Media Ignores Bias Of <em>The Trace</em>

When it comes to The Trace, anyone who cares to look can see their biases. After all, they’re funded by Michael Bloomberg and their journalism almost universally takes an anti-gun lean. While they claim to be “an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis,” we all know where their biases lie.

And, to be fair, I don’t think The Trace really tries that hard to pretend those biases aren’t there. After all, it’s not like they’re looking to bring on pro-gun writers to provide a counterpoint to anything.

However, it seems the rest of the media likes to pretend those biases don’t exist.

NPR, Politico, Time, and Scientific American are unlikely ever to pay an NRA employee to write news articles about gun control. But they have no problem hiring people who work for The Trace, a Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control organization. Even in the very hypothetical case that these publications did use an NRA-influenced article, they would undoubtedly include a disclaimer warning readers of the possible bias.

The Trace, which has made a business out of attacking people who have received money from gun rights organizations, doesn’t receive the same scrutiny from the rest of the media. Instead, news outlets hide or ignore The Trace’s financial ties to Bloomberg. NPR describes it as “an independent, nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to covering issues related to guns in America.” When I pointed out to a senior editor at Scientific American that contributing editor Melinda Wenner Moyer is also a regular paid writer for The Trace, he insisted that none of his staff had a conflict of interest and that The Trace was a nonprofit newsroom.

And they are a non-profit newsroom.

That doesn’t mean they’re an unbiased newsroom. Arguably, the NRA’s First Freedom is a non-profit newsroom, too, but no one seems interested in considering them unbiased. That’s because they’re not. They’re biased as hell, just like we are.

Just like The Trace is.

This past week, Moyer had a piece at The Trace arguing that the increase in gun sales over the last few months is linked to the recent surge in urban shootings. In another, she claimed that guns don’t keep one’s family safer.

But Moyer fails to mention the standing down and disbandment of police units, or the release of prisoners amid the pandemic. These factors can lead to a surge in crime. She ignores that the causation with gun sales might be going the other way, with people buying guns as they see the breakdown of the legal system and having to rely on themselves for protection. Instead, she blames the 30% increase in murders in New York City or the 78% increase in Chicago in June on gun sales that increased the national supply of firearms by only a couple of percentage points.

The Trace toes the same ideological line as Bloomberg’s other nonprofit gun control organizations, such as Everytown for Gun Safety. A search through the last several years of The Trace’s articles does not reveal any with a pro-gun slant. Not a single one approvingly discusses research that has found a benefit from gun ownership.

And, it’s not going to.

The Trace isn’t about presenting pro-gun research, and I’m fine with that. They’re biased and we all know it. I’d rather they be a bit more upfront about it, but they do less claiming of neutrality than some of the other anti-gun media outlets around, so I’ll cut them some slack. Not much, but some.

However, Moyer and people like him don’t get any of that.

You see, as John Lott who wrote the above-linked piece notes, while every person who ever worked for the NRA will be treated as some kind of pariah, veterans of The Trace are treated like legitimate, unbiased colleagues. That’s simply not right.

And yet, these same people can’t figure out why so few Americans trust the media anymore. It’s a mystery to them.