On CNN, Parker Calls NRA 'Terrorist' Group, Host Is Tougher on Pro-Gun Guest

On Friday's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, host Costello again showed a blatant double standard in giving a softball interview to gun control activist Andy Parker, but then more aggressively debating a pro-gun guest in the next segment.

After Parker, who has a history of using incendiary language to demonize pro-gun advocates on Costello's show, called the NRA a "terrorist organization," Costello did not challenge the label, and then ended up inviting Parker to suggest questions for her pro-gun guest, Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America, two of which she later posed to him as her first two questions.

After starting by giving Parker a chance to praise President Barack Obama's town hall performance, Costello asked for his reaction to the NRA's refusal to participate, inspiring Parker's latest attack on the pro-gun group. After the CNN host asked if he regretted the NRA's absence, Parker quickly went to the "terrorist" label and at one point, before being pressed to clarify, seemed to suggest that a gun dealer feared the NRA would "kill" him if he openly supported President Obama's gun control efforts. Parker:

I think most Americans really know, you know, what they (the NRA) really stand for and how they are obstructionists and, you know, in essence a terrorist organization. I found it interesting last night, I talked to a gentleman that said he knew a gun shop owner that was thrilled with the President's proposals because he said, you know, "I go to these gun shows and all these unlicensed dealers are around, and they, it's, they're not playing by the same rules."

And the man said, "Well, why don't you speak out against the NRA?" And he said, "The NRA would kill me if I did that." So this is, you know, this is what they do. They intimidate and then they, you know, they pay off politicians.

Costello did not challenge the "terrorist" label but did jump in to clarify that the NRA would not literally "kill" someone over political differences:

CAROL COSTELLO: Not kill them literally? Now, that's not what you're saying, okay?

ANDY PARKER: No, no, no, he, but, no.

COSTELLO: We have to clear that up.

PARKER: Yeah, let me clear that, yeah. They would destroy him. They wouldn't be able, you know, he wouldn't be able to get his license. They would, yeah, exactly.

Parker's incendiary words should come as no surprise to the CNN host since he has made similar comments in recent months on her show.

As he appeared on December 4, 2015, Parker accused Republicans of "aiding and abetting terrorists," and of behaving in a "treasonous fashion" in opposing new gun laws.

On Costello's October 3, 2015, show, he suggested that the NRA and Republicans are on the side of "evil," accused the NRA of "terrorizing this country," and accused a Republican Congressman of having "blood on his hands."

Back to Friday's show, Costello then mildly inserted a dissenting view as she alluded to the pro-gun views of a woman who had been a rape victim who asked a question to President Obama at the CNN town hall, asking Parker for his response. Costello:

There were other victims of crime there at that town hall last night. A rape victim stood and told the President she needed a gun for protection. Your daughter was killed by a man with a gun. How would you have answered that question last night?

The CNN host then invited Parker to suggest questions for her next guest, posing, "I'm going to talk to a gun rights advocate right after this interview wraps up. What would you like me to ask him?" and then helpfully responding, "All right, I will ask him those questions."

When Pratt came aboard for the next segment, Costello challenged his opposition to gun control in her first three questions, and then in the follow-up comment before the fourth question, with the first two questions coming from her previous guest. Costello:

So you heard what Andy Parker wanted me to ask you. He said, you know, you always hear the argument that a good guy with a gun would prevent all of these, all of these killings, but he said, you know, his daughter Alison was, she was doing a live television report, she was holding a microphone. Was she supposed to have a gun in her other hand? How do you respond to that?

[ERICH PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA]

Well, let me stop you there for just a second, Erich, because I hear where you're coming from, but, you know, Andy also said nobody is trying to take law-abiding citizens' guns away, no one is trying to do that, no one. And he wonders where that's coming from.

[PRATT]

But you can still own a gun in Australia, so I just want to get to the core issue. I hear you, I hear your argument. The President says that it's absolutely untrue, there's no way that he can like confiscate 300 million guns in this country, right? There's a lot of guns out there.

[PRATT]

I hear you, but most Americans, according to our poll, support the President's executive orders.They support it because it's strengthening existing laws on the books. My final question to you, my final, is this, my final question to you, Erich, stop. My final question, my final question, my final question: Was this a waste of time by the President? Would anything change your mind? Would you have wanted to go to that meeting and like sat down and talk to people who don't think like you?

After complaining that Pratt was not answering her question, she moved on to asking why he refused the chance to have a discussion with President Obama at the town hall.

On her December 3, 2015, show, Costello similarly showed a double standard in dealing with gun control activist Dan Gross and pro-gun activist John Lott.

Below are transcripts of all questions posed by Costello to both her guests beginning at 10:07 a.m. ET on the Friday, January 8, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:

CAROL COSTELLO: My next guest was at the town hall meeting last night and is a leading voice in calling for tighter gun control. It's a job he never actually wanted. His daughter Alison alongside her cameraman Adam Ward were killed on live television back in August, and ever since Andy Parker has vowed to do whatever it takes to end gun violence. He joins us now from Washington. Welcome back, Andy.

ANDY PARKER, GUN CONTROL ACTIVIST: Good to see you Carol under, I think, better circumstances.

COSTELLO: Better circumstances because I wanted to ask you, you were at the town hall, how did it feel to you?

[PARKER]

COSTELLO: At the same time, you heard how the NRA responded. They blew this off as a publicity stunt. What would you say to them?

PARKER: You know, I think that, well, you know, it shows their character that they didn't show up, you know, they're invited, they don't want to engage in the conversation, and we know what they do.

COSTELLO: Do you regret that the NRA wasn't there?

PARKER: Not really, and again, I think most Americans really know, you know, what they really stand for and how they are obstructionists and, you know, in essence a terrorist organization. I found it interesting last night, I talk to a gentleman that said he knew a gun shop owner that was thrilled with the President's proposals because he said, you know, "I go to these gun shows and all these unlicensed dealers are around, and they, it's, they're not playing by the same rules."

And the man said, "Well, why don't you speak out against the NRA?" And he said, "The NRA would kill me if I did that." So this is, you know, this is what they do. They intimidate and then they, you know, they pay off politicians.

COSTELLO: Not kill them literally? Now, that's not what you're saying, okay?

PARKER: No, no, no, he, but, no.

COSTELLO: We have to clear that up.

PARKER: Yeah, let me clear that, yeah. They would destroy him. They wouldn't be able, you know, he wouldn't be able to get his license. They would, yeah, exactly.

COSTELLO: I understand. There were other victims of crime there at that town hall last night. A rape victim stood and told the President she needed a gun for protection. Your daughter was killed by a man with a gun. How would you have answered that question last night?

[PARKER]

I'm going to talk to a gun rights advocate right after this interview wraps up. What would you like me to ask him?

[PARKER]

All right, I will ask him those questions. Andy Parker, thanks for being with me this morning.

(...)

COSTELLO: So you heard what Andy Parker wanted me to ask you. He said, you know, you always hear the argument that a good guy with a gun would prevent all of these, all of these killings, but he said, you know, his daughter Alison was, she was doing a live television report, she was holding a microphone. Was she supposed to have a gun in her other hand? How do you respond to that?

[ERICH PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA]

Well, let me stop you there for just a second, Erich, because I hear where you're coming from, but, you know, Andy also said nobody is trying to take law-abiding citizens' guns away, no one is trying to do that, no one. And he wonders where that's coming from.

[PRATT]

But you can still own a gun in Australia, so I just want to get to the core issue. I hear you, I hear your argument. The President says that it's absolutely untrue, there's no way that he can like confiscate 300 million guns in this country, right? There's a lot of guns out there.

[PRATT]

I hear you, but most Americans, according to our poll, support the President's executive orders.They support it because it's strengthening existing laws on the books. My final question to you, my final, is this, my final question to you, Erich, stop.  My final question, my final question, my final question: Was this a waste of time by the President? Would anything change your mind? Would you have wanted to go to that meeting and like sat down and talk to people who don't think like you?

PRATT: I would have answered your last point. The polls are conflicting. There are many polls that show Americans don't want

COSTELLO: That's not my question.

PRATT: I'm answering what I would say...

COSTELLO: So, Erich, you could have gone to that town hall meeting because you were invited. Why didn't you go to express these things you're telling me?

[PRATT]

But why not face the President? This is your opportunity. Why not? Why not talk about it in a forum with people who think like you and not like you? Because they were both present.

[PRATT]

Okay, there's no middle ground then, huh?

PRATT: There's not when, I mean, what middle ground is there for restricting your First Amendment rights? If it's a God-given, constitutionally protected right-

COSTELLO: I can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

[PRATT]

So are you saying criminals should own weapons no matter what's in your background, you should be able to own a gun? Is that what you're saying?

[PRATT]

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters