World News reporter David Muir on Wednesday aggressively pushed gun control with a recycled, one-sided report on the ease of buying weapons. Muir also failed to identify Omar Samaha, featured prominently in the segment, as the grassroots coordinator for Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Muir replayed a four-year-old segment of Samaha going to a gun show to purchase weapons from private sellers. The journalist labeled the young man as someone who lost his sister at the Virginia Tech massacre. The correspondent didn't explain, however, that Samaha is employed professionally with a gun control organization and has worked with Michael Bloomberg to restrict the Second Amendment. Muir has a history of misleading viewers. On April 6, 2009, he promoted another gun control activist without identifying his political stance or affiliation.
On Wednesday, the journalist showed the 2009 footage of Samaha at a gun show, lecturing,"Right now in more than 30 states, you can go into a gun show, buy a gun from a private seller, no questions asked."
At no time in the segment did Muir talk to anyone who opposed more gun control. Instead, the reporter waited until the very end of the story to read a quote from an NRA statement: "Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting and will not keep our kids safe in schools."
Muir closed his story be concluding, "[The NRA points] to our failing mental health system. They say that's what we should concentrated on, not the gun shows."
Viewers might have found this argument stronger if Muir hadn't left out a key point: Seung-Hui-Cho, the Virginia Tech assassin, passed a background check when getting his gun. This didn't stop the reporter from mentioning that case as a reason for new legislation.
A transcript of the April 10 segment is below:
DIANE SAWYER: And we move next to the other big story of the day, gun control, gun reform, and an apparent breakthrough, a rare compromise deal on background checks of people buying guns. An emotional plea from the First Lady. But first ABC's David Muir shows us what would change if this deal passes. David?
DAVID MUIR: Diane, as you know, a group of senators from both sides of the aisle have come up with a compromise, essentially saying if you buy a gun at a gun show or one online, you have to undergo a background checks. Right now in more than 30 states, you can go into a gun show, buy a gun from a private seller, no questions asked. Tonight we put it to the test again because it's at the center of a red hot debate. Tonight, that new word of compromise is welcome by Omar Samaha, a young man we have been following here for six years now since he lost his sister. Reema was just 18, an accomplished dancer. Her last performance, the day before she was killed at Virginia Tech. Afterward, lawmakers promised solutions, among them, closing the gun show loophole. We went with Omar to this parking lot in Richmond, Virginia a year later, wanted to know how many guns he could still buy in one hour, no questions asked. We gave him $5,000 cash. Not even inside, already approached by a seller. Omar buys a gun. So, this is what?
OMAR SAMAHA: This is a Glock.
MUIR: You bought this before you even got in the show?
SAMAHA: Yeah, he was just sitting right outside the door. Went up to him. How much you want for it? 450 bucks. Here's the cash. Thanks. See you later. That was it.
MUIR: A Glock handgun, the same kind used to kill his sister, Reema. Inside Omar makes his way through the aisles. And when he emerges, he's carrying a semi-automatic assault weapon. And what did they ask?
SAMAHA: Nothing. I just went up, gave him cash. He was like, "Cash is all you need."
MUIR: In the next hour, he emerges over and over again.
SAMAHA: I got more than I can even hold.
MUIR: And watching the entire time, former ATF agent Jerry Nunziato. And what was very clear then and still clear tonight, no one inside was doing anything illegal. These sellers did what they're legally able to do.
JERRY NUNZIATO: Exactly. There's nothing illegal about their transactions.
MUIR: And tonight nearly six years to the day after Virginia Tech, after Omar lost his sister, we check back in, asking if this proposal passed, would visiting that gun show be different?
SAMAHA: It would be a lot different. I would have to undergo a background check for every gun I went through. If you remember, I bought every single one of those guns without a background check.
MUIR: But he would have to ask questions, if passed. Tonight Omar knows this is not a done deal. And there are many who believe in this country, it's the wrong move. Tonight, the NRA sending me this statement: "Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting and will not keep our kids safe in schools." In fact, Diane, they point to our failing mental health system. They say that's what we should concentrated on, not the gun shows.