SHOULD WE OUTLAW PRESS COVERAGE OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS? | 2001-03-17
When President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963, Lyndon Johnson was at a dead end. He was an older vice president under the young president. He and Kennedy greatly disliked each other. Johnson was shut out of White House decision-making.
Also, contrary to all accepted history now, John Kennedy was enormously unpopular just before he was killed. If Kennedy had lived, Goldwater stood an excellent chance against him in 1964. The prejudice against Southerners in the presidency was at its peak. Johnson was from Texas.
In other words, Johnson's career was blocked.
So when Kennedy was killed and Johnson was sworn into the office of his lifelong dream, he had to act as if he were deeply saddened at Kennedy's death. But I don't think any human could have been entirely unhappy in his position.
The media were in the same situation when the school shootings took place at the high school in Littleton, Colorado. Liberals had to act sad. But they were also ecstatic. Liberals thought that this, at last, had cinched their case for outlawing private guns. One magazine, when presenting a column against gun control, said, "It should be added that this was written before the school shootings at Littleton, Colorado."
In other words, the media assumed the Littleton shootings would end all arguments for private gun ownership. But they also had to act sad about it, like Lyndon in 1963.
The media thought they had it all, and boy did they celebrate -- under the guise of covering the deaths, of course. There is no room in the media to report black-on-white hate crime or a couple of million incidents of self-defense with weapons, but boy was there ever room for Littleton! It seemed that every student at the school was interviewed, and all the parents of victims - except the one who was against gun control.
Even the whole funeral of the students was covered coast-to-coast live.
But the media are used to respectable conservatives, and they assume everybody on the other side is that weak and stupid. Just before the 2000 election, they assumed the American public would not understand it if the president was elected with a lesser number of POPULAR votes. They thought it would cause a crisis. Actually, people were not even all that surprised.
Likewise, the Littleton incident did not cause the uprising of ignorant peasants that the media had expected. Gun laws will not prevent that sort of thing, and everybody knows it. The media's Littleton celebration was premature.
But a lot of bullied kids did see all the coverage the Littleton murders got. The less stable of them learned that, if their meaningless life was to change and they were to get national coverage, all they had to do was produce one of those school killings. Recently, in Santee, California, a bullied student did just that.