Just moments after President Trump offered some comments on gun control in connection to the horrific mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, CNN’s John Berman omitted a key qualifier the president included that changed the tenor of his statement and once again demonstrated that CNN is concerned more about narrative than accuracy.
On Tuesday, Trump said in response to a question from a “grandstanding” reporter that stricter vetting would not have prevented the shooting — as shooter Devin Kelley was not legally allowed to purchase guns — and noted that if we had stricter vetting for purchasing guns, “you might not have had that very brave person [Stephen Willeford] who happened to have a rifle in his truck, go out and shoot him and hit him, and neutralize him.”
Here’s the moment:
While Trump gets a detail from the encounter wrong — Willeford got his gun from the safe in his house — he is right that Willeford, who is an NRA instructor, used his rifle, an AR-15, to shoot Kelley and end his murderous campaign.
CNN’s Berman paraphrased Trump by leaving out the qualifier “might,” claiming Trump said “had there been stricter gun laws, the hero here would not have been able to do what he did.”
The moment was noticed by Love Breeds Accountability‘s Hrand Tookman, who posted clips of Trump’s statement and Berman’s immediate misrepresentation of it:
While misparaphrasing of course happens at times unintentionally, CNN conveniently seems to misquote and misrepresent — both subtly and unsubtly — in a way that helps them criticize Trump and others on the right.
The real problem with discussions of “stricter vetting” and “gun control” is that the terms are ill-defined. Only discussions of specific gun laws are actually useful. If the discussion is on providing more strict requirements for who is allowed to purchase a gun, then it depends on what those requirements are to determine if Willeford would or would not be impacted by those laws. If by gun control one means the banning of all “assault rifles,” which gun control advocates are constantly pushing for, then Trump is right that Willeford could not legally have used an AR-15 to take out the shooter, like he did. In other words, “might” was a wisely chosen qualifier that CNN conveniently left out to try, once again, to play “gotcha” with the president.