COLUMN: More than meets the eye (or ear): Putting the media ‘under the gun’

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Hey! Did you hear Katie Couric got exposed for touting her left-wing anti-gun agenda in a new TV documentary called “Under the Gun”? Big surprise, huh?

Oh please, it’s no shock to anyone who has been paying attention. The mainstream media and the left-wing political establishment have been playing footsie for longer than anyone remembers.

Just last week, in addition to the misleading editing in Couric’s documentary, it was revealed that the U.S. State Department had intentionally edited out a question and answer from the online archive of a press conference from 2013.

Fox News reporter James Rosen had asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether her predecessor had lied when she told Rosen there had been no “direct secret bilateral talks” between the United States and Iran.

Psaki didn’t confirm that anyone from the State Department had lied, but she noted in classic doublespeak that “there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress.”

So what did the “most transparent administration in history” do about it when they realized the Q&A session was “politically inconvenient” if not incorrect? Why, easy! They sent it down George Orwell’s “memory hole,” the final resting place in “Nineteen Eighty Four” for all such “inconvenient” facts. The video was edited, and the exchange magically disappeared due to what the State Department first called a “glitch” and last week confirmed was instead political manipulation by some unnamed bureaucrat who ordered another unnamed bureaucrat to “excise the video.” Oops, but no harm, no foul, right?

Interestingly, the reason this unethical edit was discovered is because Rosen was following up on a New York Times article that revealed that the Obama administration had manipulated reporters in order to pursue their agenda of getting the public behind the Iran nuclear deal. As described by Abigail Williams on the nbcnews.com website, the New York Times article “portrayed White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes as bragging that his war room had created an ‘echo-chamber’ for hundreds of often clueless reporters covering the [Iran deal] negotiations.”

It’s hard to know what is worse: “clueless reporters” being manipulated by government officials to spread propaganda, or deceptive reporters manipulating video to spread their own propaganda?

In the latter category, we have the aforementioned Katie Couric documentary which infamously tried to make gun-rights advocates look like they were totally stumped by Couric’s “hard-line” questioning.

Couric asks, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” Then, for eight long seconds the camera pans over several members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League as they appear to be at a total loss for words. If the documentary had aired on Comedy Central instead of Epix, the soundtrack would have added the disconcerting chirping of crickets to emphasize the silence in the room.

Fortunately, audio of the actual interview exists — and reveals that there was no pause at all as the Second Amendment supporters immediately point out first that many felons have their gun rights restored after serving their sentence, and second that in other cases laws exist to prevent certain “classes of people from being in possession of firearms.”

The goal of the editing by director Stephanie Soechtig was, plain and simple, to make it look like Second Amendment supporters don’t know what they are talking about, and in particular don’t have any viable answers to serious questions.

This kind of spin has been going on for a long time, which is why the trust level for journalists is unfortunately low. I wrote about Couric’s dishonesty way back in 2008 after her famous interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, then running for vice president. In that interview, Couric made up a statement and attributed it to Palin and then challenged her to defend it.

That was all part of the famous false narrative that Palin had said she could see Russia from her house. She didn’t. Comedian Tina Fey did. But it all started because Charlie Gibson of ABC News produced a deceptively edited interview with Palin in which she gave quite a thorough analysis of U.S.-Russian relations. Asked about her statement that the Russians are “next door neighbors” of Alaska, she noted, “I’m giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relations with all of these countries, especially Russia.”

That entire (and entirely reasonable) response was edited out of the interview, along with about half of her concerns about Russia. Why? Because it sounded too coherent, too intelligent and too (yeah) reasonable for a Republican ... Palin had to be put in her place.

Then when Couric did her interview with Palin a few weeks later, she said to the governor, “You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?”

Of course, Palin never said any such thing, but what she did say only saw the light of day in a transcript released by ABC News, but read by only a fraction of the people who saw the original faked interview. As always (until Donald Trump) the media controlled the narrative.

So, whether the government is faking history or the press is faking interviews, the losers are everyday Americans. Do you agree? Millions of people do.

I’m a member of the press, and have been for many years. I recognize that a free press is vital to our continued freedom, but I’m not sure that what we have at the national level is a free press any longer so much as a “bought and paid for” press. Trump says the “political press is among the most dishonest people” he has ever met. I don’t know about that, but it’s plain that a lot of them are either “dishonest” or “clueless.” Take your pick.

And if you want to consider yourself truly informed, do yourself a favor: Dig deeper. There’s more there than meets the eye (or the ear).

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