Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday conducted a softball interview with Michael Bloomberg, touting his new gun control campaign and never once calling the New York mayor a liberal.
GMA even featured a truck promoting Fixgunchecks.org, highlighting the parked vehicle just outside ABC studios. Ignoring ideological labels, Stephanopoulos introduced, "New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg joins us now. He's co-founder of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns and he's unveiling a new campaign today to toughen gun control."
Stephanopoulos didn't offer much in the way of tough questions. After Bloomberg cited the Tucson shooting, the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the co-anchor blandly wondered, "So, better background checks?"
Highlighting undercover operatives sent to Arizona gun shows, Stephanopoulos did mildly challenge, "You went undercover down to a gun show, I guess last month in Arizona. The AG there just said it was just a PR stunt."
Bloomberg also appeared on the February 2 Andrea Mitchell Reports and hyped Bloomberg's "mission." Mitchell attacked President Obama for having "absolutely nothing, not one word....not even a sentence" regarding gun control in his State of the Union address.
A transcript of the February 16 segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg joins us now. He's co-founder of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns and he's unveiling a new campaign today to toughen gun control.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we get to the guns, let me also ask you a quick question about the President's budget. The President has conceded that this will stabilize the deficit crisis over time, but not solve the problem. And Republicans, top Republicans on Capitol Hill accusing him of punting by not taking on entitlements. Do you think the President made the right decision by not putting out a whole solution or did he punt?
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Well, if the Republicans want to criticize, they should put out their suggestions. They're part of government as well. But, I think both sides of the aisle, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have to come together and agree that they're going to do something for America and not use it as a cheap political trick. And unless you do something about the entitlements, which take up two thirds of the budget, you are not going to solve this problem. Unless you do something about the cost of defense, you are not going to do anything about this budget. To take the small amount that's left after you take Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security and debt service, armaments, the military, there's very little left and you're going to start cutting out the FBI, cut out the FAA, cut out the Race to the Top monies which is our future. I don't think so. What you should do with budgeting is you start with not how much money we have and what we do with the amount of money we want to spend, you start out with what a society need without wasting any money, what programs do we absolutely have to have for our future, for our kids, find ways to do that as efficiently as you can. And then, whatever you don't have, that's the amount of money you have to raise.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to take new revenues, right?
BLOOMBERG: I don't know that. All I know is I don't hear people- well the President did, in all fairness- but I don't hear Congress saying we have to have these programs or we don't have a future. We don't have a strong military. We have to fix public education across this country. We have to do something about guns that are killing 34 people a day, which we're going to talk about. And then, okay, how do we do those things and what is it going to cost
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get to this campaign against gun violence. You got a truck outside this morning. Tell us about it. [Cut to a shot of the Fixgunchecks.org truck outside GMA studios.]
BLOOMBERG: I do. We do. We have a truck that's called Fixgunchecks.org on the internet and it's going to go around the country. It shows on the side of the truck the number of people that have been killed. Since Tuscon, 1300 Americans have been killed by handguns. Since RFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed, 400,000 Americans have been killed by guns. That's more than the number of Americans killed in World War II and we're doing nothing about it. We say we should be more civil to each other- couldn't agree more- but in the end we have some failings in this country in terms of keeping guns out of the hands of minors, out of the hands of criminals, out of the hands of people with mental problems, out of the hands of -
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, better background checks?
BLOOMBERG: We need- The background checks have some loopholes. You don't have to have a background check if you go to a gun show where supposedly a casual seller can operate. The government- federal government raided some casual seller's home. He had some 800 guns in his home.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You went undercover down to a gun show, I guess last month in Arizona. The AG there just said it was just a PR stunt.
BLOOMBERG: I don't know if it's a PR stunt, but most of the Arizona newspapers said this should be a wake-up call for Arizona, whether it's a PR stunt or not, the truth of the matter is you can't sell a gun by federal law to somebody who says, "I couldn't pass a background check." Because if they say that, you know they are not going to qualify and yet gun dealers were doing it. Not all. If you look around this country, 99 percent of gun dealers are honest, it's the one percent that are putting guns in the hands of kids and criminals and drug addicts and people with mental problems and their the ones that go out and kill each- kill us, kill our children, kill the cops that are putting their lives on the line to protect us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we only have a few seconds left. I know you've taken yourself out of the 2012 presidential race.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But another New Yorker may be getting in, Donald Trump. What do you think?
BLOOMBERG: America's a wonderful country. Every American who is born here and over the age of 35 has the opportunity. I know Donald Trump. He's a great guy. He doesn't do everything he says, but he sure tries and I'm a big fan of his.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You think he's going to run?
BLOOMBERG: I have no idea. You'll have to ask Donald Trump.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Mayor Bloomberg, thanks very much for your time.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.