The saga of the fraudulent map of “school shootings” pumped out by Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” group is fascinating, especially given how quickly the fraud was exposed and destroyed. This group was caught in a lie, pure and simple… and the lie went down so hard that CNN got in on the act.
But it was journalist Charles C. Johnson who took this thing apart, and he did it on Twitter. The Blaze has a collection of Johnson’s Tweets on the topic. The gun-control group claimed there have been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School horror in 2012. Johnson simply started looking those incidents up, one at a time – something every single media organization reporting on this claim should have done – and discovered “school shooting” was not even remotely accurate as a description for them. The list provided by Everytown included criminals who managed to get themselves shot near schools, shootings that occurred in school parking lots after hours, accidents, suicides, and of course gang violence. The latter is an example of a tactic dishonestly used by gun-control propagandists for years – they love to portray gang fights as “children” getting killed by guns.
Johnson also highlighted a “school shooting” that never actually happened, and one that appears to have been a case of self-defense, in which a 24-year-old man used a gun to fend off multiple twenty-something attackers, who were beating him with a pool cue. But that all went into the blender to produce a false statistic guaranteed to bring attention from credulous media, which tends to uncritically run with talking points that come from favored groups, and agree with cherished media narratives.
This particular debunking has been up by CNN, however, which appears to be angry that it got hoodwinked by Everytown for Gun Safety. They’ve returned to the topic several times, including a segment that made it clear mass shootings are not on the rise.
I think we can all agree that any number of school shootings is too many, and it’s easy to understand why big headline horrors coming in rapid succession can build an impression that is not supported by calm statistical analysis. That’s just human nature, although gun control is not the only subject where sensational media coverage distorts public perception of how severe or widespread a crisis actually is – a lot of the “climate change” movement’s energy comes from capitalizing on public mood swings about the frequency of severe weather events, caused by imbibing too deeply of headline news coverage. A responsible media should go the extra mile to bring forth the sober statistical analysis experts, especially when some pressure group uses an eye-popping number to push its press releases into the news.
This sort of thing has been going on for a long time, as demonstrated by everything from scholarly journalistic reviews to hoaxes perpetrated by pranksters who wanted to prove that news organizations will ask few questions about press releases which support their biases. What I find remarkable about this particular instance is how swiftly and easily so much of Everytown’s propaganda was debunked by Charles C. Johnson – who, as you can see from his Twitter messages, basically just took the list and started Googling, guided by his instinct that the gun-control group’s claim was fishy. Every large media organization should have done that, before reporting the press release as “news” – there were only 74 entries to check, so a research team could make short work of it. But what good is a research team if everyone says “this supports what we already believe, and the people who sent it are ‘good guys,’ so we’ll just run with it?”
One might suppose Everytown would be worried about the risk to its credibility. They probably didn’t expect the level of scrutiny they’ve received, and I suspect they’ll have a cooler reception the next time they try to get on CNN. But they also accomplished important goals by putting their propaganda on a wide media stage, cross-linked by countless Web sites… very few of which will carry the debunking. After President Obama was busted for using phony statistics to push his “pay gap” narrative, there was much talk about his adviser David Plouffe’s theory of “stray voltage,” which holds that controversy is great for getting politically useful ideas lodged in the public mind, even when some of the controversy blows back against the idea-pusher. In other words, it doesn’t matter if your 74 school shootings or 77-cent pay gap for women is nonsense, as long the controversy gets people talking about shootings and pay gaps.
Does the gun-control movement ever tell the truth about anything? For people with a supposedly iron-clad argument they hold with nearly religious conviction, they seem awfully insecure about making their case honestly – from incorrectly using firearms terminology such as “assault weapon,” to stampeding the public with exaggerated statistics. Some of the former might be dismissed as ignorance of something they want power over, but find extremely distasteful – they don’t feel the need to understand either firearms, or the fine points of the gun laws they wish to rewrite. But cooked statistics like Everytown’s phony map are deliberate lies, created by people who know exactly what they’re doing.
So, what was the true number of school shootings since Newtown? Johnson and CNN have different tallies, but even CNN’s higher number is a far cry from what Everytown for Gun Safety claimed.
Sure, 15 (CNN number) or 7 (real number) school shootings are all tragic. But why the need to lie to 74? Because they want to scare you.
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) June 13, 2014
For the benefit of anyone in the mainstream media who still doesn’t get it: what Johnson did is called journalism.