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Where Are Gun Rights Themes on TV?

New Two-Year MRC Study Found Pro-Gun Themes and Arguments Are Unwelcome On the Air

Where Are Gun Rights Themes on TV?

In a new two-year Media Research Center study of TV gun-policy stories, Senior Analyst Geoffrey Dickens has found a dramatic network news tilt in favor of gun control. [See box.] Dickens also found that not only do most stories lean to the left for more gun regulation, the themes gun-rights advocates would like to see included in TV news reports are seldom mentioned. For example:

1. Increase prosecutions against criminals using firearms. The National Rifle Association argues that federal prosecutions of gun law violations have dropped significantly since 1992. In recent ads, the NRA has cited a Syracuse University study that there has been a 46 percent drop in prosecutions of the criminal use of firearms from 1992 to 1998. While NRA spokesmen invited on as guests made this point, TV reporters and interviewers cited the Clinton administration's failure to prosecute criminals just eight times.

2. When the program Project Exile increased gun prosecutions in Richmond, shootings were reduced. Reporters, for the most part, ignored one program that has successfully reduced shootings. Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia was noted a mere three times. According to the NRA, Project Exile "adopts a zero-tolerance for federal gun crimes, with federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors working hand-in-hand to prosecute each and every federal firearms violation." Once the program was implemented, the NRA found "the city's homicides were cut nearly one-third, the lowest number since 1987." The only mentions of Project Exile came once on NBC Nightly News and twice on ABC's World News Tonight. CBS aired nothing. CNN's The World Today never covered Project Exile, but did find time to highlight a guns for Beanie Babies exchange program in Illinois (April 27, 1998).

3. Millions of people use guns every year in self-defense. In 1997, criminologist Gary Kleck estimated that over 2.5 million people a year defend themselves from an assailant or burglar by exercising their constitutional right to bear arms. Yet how many times did television networks report such acts? In the past two years, out of 653 gun policy stories, exactly 12 times. 

By making a blockbuster story out of several school shootings -- while leaving out the millions of times citizens stop crime each year -- the networks present a very misleading picture to the average viewer that firearm use brings more harm than good, and thus should be limited or even banned.

NBC mentioned self-defense in a positive light in a November 10, 1998 NBC Nightly News story on how "these continuing threats against [abortion] doctors in America have forced many to go to extreme lengths to protect themselves."

4. Current gun laws didn't stop shootings. Gun rights advocates argue that the utility of passing yet another gun law is questionable when the ones currently on the books didn't prevent any of the shootings. This point was made on just five separate occasions, all in the first half of 1999. On NBC, it was mentioned on the April 22 and 23 Today shows and the April 23 Nightly News. There was a brief mention on the April 21 edition of Good Morning America and the June 6 The World Today on CNN. CBS never touched it.

About the Media Research Center
Bringing Political Balance and Responsibility to the Media

Founded by L. Brent Bozell III in 1987 with the mission of bringing political
balance to the nationís news media and responsibility to the entertainment
media, the Media Research Center (MRC) has grown into the nationís
largest and most respected conservative media watchdog organization.

The MRC tapes over 150 hours a week of news and entertainment shows
aired on the broadcast networks and cable news channels. With over
160,000 hours on more than 25,000 videotapes, the MRC is the only
organization with a complete tape library of network news and entertainment shows back to the late 1980s. Every day teams of MRC analysts enter data from all these stories and shows into a customized computer database, identifying bias in the process. Analysts also comb daily through the nation's most influential newspapers and news magazines.

The result of the MRCís work is a mountain of evidence to use in combating
the undeniable bias. The key to the MRCís effectiveness is the ability to
prove bias by using scientific studies and word-for-word quotes from the

MRC spokesmen appear on network television programs, including NBCís
Today, CNNís Crossfire and Reliable Sources, CNBCís Rivera Live as
well as various shows on the Fox News Channel and MSNBC. The MRC
also provides editors and producers with information on conservative
positions, suggesting conservative spokesmen to balance liberal views. Many prominent national and local radio talk show hosts utilize MRC research, including Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, Michael Reagan, G. Gordon Liddy, Mike Rosen (Denver), Neal Boortz (Atlanta) and Mark Davis (Dallas). To ensure the views of conservatives are disseminated, in 1998 the MRC created the Cybercast News Service. 

MRC President Brent Bozell writes a weekly newspaper column distributed
by the Creatorís Syndicate. Op-eds by the MRC staff have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Investorís Business Daily and National Review.

The News Division publishes Notable Quotables every other week, as well
as a weekly Media Reality Check fax report by Tim Graham and near-daily
CyberAlert e-mail reports by Brent Baker. In 1999 the news division began
a weekly MagazineWatch report and from 1988 to 1999 published Media
Watch, a newsletter chronicling media bias. At year end, a panel of 50 media experts selects the Best Notable Quotables of the year for the annual
Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting. Also, in 1999 the News Division produced the "Dishonest Awards: This Decades Most Outrageous Liberal Media Bias."

The news division publishes special reports, including Team Clinton: The
Starting Line-Up of the Pro-Clinton Press Corps, Outgunned: How the
Network News Media Are Spinning the Gun Control Debate and has
produced three books: Pattern of Deception: The Mediaís Role in the
Clinton Presidency (1996), How to Identify Expose & Correct Liberal
Media Bias (revised 1996) and And Thatís the Way It Isnít: A Reference
Guide to Media Bias (1991).

The Free Market Project (FMP) works to educate the media about the
values and benefits of the free market system. FMP publishes a monthly
newsletter, MediaNomics by Rich Noyes, which scrutinizes what the media
tell viewers and readers about free enterprise in both entertainment shows
and news programs. Special reports completed by FMP include the
much-quoted Businessmen Behaving Badly: Prime Timeís World of
Commerce which documented how on TV shows businessmen commit more crimes than any other profession. In 1994 Regnery published a book from FMP, Out Of Focus: Network Television and the American Economy.

Parents Television Council (PTC). The mission of the PTC, the Hollywood
project of the MRC, is to bring Americaís demand for positive, family-oriented television programming to the entertainment industry. The
PTC has organized a star-studded group of entertainment industry leaders to serve as members of the organizationís Advisory Board. Using scientific
analysis generated from the MRCís computerized database of entertainment show content, the PTC publishes special reports focusing on a variety topics relating to the content of prime time television -- including in-depth analyses of the "family hour" and the television ratings system. 

The online Family Guide to Prime Time Television provides a daily grid of
prime time shows with a written assessment of each program as well as an
easy "traffic light" rating system (red, yellow, and green) to signal a showís
suitability for children, based on language, violence and sexual situations.

MRC Membership. By joining the MRC members gain many benefits,
including discounts on all MRC products and novelty media bias items such
as "Donít Believe the Liberal Media" pens, bumper stickers and magnets, and tools to fight to correct the mediaís liberal bias. Members receive a special monthly report, Flash, which keeps them up to date with all of the MRCís activities, special reports and projects to combat liberal media bias. 

Montgomery Internship Program. In 1992 the MRC founded this internship
program to educate young conservatives as to how the media bias the news so they can work to bring balance to the media in the political or journalistic career they pursue. 

Job Openings. The MRC employs a team of over 35 professionals dedicated to bringing balance to the media and we are always looking for good people to join our effort by working for us. Check to see if your abilities and interests match one of our current openings. 

Have a questions or comment about our work or products? Use this e-mail
list to contact us.

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph. (703) 683-9733

Web URL: http://www.mrc.org



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