CNN's Zeleny Claims House Dem Sit-In Supported by 'Vast Majority of Country'

Appearing as a panel member on Sunday's Inside Politics, CNN's Jeff Zeleny asserted that, although the House Democratic sit-in to protest in favor of more gun control was a "stunt," that it was a "stunt that the vast majority of the country supports." The CNN correspondent was presumably reacting to a flawed CNN poll which host John King had just cited claiming that 92 percent of respondents support "background checks" for gun purchases while 85 percent favor banning those on terrorism watch lists from buying guns.

But, as recently documented by NewsBusters, the background check finding was discredited over two years ago by a poll which found that 53 percent opposed expanding background checks to private gun purchases after respondents were informed that background checks already apply to the vast majority of gun show sales. A just released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll notably found that half of Americans were concerned that Congress would "go too far" in imposing gun restrictions.



CNN host John King touted the most recent CNN poll as he introduced the segment:

Now, Democrats say they're on solid ground with the American people. Look at this polling. They want to expand background checks. They say, "Ninety-two percent of Americans favor that; only eight percent oppose. Why won't the Republicans give us a vote?" They say they want to change the law to make sure there's no gun ownership for people on terrorist watch lists. Again, they say, "Look, the American people are with us."

After clips of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi giving their views, King added:

So Democrats cite the polling numbers. Republicans say those proposals are flawed, those proposals would take away the rights of law-abiding gun citizens. What's striking to me here, though, is that, number one, they did take attention away from Clinton and Trump, who have dominated that political conversation - the House Democrats. And at least in the House campaigns, they think in their parts of the country where they're looking for seats that this is a powerful issue for them.

Zeleny gave credence to the CNN polling as he began his response:

I think it will be an issue in the presidential campaign, but not in a way that it has been in the past. What's most striking about this is the fact that Democrats are no longer divided over guns -- in big degree because a lot of those Blue Dog seats are gone. But I think Paul Ryan -- the Speaker -- is right about the fact that this was a stunt. No doubt about it, it was a stunt, but it's a stunt that the vast majority of the country supports.

He then found it "dispiriting" that no legislation is likely to pass:

But I was struck most by, that the extremes on both sides are dividing this, and there's not any will left in that Capitol Building for anyone to come together on this. We've seen it time and time again. It's really dispiriting.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, June 26, Inside Politics on CNN:

JOHN KING: A very different look this past week here in Washington as Congress dealt with a very familiar source of partisan disagreement -- whether to change our gun laws. Look at this. Look at the House floor. Usually, you see debates on the House floor. This is a sit-in -- led by the Civil Rights icon John Lewis of Georgia. Democrats sitting in saying they wouldn't let the House do its business because they wanted votes on a couple of gun law proposals.

Now, Democrats say they're on solid ground with the American people. Look at this polling. They want to expand background checks. They say, "Ninety-two percent of Americans favor that; only eight percent oppose. Why won't the Republicans give us a vote?" They say they want to change the law to make sure there's no gun ownership for people on terrorist watch lists. Again, they say, "Look, the American people are with us."

But, high drama, but there's little evidence, very little evidence it changed the divide between the two parties.

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are not going to allow stunts like this to stop us from carrying out the people's business. Why do I call this a stunt? Well, because it is one. Let's just be honest here.

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: This isn't about politics. It isn't about elections. It's not about campaigns. It's so much bigger than that.

KING: So Democrats cite the polling numbers. Republicans say those proposals are flawed, those proposals would take away the rights of law-abiding gun citizens. What's striking to me here, though, is that, number one, they did take attention away from Clinton and Trump, who have dominated that political conversation - the House Democrats. And at least in the House campaigns, they think in their parts of the country where they're looking for seats that this is a powerful issue for them. Will it be an issue in the presidential campaign?

JEFF ZELENY: I think it will be an issue in the presidential campaign, but not in a way that it has been in the past. What's most striking about this is the fact that Democrats are no longer divided over guns -- in big degree because a lot of those Blue Dog seats are gone. But I think Paul Ryan -- the Speaker -- is right about the fact that this was a stunt. No doubt about it, it was a stunt, but it's a stunt that the vast majority of the country supports.

But I was struck most by, that the extremes on both sides are dividing this, and there's not any will left in that Capitol Building for anyone to come together on this. We've seen it time and time again. It's really dispiriting.

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