Thursday’s gun massacre in Oregon occurred three days before the Sunday shows, so it was old news to many of them this week. Move along, move along, they seemed to say. There’s nothing to see here.
Most obvious at this approach was “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, which gave eight minutes to the story in the last quarter of a one-hour show.
Dismissing President Obama’s plea for sane gun-safety measure, Fox panelist Brit Hume said of the President that confiscation of firearms “is the kind of control he likes.”
“What common-sense measures does he mean?” Mr. Hume said. “It’s a quixotic mission.”
It got only slightly better on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos during his interview with Presidential candidate Donald Trump, the leader in the Republican Presidential polls.
“He’s a great divider,” Mr. Trump said of the President. “. . . This kind of crime has taken place forever . . . that’s the way the world goes . .. . the gun laws have nothing to do with it.”
Later, panelist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post offered a more realistic reaction.
“I have two daughters on college campuses,” she said. “I watch these things and I am terrified.”
In Thursday’s shooting spree on a community college campus, at least 10 persons died, including the gunman, who owned 13 legal firearms.
Mark Leibovich, a New York Times writer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd, said guns laws don’t change due to the opposition of the National Rifle Association.
“The NRA pretty much owns more than half of Congress,” he said.
On this notion, the best comment came from Jonathan Alter, who appeared on MSNBC on Al Sharpton’s “Politics Nation,” which has been moved from weekdays at 6 p.m. to Sunday only at 8 a.m.
Alter said he had written on the web site The Daily Beast that the President should debate on national television against Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the NRA.
“This is a nation that only responds to drama on live television,” Mr. Alter said, predicting that Mr. Obama would “clean the clock” of the man who represents gun dealers under the guise of Second Amendment “rights.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, a guest was Mark Kelly, the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a mass shooting.
“We sell 40 per cent of our guns without a background check,” he said.
Also treating the issue seriously was Mr. Todd, who noted there have been 294 mass shootings (four or more victims) this year. Then he played clips from Republican Presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ben Carson.
“Criminals don’t follow gun laws,” said Mr. Rubio, a Republican U.S. Senator from Florida.
“It doesn’t work for crazies,” Dr. Carson said.
Perhaps the most unintentionally honest line came from Howard Kurtz on “Media Buzz” on Fox. He concluded a gun-safety conversation with “There is no magic bullet.”
Otherwise, most of the shows included a mishmash of recent events, including the statement of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who may have jeopardized his chance to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House by implying that the Benghazi investigation of four murders in Libya is merely a political ploy to hurt Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State.
Mr. Hume on Fox suggested Mr. McCarthy has given the Democrats and Ms. Clinton “a shillelagh they can beat the Republicans over the head with ad infinitum.”
Perhaps that’s why Fox gave so much time to an interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) who challenged Mr. McCarthy after Mr. McCarthy’s accidental truth-telling.
He said his colleagues have told him “Please, Jason, do this.” Curiously, Fox avoided discussing Mr. Chaffetz’s kangaroo court last week in which he led a committee chorus of Congressional hecklers against Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood.
On another of the week’s major issues – Russian involvement in the Syrian civil war – Mr. Trump on ABC said something insightful that may have been overlooked among his continual bluster.
He referred to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by President George Bush, a mistake causing much of the current Mideast disruption.
“This country screwed up the Middle East so badly by breaking up Iraq,” Mr. Trump said. “We have so destabilized the Mideast. It’s a mess.”
Like the chimpanzee with the typewriter who occasionally spells a real word, Mr. Trump from time to time actually says things that make sense. He makes enemies of people like Rand Paul, the Republican Presidential candidate and U.S. senator from Kentucky.
“I just don’t believe he’s a true conservative,” Mr. Paul said of Mr.Trump on “Media Buzz.” “Being for higher taxes. Being for a single payer health system. Those aren’t conservative notions.” He suggested that Mr. Trump is a “fake conservative” and that “there are some clownish things he has said.”
One of them may have been in answer to the American plan to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees. Mr. Trump compared it to a “Trojan Horse” that could allow terrorists into the U.S. On another issue, Mr. Trump, who proposed a new tax system last week, refused to disclose his own tax rate. “I’m not going to say,” Mr. Trump said.
On Rev. Sharpton’s show, Ms. Clinton said of Mr. Trump: “He has been stoking prejudice and paranoia. He’s been really appealing to the worst instincts of human nature. I think it’s dangerous. His demagoguery is no longer amusing.”
Bur Mr. Leibovich said on NBC: “Anyone who is dismissive of Donald Trump at this point – particularly the media – is an idiot.”