Coronation Coverage

The amazing thing about the gun-control debate is that nobody really seems to get the point ­ not the Republicans, not the Democrats, and certainly not the press. All three certainly missed it in the Sept. 22 Austin American-Statesman's front-page article titled "Bush targets illegal gun use."

Gov. Bush and state Attorney General John Cornyn trotted out their oddly named "Texas Exile" program the day before, insisting that the program is intended to enforce existing gun laws and has nothing to do with the mass killings which have recently swept America and the political firestorm they have stirred up.

The Democratic National Committee then offered its rebuttal, saying that Bush's 1997 loosening of concealed gun restrictions "make[s] it harder to prosecute gunmen carrying deadly weapons into churches and school events," an obvious reference to the recent Fort Worth church slayings.

The problem is, the whole argument is being portrayed incorrectly. The problem isn't concealed weapons. The problem isn't lax laws. The problem is too damned many guns, period.

The political timing on this announcement is obvious, and to Statesman reporter Ken Herman's credit, he didn't seem to buy Bush's claims to the contrary. But the concealed weapons laws didn't cause the Fort Worth slayings, either. Buried deep in Herman's story was an admission from Bush that Texas Exile would do nothing to deter nuts with easy access to guns. That's the real issue, and Herman should have made it the lead paragraph and the main thrust of the story, rather than letting Bush and the DNC dictate the terms of the debate.

In other Bush coverage, the New York-based activist group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (http://www.fair.org), in the September/ October issue of its magazine Extra!, took a swipe at ABC's Good Morning America. FAIR's target was a June 14 GMA report on Bush's campaign trip to New Hampshire, in which reporter Dean Reynolds vowed to closely scrutinize Bush's Texas twang, his cowboy boots, and his belt buckle, and how they all played up in "Yankee-land."

"Wouldn't it be nice," FAIR asked, "if ABC's reporters would promise to be that diligent about policy issues?"

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