Each week, USA TODAY’s OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other’s media bubble.
This week, the nation saw different reactions to the massacre of 58 concert-goers in Las Vegas on Sunday. While many on the left called for gun control immediately after the shooting, pundits on the right said it was insensitive to “politicize” the tragedy.
“Hillary Clinton never misses a chance to exploit a tragedy for her own personal and political gain,” wrote Gregg Jarrett for Fox News Opinion.
Jarrett called Clinton a “hypocrite” for calling on Americans to “put politics aside” even as she told people to “stand up to the NRA” and said more people would have died if the Las Vegas gunman had a silencer.
“Clinton knows nothing about firearms, although she purports to be an instant expert on everything,” Jarrett said. He pointed out that gun experts refer to silencers as suppressors because they reduce, but do not eliminate the sound of gunfire.
Jarrett — who accused Clinton of ignoring “facts and existing law” — asserted that the gunman used an “illegal” fully automatic weapon, a fact not confirmed by police (at least 12 weapons had legal modifications to increase their rate of fire). Jarrett also misstated the law in saying automatic weapons are illegal. In fact, there are legal ways a civilian can acquire a machine gun.
In response to people like Senate Majority Leader Chuck McConnell who thought it was “premature” to discuss gun control measures after the shooting, Daily Kos contributing editor Michael Lazzaro asked if it was OK to talk about legislative solutions to other mass shootings.
“What about the Umpqua Community College mass shooting, in Oregon? It’s been two years since that one, is it still premature?” Lazzaro asked. “What about the race-motivated murders of black American churchgoers in South Carolina? What about Sandy Hook?”
If now is not the time to talk about what we as a nation can do to limit the ability of a lone gunman to rapidly murder 59 Americans and injured hundreds — fine. We can oblige that. So let’s instead discuss what we as a nation can do to prevent the hundreds of other mass murders that have happened during 2017 aside from that one. Or during 2016. Or during 2014. We can pick any one of them and respond, as a nation, to that
Hawkins called Chicago a “case study in the ineffectiveness of gun control; an example of how murder numbers rise when strict gun control laws are in place.”
“Where is the hand-wringing” for the deaths in Chicago? Hawkins asked. Rather than calling for more control, Kimmel should be outraged at how people in Chicago have a hard time getting handguns for self-defense, he said.
Late night show host Jimmy Kimmel was brought to tears while calling for tougher gun laws in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in his hometown of Las Vegas.
When Jimmy Kimmel “took the stage Monday to talk about what happened in Las Vegas this weekend, he was despairing in a way that is not often seen on television, particularly not in comedy,” wrote Matthew Dessem for Slate.
Dessem said Kimmel “delivered a vision of the future that was no less depressing for being correct” by calling out the NRA and politicians who oppose gun control legislation.
Kimmel’s sincere and raw approach is the only way to do it, really: This is not the kind of message anyone should want (or need) to sell to an audience with guile or pretense. It’s just the truth, and we can all feel it. Things aren’t right.
From the right: The Vegas shooting doesn’t add up
A post from David French on Nation Review that called the shooting “very, very strange” gained a lot of traction on social media.
French addressed the unusual aspects of the shooting: Eric Paddock saying his brother was not a “gun guy”; how rare automatic fire is; Paddock’s unusual background; and ISIS “tripling down” on its claim of responsibility for the attack — “a claim I initially discounted,” French said. French also cited reports that a woman told people “you’re all going to die tonight,” 45 minutes before the concert.
French insisted he was not “implying any sort of conspiracy theory of any kind,” but it is easy to see how readers could infer otherwise amid a flurry of false information on social media (much of it from the infamous Sandy Hook denier, Alex Jones). The Young Conservatives blog, referring to French as an “expert,” heavily referenced his post in explaining why “all this doesn’t add up.” Former Alaska governor shared the Young Conservatives post on Facebook, along with a suggestive “hmmm … ”
From the left: America has a ‘white man problem’
As she watched news of the shooting unfold, Salon’s Chauncey Devega found herself saying, “Please God, don’t let these killers be black.”
“I doubt I was alone in such sentiments,” she said. “In a country stuck in the grip of a white backlash and resurgent white supremacy, black and brown folks don’t need any further troubles.”
When Devega learned the shooter was white was relieved.
“Whenever a white man commits an act of mass gun violence in America — politically motivated or otherwise -— there is a cultural script that is closely followed by the mainstream news media, politicians and too many members of the public,” she said.
When white folks commit horrible crimes their actions are often placed in a context where they are described as “good people” and “all American.” This is all so “surprising” and “unimaginable,” we are told, because this person was so “ordinary.” By comparison, when black or brown folks or Muslims commit horrible crimes they are usually depicted as one-dimensional monsters.