Is the mainstream press consciously giving false importance to the president's anti-gun agenda?
That’s a question worthy of an answer from Reuters in the wake of a report Monday about tonight’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama in which reporter Susan Heavey and editor Philip Barbara allowed this to pass for fact:
There’s just one problem with that sentence. According to the same story, “Fifteen percent said the nation’s gun policies were a top priority…Quinnipiac found.”
Fifteen percent hardly makes the president’s gun policies a "top concern," but the Reuters piece appears to be putting emphasis on what will likely unfold Tuesday evening. President Obama is expected to press his gun prohibition agenda during his State of the Union address, starting at 6 p.m. for West Coast residents. For full effect, several anti-gun House Democrats have invited victims of “gun violence” to be in the House chamber during the speech.
As another Reuters reporter, Thomas Ferraro, acknowledged in this article, “The move is part of a multi-faceted campaign by gun-control advocates to crank up public pressure on members of Congress to stand up to the gun-rights lobby, despite fears that it could cost some of them re-election.”
UPDATE: A new Gallup Poll also rained on the president's parade, showing that a majority (54 percent) oppose Obama's gun control policy and only 42 percent support it.
As this column reported, the address will also be attended by Ted Nugent, the hard-rocking guitarist and hardcore gun rights activist who presumably will be on his best behavior, at least until after the speech. Nicknamed “The Motor City Madman,” the outspoken Nugent has been known to toss verbal bombshells. Tuesday’s coverage will tell whether cameras pan on him or the “gun victims” who will almost certainly be recognized at some point during Obama’s address.
Overshadowing the president’s speech is yesterday’s defiant nuclear test by North Korea, which should get Obama’s attention far more than his desire to ban guns. Tuesday evening will tell America where the president’s priorities lay, national security or citizen disarmament.
The Quinnipiac survey has some interesting results that further erode the notion that the president’s gun policies are a priority. Among college graduates, only 10 percent consider gun policy important, and among seniors, only nine percent give it much traction. In the 45-64 year age group, 12 percent think it’s important, and it runs well behind the economy and federal deficit in terms of importance.
In only one category, the age 18-29 group, does gun policy break 25 percent in terms of importance. In every other category, gun policy can’t even crack 20 percent.
Meanwhile, according to Quinnipiac, “A total of 79 percent of voters describe the economy as ‘not so good’ or ‘poor’ and only 34 percent say it's getting better, while 28 percent say it's getting worse and 37 percent say it's staying about the same.”
Reuters didn’t say anything about this, instead choosing to note, “The nationwide poll found 35 percent of U.S. voters said the economy was a top concern, while 20 percent pointed to the federal deficit. It also showed 53 percent said the U.S. economy is still in a recession even though economists have said the downturn that began in late 2007 officially ended in July 2009.”
Yet with all of this, Reuters maintained that “gun policy” is a top concern of U.S. voters.
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