On Monday, all three network morning shows touted Barack Obama planning to take unilateral executive action to restrict gun rights and worried that Republicans were already strong critics of the presidential power grab.
On ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Mary Bruce read directly from the White House script defending the move: “Well, the President says gun violence can no longer be ignored. And since Congress has failed to act, he says he has no choice but to go it alone.” She concluded that “no matter what he does on this issue, it is bound to spark fierce debate.”
Co-host Robin Roberts vaguely noted that “presidential candidates are already weighing in,” but no soundbites were featured of Republican 2016 contenders blasting the proposed action.
On NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer promoted Obama’s upcoming meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “discuss options on the steps he could take to help reduce gun violence.” He then warned: “Republicans strongly oppose any moves the President may make, and legal fights seem likely.”
Again, no soundbites were included of those Republicans, but Lauer did cite that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump had “called possible actions ‘an assault on the Second Amendment.’”
CBS This Morning provided the most extensive coverage of the President’s gun control push, with a two-minute long report from correspondent Jan Crawford: “So the President’s going to be holding a series of events this week focused on gun control and then he’s going to sign those executive actions that he hopes will help curb some of this gun violence.”
However, she worried that “before we even know the details, opponents are sharpening their attacks.”
Following soundbites of Obama promising action, Crawford declared: “Nearly three years after the President side-stepped Congress with 23 executive actions on gun control, advocates are urging him to do more.”
She touted how “Democratic candidates for president were quick to praise the President's upcoming action,” but fretted over how “Republicans immediately objected.”
Unlike ABC or NBC a series of soundbites were included of GOP presidential candidates denouncing the move.
Crawford concluded: “Now with all these legal questions now swirling around whether the President even has the authority to do this, kind of to do an end run around Congress, one thing that’s almost certain – this all is probably going to end up in court.”
Here is a full transcript of Crawford’s January 4 report:
7:33 AM ET
CHARLIE ROSE: President Obama is moving forward this morning on several new gun control proposals. The President is scheduled to meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to review steps he can take without Congress. His planned executive action is already drawing fire from critics. Jan Crawford is at the White House with a look at the President's effort and the push-back. Jan, good morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So the President’s going to be holding a series of events this week focused on gun control and then he’s going to sign those executive actions that he hopes will help curb some of this gun violence. But before we even know the details, opponents are sharpening their attacks.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The President’s Gun Plan; Obama to Take Executive Action, GOP Pushes Back]
BARACK OBAMA: My New Year's resolution is to move forward on our unfinished business.
CRAWFORD: President Obama teased this latest round of executive actions over the weekend.
OBAMA: We know we can't stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one?
CRAWFORD: He signaled the move last month in an interview with Norah O'Donnell, after 14 people were killed in San Bernardino by terrorists using legally purchased firearms.
OBAMA: There are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently.
CRAWFORD: Nearly three years after the President side-stepped Congress with 23 executive actions on gun control, advocates are urging him to do more. The White House is now considering several steps to clarify existing laws, forcing more gun sellers to conduct background checks on potential buyers and making it more difficult for convicted domestic abusers to acquire firearms.
Democratic candidates for president were quick to praise the President's upcoming action.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: Most gun owners in this country understand that people who should not own guns should not be able to buy them.
HILLARY CLINTON: But if it’s a Republican who walks into the White House, within the first day, the executive orders will be reversed.
CRAWFORD: But Republicans immediately objected.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO [R-FL]: On my first day behind that desk, those orders are gone.
DONALD TRUMP: The news president, if comes in, boom, first day, first hour, first minute, you can rescind that.
CRAWFORD: And they attack the President for once again going around Congress.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE [R-NJ]: This President wants to act as if he’s a king, as if he’s a dictator.
JEB BUSH: This top-down driven approach doesn't create freedom, doesn’t create safety, doesn't create security.
CRAWFORD: Now with all these legal questions now swirling around whether the President even has the authority to do this, kind of to do an end run around Congress, one thing that’s almost certain – this all is probably going to end up in court. Norah?
NORAH O’DONNELL: Alright, Jan, thank you so much.