WashPost Hypes ‘Intense Pressure’ From Gun Lobby For Gun Control Failure, Gives Obama A Pass

The Washington Post seems to have joined President Obama in blaming the National Rifle Association for the Senate defeating recent gun control legislation.  In an April 18 article, the Post's Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker provide cover for President Obama and Senate Democrats, peppering their story with quotes condemning Republicans and Second Amendment advocates. 

The article started off fairly tame, describing Obama as suffering a “resounding defeat” and a “stunning collapse for gun-control advocates.” It didn't take long, however, for the Post staffers to bash the gun industry.  Providing a plethora of Obama quotes to set the tone of the article, the Post highlighted the president's claiming that, “all in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” 

Mr. Obama’s dissatisfaction with Congress was highlighted, as O'Keefe and Rucker noted he:

Sounded exasperated that senators were not more responsive to public opinion and did not offer what he considered worthy explanations for why they voted down the measures. 

While Rucker and O'Keefe did mention that four Democrats opposed the bill -- not counting Sen. Harry Reid who's no vote was a procedural tactic -- the article makes it a point to say that President Obama laid the blame squarely on Republicans.  Of the 41 paragraphs in the article, the Post only dedicated 5 paragraphs exclusively to the pro-gun rights side of the debate, surrounding those paragraphs with pro-gun control quotes.

What's more, the Post writers pushed Obama’s message that Wednesday’s votes were just round one in a long fight and that the president, “Pledged to do everything he can to take further action.  He also warned of political consequences in the 2014 midterm elections.”  Nowhere within the article did O'Keefe and Rucker actually question the wisdom of Obama’s agenda, including how much, if at all, the legislation that was scuttled yesterday could potentially avert another Sandy Hook-style mass shooting.

Also worthy of a journalist's critique would be the president's tactics in promoting the legislation, which consisted of a series of platitudinal speeches where Newtown parents were the backdrop. The president seems to have done little to personally interact with senators to lobby for his bill, yet O'Keefe and Rucker failed to bring up such a criticism.

Instead, O'Keefe and Rucker lamented that Obama did everything he could post-Newtown to push his gun agenda:

When Obama traveled to Newtown in December to eulogize the victims, he vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to enact changes that could prevent gun violence.  And he did.  But some allies said he should have begun his effort sooner, such as after Giffords was shot two years ago. 

Nowhere in the article did the Post writers actually say what Obama has actually done to promote his agenda, they simply state it as fact.  Instead of actually pointing out Obama’s inability to work with Congress, the Post used this article to give the president a pass and place blame solely at the feet of the gun industry and Republicans in Congress.

Only in the very last sentence of the article was it even remotely suggested that Obama might have himself to blame for the bill's failure, providing a quote from Paul Helmke, former president of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, in which he said that:

Post-Newtown, the president’s been wonderful, but if more of this had happened after the Giffords shooting, maybe we could’ve laid the groundwork then to get something passed now. 

Of course, the Giffords shooting happened BEFORE the president's re-election, and had he pursued a gun-control agenda, it would have awaken the sleeping giant that was pro-gun conservatives who stayed home rather than vote for an uninspiring choice in the GOP's Mitt Romney. But don't expect the Post or the media in general to explore why the president never pushed gun control when he had plenty of chances to in his first term, before he faced the voters.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer was a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.