Politico's Glueck Spends Four Paragraphs Smearing the NRA Before Noting Lanzas Were Never Members

March 30th, 2013 7:35 PM

Politico's "About" page consists of two rotating graphics: One says: "More reporters. Better coverage." The other: "A distinctive brand of journalism driving the conversation."

It's hard to make a case that Politico's coverage is "better" (than what -- the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press? That would be setting the bar pretty low). And while it is distinctive, the web site should replace the "c" in "distinctive" with a "k." In one example of stinky distinctiveness, Katie Glueck spent four paragraphs smearing the NRA by inference in a story about evidence found at the home of Newtown, Connecticut mass murderer Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy before recognizing the NRA's response that neither person was ever a member of the organization (bolds are mine throughout this post:

Adam Lanza, the man behind the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., possessed a National Rifle Association certificate in his name, new reports say.

Reuters reported that according to documents released on Thursday, police discovered NRA certificates in the name of Lanza and his mother, Nancy Lanza — whom he killed before starting the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The two reportedly frequented gun ranges together as Adam Lanza was growing up.

An NRA guide to pistol shooting basics was also discovered, NBC News reported, citing authorities.

According to documents posted online, during a search of the Lanza home, an “Adam Lanza National Rifle Association Certificate” was discovered in a blue and white duffel bag that also contained a “‘Blazer’ .22 cal long rifle (50 rounds),” as well as eye and ear protection, cartridges and “numerous paper targets,” among other items.

The attempt to lay it all off on Reuters is lame, given that the wire service's Mary Ellen Clark placed so little relative importance on the NRA certificates that she didn't reveal their existence until the ninth paragraph of her 14-paragraph report. Clark erred, however, in failing to get an NRA response or to even indicate that she had tried to get one.

Perhaps that's what got Glueck so excited that she decided that the NRA materials deserved a story of their own. Except for one thing -- the NRA did respond, and quickly, to Clark's Reuters piece, and Glueck needed to recognize it. But instead of putting the denial in the first or second paragraph where it belonged, she waited until Paragraph 5, and watered it down with an adjective which still implied some form of membership:

The NRA pushed back on an association with the Lanzas later on Thursday.

“There is no record of a member relationship between Newtown killer Adam Lanza, nor between Nancy Lanza, A. Lanza or N. Lanza with the National Rifle Association,” the organization said in a statement. “Reporting to the contrary is reckless, false and defamatory.”

A review of the NRA website shows that the organization offers a variety of education and training programs, and also provides online templates for certificates. Organizations around the country also offer what they bill as NRA certificates upon completion of certain classes.

A spokeswoman for the NRA confirmed to POLITICO that it is possible to possess a certificate from the NRA without being a full-fledged member of the organization.

Or a member of the organization at all, Katie. Your use of the term "full-fledged" was a deliberate attempt to introduce confusion into a crystal clear situation as explained by the NRA, and is a perfect demonstration of the "reckless, false and defamatory" journalistic behavior about which the NRA is justifiably concerned.

Quite a "distinktive" effort indeed.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.