At 11:25 a.m. today, MSNBC reporter Jane C. Timm filed a story at MSNBC.com called "Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled by gun nuts." It reported that Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed at Sandy Hook, was interrrupted and heckled by gun rights supporters while testifying at a gun violence prevention meeting yesterday. The MSNBC story recalled the incident this way:
“And I never thought I’d be speaking like this and asking for changes on my son’s behalf. He’s my only son, he’s my only family,” Heslin said.
As Heslin asked legislators to tighten restrictions, gun rights activist (sic) interrupted his testimony, yelling “our rights will not be infringed!” and “Second Amendment!” Local news sources reported that there were nearly a dozen hecklers, who were quickly silenced.
The report included video of Heslin speaking about his son, and a quick cut to someone saying something about the Second Amendment as Heslin looked towards the audience. A moderator asked for outbursts to stop.
The problem is, that wasn't what happened.
The Daily Caller posted a full video (included here) of the hearing, and the true context of the incident (at the 15 minute mark of the video) is shown. Heslin was not speaking of his son, but rather about the idea of passing restrictive gun laws. He then asks the panel moderating the discussion if they have a good reason why certain guns shouldn't be outlawed. He waits for a response, but no one speaks. He then asks the same question of the audience several times, insisting if anyone in the room has a reason, to speak up.
After several moments of silence, and more insistence from Heslin, several people do respond, mentioning the Second Amendment. As the video shows, the respondents did not mock or heckle, and responded as respectfully as possible given the emotional situation. The moderator then asks for the audience not to speak up, or the room will be cleared.
This isn't the first time the NBC News division has been accused of selective editing in order to create a sensational story. George Zimmerman, the accused killer of Trayvon Martin, is suing NBC News for playing a 911 call that was edited to make it appear as if Zimmerman thought Martin was suspicious because he was black. In reality, he only mentioned Martin's race when asked by the 911 operator, and over a minute of the call between two of his statements was removed to create a different impression.
MSNBC promotes itself as the liberal alternative to Fox News, and has actively promoted gun control on many of its shows.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SIGN UP or SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page.