Thursday, March 12, 2009

Remember, Media Bias Does Not Exist

A few years ago, the annual "Lobbying Day" for the ISRA was a small affair. Then the ISRA decided that it was possible to grow it into a signature event, and they began putting a lot more effort into it and asking for more effort from others as well. The event did grow year by year, going from an event of a hundred people or so to 300, to 500, to 750, and so on. The year before last, they had over 1,000 people and were thrilled. Last year, it drew about 2,500 people. Through all that time, television, radio and print news ignored the event almost completely. Tom Shafer, Gadfly in Chief of the Sangamon County Rifle Association, contacted the news director at WICS TV 20 in Springfield to ask, in his own inimitable fashion, why the station had chosen not to cover such an event.

"I told her, look at that picture and tell me that ain't news!" Tom says. "A march of people for a cause, shuts down all the streets it passes, fills up the capitol outside and in, people marching for a civil right, and that ain't news? That's crazy!"

"You're right," he says he was told, "that's news, and we should have been there. I'll have somebody there for sure this year."

Well, the good news is that they did send someone to cover the event. The bad news is that they used very little of the video they took. The rest of the piece was filled in with stock footage of a local gun shop. The really bad news is that they used the voiceover to turn the piece into a chance to take a pot shot at those crazy, paranoid gun cranks:
"Thousands of gun rights supporters marched through downtown Springfield Wednesday to make their point clear, they want to be able to carry guns on them wherever they go.

Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton do not support conceal and carry.

Gun rights activists are optimistic, however, because three different conceal and carry bills have passed through legislative committees this year.

After the gun rights rally, thousands went inside the Capitol to lobby lawmakers to support conceal and carry.

We checked with the secretary of state's office to see if anyone tried to bring a gun into the capitol to prove a point.

An S.O.S. spokesman says they didn't find anyone."
Really? After years of coming to the capitol in ever-increasing numbers, lobbying lawmakers in a peaceful fashion, and developing a friendly relationship with the Secretary of State police officers who guard the place . . . . gun owners did the same thing again this year? Shocking. That's really news, all right.

Now, here's the real crux of the story: it doesn't really matter what they said. They can insert whatever snide, insulting commentary they want. The truth is that we didn't need them in order to grow the event. We didn't depend on their "news" coverage to go from a few hundred to 1000 to 2500 to 3500 citizen lobbyists traveling to the capitol on their own dimes, paying their own ways, not getting even the proverbial free lunch. We did it all without them, and they have nothing we really need to offer and nothing to withold. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what they say about us, because the important part is that they were forced to say anything at all. They can insult us, but they can't ignore us.

Hey, don't forget about IGOLD 2010. Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at the state capitol building in Springfield. Be there!