prepared its "police department" was for a mass murderer.  As for Columbine, it featured the unique appearance of two student shooters who were able to get their weapons into the school.  The one armed guard apparently had not been tasked with checking students at the door, and there were no metal detectors.

Ms. Dash's interview subject tried to get in some other suggestions, which are now coming to the surface – steel doors and ballistic glass for schools.  Expensive, yes.  But children are precious.  More precious, I'd suggest, than many laughable "social programs" and "education grants." 

The press is doing its usual biased job, and the public isn't being served.

Oh, by the way, to follow on a theme we mentioned yesterday, one network "reporter" lambasted the idea of armed guards in schools.  It turned out he sends his child to a school with an 11-person security force.   Journalism, thy name is hypocrisy.

December 24,  2012