UPDATED: HBO RESPONDS
They once shared co-hosting duties on NBC’s Today show and now it looks like Bryant Gumbel has joined Katie Couric in being accused of using deceptive editing techniques to attack gun rights.
The inventor of the AR-15 rifle, Jim Sullivan, has attacked HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel for misrepresenting “much of what I had said” in his interview for their anti-gun segment aired on the May 24 program.
Sullivan, in a May 31 article for The Federalist, charged that the anti-gun segment (by Real Sports correspondent David Scott and producers Chapman Downes and Katie Melone) tried “to make the AR-15 civilian model seem too dangerous for civilian sales. They didn’t lie about what I said, they just omitted key parts, which changed the meaning.”
Sullivan went on to list his specific objections:
The examples I most object to are: 1) When I appear to say that the civilian-model AR-15 is just as effective or deadly as the military M16, they omitted that I had said “When firing semi-auto only” and that “the select fire M16 on full auto is of course more effective”; and 2) the interviewer pretended not to understand the relevance that, due to the Hague Convention, military bullets cannot be expanding hollow points like hunting bullets that give up all of their energy in the target body instead of passing through with minimum wound effect, with most of the energy still in the bullet and wasted.
The following is the relevant portion of Sullivan’s interview, with HBO’s Scott, as it was aired on the May 24 edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel:
DAVID SCOTT: Keane says the difference is clear, that military assault rifles are fully automatic, able to fire at speeds like this with a single pull of the trigger. While the AR-15 is semi-automatic, thus only able to fire at speeds like this. But the designer of the gun says the AR-15 is every bit as deadly as its military counterpart.
SCOTT TO JIM SULLIVAN The lethality of the AR-15.
JIM SULLIVAN: Right.
SCOTT: Is that reduced in the civilian semi-automatic mode?
SCOTT: It’s not?
SULLIVAN: It’s the same.
SCOTT: The same?
SULLIVAN: In fact the gun is functioning exactly the way the military model is in semi-automatic.
SCOTT: And even the U.S. Army’s field manual advises soldiers to fire in semi-automatic mode during combat, because of its greater accuracy.
Gumbel’s teaser, introduction and conclusion to Scott’s piece were full of heated rhetoric with the HBO host going as far to condemn: “It seems the gun people keep mining new depths.”
As NewsBusters’ Dylan Gwinn wrote at the time, the segment used incendiary and inaccurate language in its depiction of the AR-15:
On Tuesday night’s episode of Real Sports, the investigative arm of HBO’s leftist sports department took exception with the AR-15 rifle. Specifically, the marketing of the AR-15 as a “sporting rifle.” Which, as reporter David Scott contends, was created for military use, with the sole purpose of killing.
Narrator: From 12 dead at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, to 14 killed by terrorists in San Bernardino...From 10 killed by the Washington D.C. Snipers... To 26 dead in a school in Newtown, Connecticut... One massacre after another is being committed with America's most popular sporting gun: A gun, after all, that was designed for one purpose. And sports is not it.
And cue the scenes of death and destruction from Vietnam. Of course, there’s only one problem with all this. The AR-15 sold today to Americans in gun shops, or online, is not the same one issued to the military in Vietnam. Nor, is it even the same one issued to the military today.
UPDATE (6/1): HBO sent an official response to BearingArms.com's Bob Owens. Owens reported: “Within hours, HBO’s Greg Domino contacted Bearing Arms with what he claims was an accurate transcript of the Sullivan interview, and which he says shows HBO did not change the context of Sullivan’s statements.” Owens went on to provide HBO's full response that included their transcript of the Sullivan interview.
After reprinting HBO's transcript, Owens then noted the following: “This is what Real Sports claims was the transcript, but as we all know, gun control supporters don’t always provide an accurate transcript, do they? I therefore asked Mr. Domino for video clips of these segments to be posted to YouTube—HBO does have a very active YouTube presence, including a Real Sports playlist including 166 videos—so that I could verify that the video interview of Mr. Sullivan matched the transcripts provided by HBO. Mr. Domino pointedly refused to post the video clips, and reiterated his claim that the transcripts were accurate.I pointed out to Mr. Domino that we cannot simply take his word that the transcript is accurate at a time where Bryant Gumbel’s contemporaries are being caught red-handed committing fraud in other anti-gun video productions. Mr. Domino has so far not responded to that indisputable fact.”
Owens's full blog here.