Co-opting children for political gain

Originally published on The American Thinker, March 6th, 2018.

Liberal activists are allowing – even encouraging – students to leave class, protest, and generally disregard their hierarchies of authority in the wake of the Parkland shooting.  The mainstream media are actively cheerleading for this educational anarchy by providing these children with constant airtime on national programs and social media.  Regardless of where one stands on the Second Amendment, the media’s shameless exploitation of children in the aftermath of a tragedy is entirely reprehensible – and we must call them out on it.

The first component of the media’s effort to co-opt children establishes high school students as experts on gun policy.  Framing students as credible experts on gun policy is simply irresponsible.  Media titans are fully aware that these students are not the most knowledgeable sources to showcase in this debate, but they choose to pass them off as such nonetheless.  Would the media rely on high school students as experts on the stock market, national security, or any other complex issue?

For the leftist media, these children afford a barrier between themselves and their critics.  News outlets hide behind distraught families and devastated young children because they understand the impact this emotional appeal has to their audience.  The media’s effort to conscript children for political gain is also visible in the total coverage this tragedy has received.  Prominent news networks are spotlighting this shooting to an unprecedented degree: more than twice that of the Las Vegas shooting from just a few months prior.  Notably, there were 32% more mentions of “gun control” on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and 55% more mentions on ABC, CBS, and NBC broadcasts nationally, in the wake of Parkland than in the aftermath of Las Vegas.  The question, then, is, why did the mainstream media decide to up their ante with Parkland (which, while unthinkably tragic, had significantly fewer victims)?  Because children are involved, and the media know that kids generate better ratings and will make their case for gun control more persuasive.

Lastly, the media are also using child victims in order to promote a false paradigm – they ascribe unsympathetic motives to supporters of the Second Amendment in framing the debate as “those who believe in gun ownership don’t care about dead children.”  This sleight of hand is disgraceful.

The media intentionally exclude arguments from supporters of the Second Amendment on how to reduce gun violence.  During NPR’s coverage of the Parkland incident last week, the network did not include a single pro-gun guest or opinion.  The anchors also based much of their criticism on a selectively edited excerpt from an NRA statement about corporate support for the organization.

In all, the media’s handling of the incident is evidence that they don’t want viewers to see a balanced debate on how to prevent mass shootings; they want the public to turn against the Second Amendment at the sight of traumatized children.

The media coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting is proof that the anti-American media are willing to run roughshod over any obstacle in the pursuit of their agenda.  The irony of this approach is that the industry could, potentially, make an argument for greater gun regulation without sacrificing its credibility by shamelessly co-opting children for political gain.  If the power-players in the media want to both ethically and effectively convince audiences that their resolution is the correct one, they should stick to a reasoned policy debate.  Then, and only then, will critics and indifferent onlookers alike view their recommendations in a legitimate light.

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