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Tuesday, April 25, 2023
MRC Attacks Gun Violence Stats That Make Guns Look Bad
Topic: Media Research Center

One of the things the Media Research Center loves to do in order to distract from gun violence is quibble about how incidents of gun violence are counted -- and specifically attacking the statistics used by the Gun Violence Archive and cited by (non-right-wing) media outlets. Nicholas Fondacaro played this card after one mass shooting in a Jan. 24 post (boldface in original):

Since the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California on Saturday, viewers of English and Spanish broadcast networks have seen the reported number of mass shootings in the United States jump from 33 to 39 in just three days. And as CBS Morning’s co-host Nate Burleson put it on Tuesday, “my logic says that has to be wrong, those numbers have to be exaggerated, and they are not.” But Burleson should’ve listened to his logic because his instinct was correct. Yet, these networks have also ignored a recent study that shows an average of 1.67 million defensive gun uses per year.

In the last three days, the liberal broadcast networks and Spanish-language networks have cited the anti-gun Gun Violence Archive (GVA) 20 times. From Sunday morning to Tuesday morning (January 22-24) the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) cited the Gun Violence Archive 9 times during their morning and evening flagship newscasts. Telemundo and Univision cited GVA 11 times (including on their noon and late-night newscasts).

But as NewsBusters reported last year, Gun Violence Archive was not to be trusted because they inflate their numbers with an overly broad definition of mass shootings that doesn’t take into account certain facts like motive, location, type of crime, and the shooter. Even respected mass killings researchers don’t trust GVA’s numbers because they make most incidents look like public massacres.

Fondacaro is lying when he claims the GVA's numnbers are "untrustworthy" -- the GVA has made its methodology public. He simply doesn't like the numnbers being high because they don't make right-wing pro-gun agendas look good. Indeed, he tried to spin things in an attempt to make guns look good: "While the liberal media is intent on trampling on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms with false statistics on mass shootings, they’re flat-out ignoring an academic study from Georgetown University that shows 'guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year.'" Of course, defensive uses of guns mean nothing when guns are also used to kill -- not that Fondacaro will admit that, of course.

Fondacaro lashed out at the GVA and someone citing its numbers in a post two days later:

In response to a teacher getting shot by a 6-year-old in a Virginia school, where officials blatantly ignored multiple warnings that the kid had a gun that day, ABC co-host Joy Behar lashed out at law-abiding gun owners and other gun rights activists via The View on Thursday. She accused those millions of Americans of having a “mental illness” and demanded they “be stopped immediately.”

“We need to grow up,” Behar sneered at America while dubiously asserting that “[w]e're between Venezuela and Brazil with the most mass shootings.” “There were 40 mass shooting it in the first 24 days of this year,” she falsely proclaimed, parroting a statistic from Gun Violence Archive that NewsBusters has debunked multiple times.

Again, the GVA numbers are not "false" and have not been "debunked."

Fondacaro complained about a different set of numbers he didn't like in a Jan. 31 post:

In a supposed “fact-check” on Tuesday, Washington Post editor and “fact checker” Glenn Kessler published an analysis to tackle the understood notion that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. But the piece, titled “ What’s more common: A ‘good guy’ without a gun — or with one?”, muddied the waters and argued that the data is incomplete and inconclusive.


Kessler’s premise was flawed from the beginning; he narrows the cases to just mass shootings and limits who classifies as a good guy with a gun. Suggesting “neither is the norm,” he explains that he’ll be relying on the FBI’s data for this analysis, which he admits excludes armed intervention from security and police personnel (A.K.A good guys with guns):

Fondacaro did praise Kessler for citing numbers manufactured by right-wing research John Lott, then got mad he ultimately dismissed his numbers:

But Kessler does cite gun rights researcher John R. Lott Jr., who had compiled his own list “of more than 100 instances between 2014 and 2021, linked to news reports, when a citizen with a lawful firearm ended an active-shooting situation.”

But Kessler casts doubt on this too: “Lott has his own bias. He keeps track only of the active-shooter incidents that someone with a weapon has ended. So a list including instances when a person without a firearm ended the shooting could also be higher.”

The rest of the article largely examines the discrepancies between the lists, including conflicting arguments on which cases classify as mass shootings. Kessler ultimately throws up his hands:

Fondacaro repeated his praise of the Georgetown defensive-use study and took another shot at the GVA numbers, this time whining they were "inflated."

In the wake of the Nashville massacre, Curtis Houck took a whack at the numbersd again in a March 30 post:

CBS co-host, Democratic donor, and Obama family friend Gayle King opened the show’s “Eye Opener” by touting First Lady Jill Biden’s visit to Nashville “amid passionate pleas on Capitol Hill for changes to gun laws.” After that, CBS played a clip of [Rep. Jamaal] Bowman’s staged meltdown in which he asked whether Massie was “listening to what I’m saying.”

King circled back to this again in the show after a segment on the grief-stricken community, lamenting that “any change to our gun laws is still a tough sell” for those odious Republicans “[d]espite more than 130 mass shootings this year.” Without a credit, King sighted the Gun Violence Archive, which we’ve repeatedly took to task for cooking their books.

The GVA can't possibly be "cooking their books" when its methodology is public.

Fondacaro whined about yet another set of gun violence numbers he disapproved of in an April 12 post:

The liberal media are all for live fact-checks and dishing out Pinocchios when they’re targeting conservatives, but their obsessive desire to nitpick and say “It’s accurate, but…” goes right out the window when it’s for their agenda. This was the case on Wednesday’s CBS Mornings when they pushed a dubious “gun violence” study from the Kaiser Family Foundation that wrapped firearm accidents, suicides, and defensive uses together with mass shootings and crime for an anti-gun rights message.

“A shocking new survey reveals just how widespread gun violence is in this country. Just listen to these numbers,” co-anchor and Obama’s vacation pal Gayle King demanded of viewers, “early one in five adults, one in five, say they have had a family member killed with a gun.”

But according to the “key findings” of the study, that number also includes people who have committed suicide, something any honest observer wouldn’t think should be included under a banner that conjures images of mass shootings and gang shootouts.


Historically, roughly 65 percent of gun deaths in America are suicides but KFF uses outlier data from 2020-2021 to claim “about half of deaths (55%) in the U.S. involving guns are suicides.” Meanwhile, we saw crime start to rise during that same time.

It's almost as if Fondacaro doesn't think gun suicides should be counted as "real" deaths -- and that any numbers that don't mesh with right-wing narratives must be dismissed as "dubious."

Fondacaro used an April 17 post to dismiss a gun-related poll he didn't like:

As part of their Monday coverage of a tragic mass shooting at an Alabama birthday party, CBS Mornings revealed the results of new a CBS News/YouGov poll that purportedly showed 62 percent of Americans were in favor of a ban on AR-15s. Those findings flew in the face of similar recent polling that showed growing opposition to a ban.

Announcing the results was socialist co-host Tony Dokoupil, who was excited that 62 percent of respondents wanted the ban. “Well, more than 60 percent of Americans are in favor of an outright ban on AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. That's the type of gun used in school shootings in Nashville and Uvalde and so many other places,” he boasted.

But the findings didn’t mesh with a February ABC News/Washington Post poll that found only 47 percent supported a ban while 51 percent opposed it. And as The Reload’s Jake Foglemanmreported, ABC’s results were the latest in a series of polls that showed opposition to an assault weapons ban was growing in momentum.

The Reload is a right-leaning pro-gun website, so of course Fondacaro doesn't disclose its bias.

(Fondacaro's alleged evidence that Dokoupil is a "socialist," by the way, is a link to a segment he did three years ago explaining the inequitable distribution of wealth in the U.S. No evidence was offered that the segment represented Dokoupil's personal views.)

Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 25, 2023 10:27 PM EDT

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