Now, that’s not how the network is billing its big special. Instead, ABC News says its week-long special coverage called “One Nation Under Fire” will “explore the root causes of gun violence” through both national and local reporting. But given the fact that the media outlet is focusing on “gun violence” and not just violence itself, you can’t help but be suspicious of the agenda.
“The idea is to take a mirror and let the country look at it, says Pierre Thomas, ABC News’ chief justice correspondent, who is leading the report. “We have a tendency to think about gun violence on a national scale, when we have a Walmart mass shooting or what happened in a supermarket in Colorado earlier this year. It turns out there’s an incredible amount of gun violence that is happening all the time.”
Wait… violent crimes are happening every day across this country? Holy cow, how did I miss this? I’m so glad that ABC News has uncovered this hidden story.
It’s not news that ABC is planning on delivering to its viewers. According to Pierre Thomas himself, the most important part of the new series is its narrative.
The key, says Thomas, is giving viewers a narrative they can follow. The issue of gun violence is so big that some people may have trouble getting a handle on it. Using incidents that have taken place in specific towns and cities will give the news unit a chance to break the larger themes down with anecdotes and examples that should get viewers to pay attention.
“We hope this is going to give us a better sense of the who, what, where and why and that people will walk away from this with a much better sense of what’s happening,” Thomas says.
Will ABC News mention the failures of gun control in places like New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle in any of their coverage? I doubt it, unless it’s to argue that more federal gun laws are needed since the state-level gun control laws clearly aren’t doing enough to stop the violence.
According to Thomas, the series will also “uncover solutions that might help reduce gun violence.” I’m very curious to see what kind of policies ABC News will push here. My guess is that we’re going to hear a lot about the need for federal intervention, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few talking heads bring up the nomination of David Chipman as permanent director of ATF at some point. With Chipman’s confirmation in doubt, Democrats are clearly trying to rally senators like Joe Manchin and Jon Tester to sign off on installing a gun control activist in the top spot at ATF, and the ABC News special seems like an ideal vehicle for them to make their case.
It will also be interesting to see how much emphasis ABC gives to things like a federal “assault weapons” ban or even local gun control efforts like San Jose’s move to mandate insurance and charge a fee for all gun owners in the city, as opposed to non-punitive strategies like de-escalation, gang intervention, and violence interrupters. Will their “root causes” of crime focus on high unemployment rates, poverty levels, dysfunctional families, and crumbling institutions like the public school and criminal justice systems? Or will they decide that the primary root causes of gun violence are guns themselves and our Second Amendment rights?
If I were a betting man, I know where I’d be placing my money. I hope I’m wrong, but given how the media typically treats these issues, I have a feeling that “One Nation Under Fire” is going to end up being one network’s love letter to the gun control lobby.