MSNBC’s gun control push has its limits, apparently, as anchor Thomas Roberts today distinguished himself by actually doing a journalist's job: presenting both sides of a political debate.
On his April 2 MSNBC Live program, Roberts actually played video of Mark Mattioli, whose son was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, speaking out in support of the National Rife Association's call for trained armed guards in schools across America. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Roberts, who at the beginning of his daily show interviewed liberal pro-gun control Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), rightfully informed his viewers of developing news regarding the NRA’s efforts to secure our nation’s schools:
The National Rifle Association is just announcing its new unveiled plan for securing our nation's schools. Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson briefly outlined this plan, which includes training and arming school personnel and outlining school safety plans. And moments ago, Mark Mattioli the father of one of the kids killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school spoke out in favor of these recommendations.
Roberts proceeded to then show actual footage of Mr. Mattioli’s support of the NRA’s proposals, in which he argued that:
There are certain expectations and obviously in sandy hook those expectations weren't met. This is a comprehensive program. I applaud everyone for their input. I also want to say that I think politics needs to sort of be set aside here and I hope this doesn't you know, lead to name-calling. But rather this is recommendations for solutions. Real solutions that will make our kids safer.
This stands in stark contrast to how MSNBC covered the very same story during Now w/ Alex Wagner. Substitute host Joy-Ann Reid, managing editor of the liberal website TheGrio.com, not only ignored support from Mr. Mattioli, along with the rest of her liberal panel she chose instead to mock and demonize the NRA:
The NRA at this point you have to see as a bad actor. They just want an armed camp in every school, every church, everywhere in America to turn into one giant armed camp.
Reid continued her NRA bashing when speaking to former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-Conn.), now with the Center for American Progress, showing her contempt for their efforts:
I mean your former colleagues in Congress, how do you pry them apart from the NRA? I mean I do see some evidence that the state level Democrats at least are being peeled apart from the NRA.
This stark contrast in gun control coverage is new for MSNBC, as it has rarely mentioned pro-gun rights individuals in their programming. Just last week, Roberts featured Senator Blumenthal on his broadcast to push for gun control, however this week after interviewing the Senator, Roberts actually showed comments of gun-rights supporters.
While Roberts’ inclusion is notable, the MSNBC “news network” has a long way to go to being balanced on the issue of gun control.
Below are just a few examples of the extremes the Lean Forward network has taken in attacking gun rights:
See relevant transcripts below.
April 2, 2013
11:49 a.m. EDT
THOMAS ROBERTS: As we told you at the top of the hour, the National Rifle Association is just announcing its new unveiled plan for securing our nation's schools. Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson briefly outlined this plan, which includes training and arming school personnel and outlining school safety plans. And moments ago, Mark Mattioli the father of one of the kids killed at Sandy HookElementary schoolspoke out in favor of these recommendations.
MARK MATTIOLI: There are certain expectations and obviously in Sandy Hook those expectations weren't met. This is a comprehensive program. I applaud everyone for their input. I also want to say that I think politics needs to sort of be set aside here and I hope this doesn't you know, lead to name-calling. But rather this is recommendations for solutions. Real solutions that will make our kids safer.
ROBERTS: Now the Senate is expected to take up a gun control bill after their break.
Now w/ Alex Wagner
April 2, 2013
2:48 p.m. EDT
JOY-ANN REID: Connecticut is leading by example. State lawmakers have agreed on a bill that would represent one of the strictest gun safety laws in the country. It bans high-capacity magazines and creates a registry for magazines grandfathered in. It extends the state's assault weapons ban to include more than 100 more firearms like the ar-15 rifle Adam Lanza used in the sandy hook massacre in Newtown. And it establishes a registry for people convicted of weapons-related offenses. It also institutes immediate universal background checks. Meanwhile, a group organized by the NRA produced recommendations on school safety and released that report today. Former congressman Asa Hutchinson announced eight conclusions with the focus on, and you can guess it, training armed officers and teachers in schools.
ASA HUTCHINSON: Prepared for the first time that I'm aware of, a model training program for selected and designated armed school personnel. The states need to consider changing the law so that it allows the firearm to be carried by school personnel when they go through this model training program.
REID: Hutchinson says the firearms used by school staff could range from side arms to shotguns, to AR-15s. The NRA responded to the recommendation saying they need to time to digest the report. But they write we are certain the contributions he and his team have made will go a long way towards making America’s schools safer. Patrick Murphy. I can't – I mean the NRA at this point you have to see as a bad actor. They just want an armed camp in every school, every church, everywhere in America to turn into one giant armed camp. You come from a state that has the second highest, I think we were talking about it in the break, level of NRA membership in the country, Pennsylvania. Could you ever foresee Pennsylvania taking the step that Connecticut took? And is that what it’s going to take? Can Congress just not deal with this, we have to rely on the states?
PATRICK MURPHY: Congress has to, we have to rely on Congress. It's much difficult terrain in Pennsylvania than Connecticut. The NRA is shooting blanks on this solution. To think about the tragedy of Newtown where you had 20 little kids murdered in their first grade desks and their response is -- armed guards. AR-15s, which by the way did not work in Columbine in columbine there was armed guards that were not effective. So one we know that’s not effective. And secondly they are pushing back on just common-sense gun regulation. We talked earlier about the republicans. 86% of republicans are for universal background checks. The NRA lobby is still against it the NRA membership is for background checks and it's like, the NRA by the way used to be for background checks before they were against it.
REID: But I mean your former colleagues in Congress, how do you pry them apart from the NRA? I mean I do see some evidence that the state level Democrats at least are being peeled apart from the NRA. It's becoming more of a partisan and that was one of their strengths, they were bipartisan. But what is it going to take for members of Congress to look at all of these deaths and say okay, let's have a solution. Because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it.
MURPHY: Well, and they’re not because we’re over 100 days since Newtown and they still haven’t acted. It’s just frustrating as an American citizen to see what's going on. But I will tell you that thank goodness we have Mayor Bloomberg who is a game-changer. Mayor Bloomberg is basically putting democrats on notice, it used to be the NRA was the only game in town. But let me tell you something, I'm going to go to the grave as a broke man, mayor Bloomberg said, because I think this issue which is crippling our communities all across America, over 1,000 people have been killed by guns since Newtown, over 1,000. It's an epidemic. We need to act. And that's why I think with that game-changer with Michael Bloomberg, I think Democrats. And by the way it's been effective because there have been two U.S. Congressmen that have lost Democratic primaries because of Michael Bloomberg, Joe Garcia, in California and Debbie Halvorson in Illinois.
REID: Money, is that the only way to stop this?
KAREN FINNEY: Well, I think it’s part of it. But I also think we in the media have to stop taking and accepting as gospel when people like Lindsay Graham say this proposal is dead on arrival. It cannot be dead on arrival when a majority of Americans support it and I have to tell you, I worked in New York City public schools. So this whole fantasy about we're going to arm teachers and put armed guards in schools. It's never going to happen. The liability issues alone.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But Karen, it's a boon to gun manufacturers.
FINNEY: It's a boon to gun manufacturers but it's also a boon to the NRA and I think it shows exactly why our system is so broken.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But you know what, this fight is not over. I think it's important to go back to the Brady bill fight, the ban on assault weapons and the large-capacity magazines. That fight took five years. We're ahead of that. But those who were involved in that fight in the '90s understood that you weren't going to move quickly in congress and you're certainly not going to move quickly in this congress where they filibustered any meaningful piece of legislation. It's not just Bloomberg's money, which is an important countervailing force, it's that a movement is being built. A movement is being built to change the national dialogue.