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The Media and Censorship

The Media and Censorship

by Leroy Pyle

Cops learn early in their careers that truth, accuracy, and facts, are not real high on the list of priorities of a newspaper or TV editor! I remember as a young midnighter fresh out of the academy making my first good arrest of an auto theft suspect. It involved a Corvette wrapped around a telephone pole, so the great photo opportunity got me an interview. In that evening's newspaper, I would not have recognized the story without the photograph!

I learned then, and the lesson has been reinforced repeatedly over the years, that the main objective of the media is to sell their wares. A good photo and an exciting tale will sell the paper. The facts are relegated to the police report where the emphasis is on accuracy and the truth.

An example I like to use is a morning's TV news that had a report of two policemen shooting a man who pointed a gun at them. Details were not available, as the investigation was in progress (the police are required to be factual) but to "make" a story, the narration was emphasized by statements from witnesses that "the police failed to identify themselves" before shooting and questions about the number of shots the policemen took at the suspect pointing the gun.

How ludicrous from a policeman's point of view. How absurd from the point of view of anyone who has ever been in the position of looking down the barrel of a gun. How could there be any requirement to say ANYTHING when someone points a gun at you? And how DO you judge when sufficient shots have stopped that threat?

But there is no requirement that a news report be logical or accurate. That reporter wanted to create sound bites that would attract his editor and force his story onto the news. He was furthering HIS personal views and making HIS personal reputation and attempting to secure HIS future in the news industry. What difference to him how it might affect the reputation of the police, in general, or those officers in particular?

I am sure that any law enforcement officer can relate a variety of similar episodes occurring during his or her career. And law enforcement personnel should be first to understand the frustration felt by gun owners with the media censorship that is presented on a daily basis across our nation.

At one of the annual meetings of the National Rifle Association I attended, it was reported that the three major networks were refusing to run a paid advertisement by the N.R.A. The ad addresses the need for reform in our criminal justice system. Many of you may have seen the ad, but not if you live in Washington, D.C. If a resident of our Nation's Capital, a noted crime capital, you had to watch the ad as reprinted in the newspaper!

The TV ad presents a heated debate between a politician and his staff. Violent crime is the topic, and he asks, "What can we tell the voters?"

"How about the truth?" suggests one aide. "We're not keeping violent criminals in prison."

"The average criminal set free will commit 187 more crimes a year.” says another aide.

"We're out of prison space." the politician says.

"Then build more." says an aide. "Good people are getting hurt, bad."

The entire staff hammers the politician with the facts, all of which point toward meaningful criminal justice reform, until he shouts, "Stop giving me facts, and start giving me headlines!"

A youngish looking aide enters the room during the last statement. "How about another gun control law?" he asks. The scene then switches to the politician announcing his grand gun control plan on television as a criminal watches and begins laughing at the speech.

N.R.A.'s media relations’ representative reports that in refusing the ad, Allan Horlick of WRC-TV did not provide written explanation for rejection of the commercial. Sandra Butler-Jones of WUSA-TV wrote, "It is our right and privilege, for reasons unto ourselves, to reject the ads." WJLA-TV's Carol Powell said the ads "tend to inflame or incite unreasoned public responses" and present "a series of facts irrelevant to the efficacy of gun control."

In full-page ads in major newspapers, N.R.A. called these stations to task. "Where's the right to free speech, right here in the world's cradle of freedom?" N.R.A. asked. "Access to public airwaves should be available to everyone who presents a responsible viewpoint. That should include law-abiding gun owners. Maybe these stations would be reminded of that fact if their operating licenses were legally challenged by the full resources of the National Rifle Association of America."

"Refusal to air commercials that depict the failure of our criminal justice system and meaningful remedies to that breakdown is not only suppression of speech," said NRA-ILA chief lobbyist James Jay Baker. "It is a direct insult to the good people of the nation's capital who are plagued as much by ineffective solutions to violent crime as they are by crime itself."

I am reminded, too, of another media element that treats gun owners and law enforcement with similar disdain. Time Magazine refused to run an N.R.A. ad depicting freedom violations in China after the Tiananmen Square tragedy. The ad cited part of the Second Amendment and argued that the right to bear arms is a protection against "tyranny."

Time Warner will take every opportunity to deny you your Second Amendment Rights. The very same conglomerate that brought us Ice-T and the "Cop Killer" lyrics without regard for the safety of law enforcement professionals will stop at nothing in the pursuit of profit. Please consider joining with Second Amendment organizations and the N.R.A. in opposing the "tyranny" of the media whenever they pose a threat to you OR your rights.

"I'd like to take a cop out

in the parking lot and shoot him

in his m______-f______ face,"

"Die, pig, die. F___ the police.

I know your family's grievin."

F___'em."


Leroy Pyle is a career police officer,
NRA Training Counselor & Instructor, and Internet Activist WebMaster, www.2ampd.net & www.PaulRevere.org

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