Mass Shootings: The Media Misinformation Campaign - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Mass Shootings: The Media Misinformation Campaign

If there is any maxim religiously observed by the corporate news media, it is this: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Moreover, if the blood in question gushes from gunshot wounds inflicted by a deranged mass murderer, the major news outlets uniformly portray the crime as evidence of an ever-increasing wave of violence caused not by criminals but by their weapons. This narrative is a textbook example of misinformation whereby news organizations studiously ignore data and definitions on mass shootings developed by Congress, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement sources.

Congress has defined “mass killings” as “3 or more killings in a single incident,” and this is the general guideline used by the FBI in response to requests for assistance from local and state law enforcement agencies. A 2015 report for the Congressional Research Service defined the term “mass shooting” as a “multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms, within one event, and in one or more locations in close geographical proximity.” Yet the corporate media rarely refer to these sources in reports about mass murders involving guns. Instead, the most widely cited media source is the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

What is GVA? It is a “nonpartisan” organization launched in 2013 by Slate magazine and later taken over by Michael Klein of the leftist Sunlight Foundation. GVA’s definition of “mass shooting” is absurdly elastic, including gang-related shootings, gun crimes committed during robberies, and domestic violence. As of Tuesday morning, the GVA site listed 231 “mass shootings” that have purportedly occurred in 2022. It includes 87 incidents in which no one was killed, 17 that fit the three-death threshold set by Congress, and exactly two incidents — in Uvalde and Buffalo — that conform to the commonly understood definition of “mass shooting.”

Among GVA’s methodology issues is that most of its data comes from media reports. Thus, the media itself is the source for statistics such as those found in this NBC News story: Memorial Day weekend marked by “more than a dozen mass shootings” in the U.S. The GVA table cited by NBC lists 14 “mass shootings” from May 28 through May 30, including seven which resulted in no deaths, seven involving one fatality each, and one that resulted in two fatalities. According to GVA, these “mass shootings” also produced various unspecified injuries. Not to be outdone, BuzzFeed brayed, “More Than 130 People Were Shot And Killed Nationwide This Weekend”:

In just a 72-hour span over Memorial Day weekend, there were more than 300 shooting incidents across the US, according to data tabulated by the Gun Violence Archive. More than 130 people were killed, including a 16-year-old girl and 21-year-old woman shot dead around 1 a.m. on Monday at a holiday party in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood. Many of the other shootings injured just one person. But some, like the gunfire that erupted on an interstate in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, wounded as many as seven.

BuzzFeed, like NBC, links to a GVA table, which on Tuesday morning showed that 226 of the listed incidents resulted in no deaths. There were 104 shootings that resulted in one death each and 10 that produced two fatalities each. Numerous injuries are also listed, but GVA provides no data concerning their nature or severity. Nothing on the list can be credibly characterized as a mass shooting. Yet CBS and BuzzFeed are by no means alone in their irresponsible reporting on gun violence. A recent story by NPR claimed, “The U.S. has surpassed 200 mass shootings this year.” The source for this report was the same GVA misinformation discussed above.

Even “America’s paper of record” uncritically prints GVA data. The New York Times recently reported that there had been 693 mass shootings in 2021. The GVA table used to support this nonsense fails to survive close scrutiny. Of the 693 “mass shootings,” 301 caused zero deaths. Another 231 resulted in one fatality each. Of the 693 listed by GVA, just two caused deaths exceeding single digits. All of which raises this question: Why would the media undermine a serious discussion about mass shootings by using tainted data from CVA? Former CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin writes in the Atlantic that all they really care about is clicks and eyeballs:

The news media will be in Texas through this weekend, and then news executives will start paring down the coverage.… After a week or 10 days, the outraged public grows tired of hearing about the carnage, loss, and inaction. The audience starts to drop off. The ratings dip. And networks worry about their bottom line. And while the journalists in the field have compassion for the victims of these tragic stories, their bosses at the networks treat the news as ratings-generating revenue sources. No ratings? Less coverage. It’s as simple as that.

Then all the “journalists” will go back to the Beltway, and the coverage will turn to the politics of gun control. The Democrats will demand that, in order to stop the carnage, unconstitutional laws must be passed by Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris has already called for a ban on “assault weapons,” and President Joe Biden openly states the ownership of 9mm handguns should not be legal. Beto O’Rourke has confirmed that he is the dumbest politician in Texas by exploiting the death of 19 children to promote his gun confiscation agenda. Meanwhile, the “news” media applaud these ghouls and continue to work with GVA on their misinformation campaign.

David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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