First the Spin, Then the Story
The tragedy at Virginia Tech has inspired some wretched spot analysis, like this bit from ABC News.com that Robert Stacy McCain disassembles in the Washington Times.
As Brian Ross himself admits — in a report featuring a photo of a rifle with a high-capacity clip — "Virginia law enforcement officials have not identified the weapon used in the shootings today at Virginia Tech, but …"
But how about the minor detail that this "news" might be completely irrelevant to the crime?
Here's a blanket statement based on my experience in j-school and in the MSM: Reporters take the "too many guns" tack after tragedies like these not because they're liberal, but because it fits so nicely into the "Are your kids next?" formula. Like in the stories about toys that can kill your children, tainted meat that can kill them, and MySpace pages that can kill them, these stories are like fertilizer for factual errors. McCain's post is updated with a thorough debunking.
Also worth reading is Roger Simon's explanation of why reporters are bringing back the gun control debate but the Democrats aren't:
According to exit polls, some 48 percent of voters owned guns in 2000, up from 37 percent in 1996. (This did not necessarily mean more people owned guns, but rather that more gun owners went to the polls.) Among those owning guns, 61 percent voted for Bush.
More significant, however, was what gun ownership did to other voting patterns: Overall, union households gave Gore 59 percent of their votes. But if there was a gun in that union household, the vote was split 50-50 between Bush and Gore.