After a slow start in covering the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin at the hands of self-appointed Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman, Fox News is playing catch-up with more comprehensive coverage today. But on America Live, instead of concentrating on the tragedy itself, Martha McCallum and Trace Gallagher focused on National Rifle Association complaints that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence were using the shooting to call for tighter controls on firearms, and used selectively edited clips of the 911 tapes to further the Fox spin.
After introducing the piece over a banner that read "Anti-Gun Advocates Use Teen's Death To Go After NRA" - a banner which stayed onscreen throughout the segment - McCallum tossed to Trace Gallagher, saying "...the alleged gunman claiming that it was self defence, and now anti-gun advocates say the 911 calls from some witnesses prove otherewise, and they're using them as ammunition in a new attack on the National Rifle Association."
Gallagher commented on a number of clips from the 911 calls, interjecting facts and comments as he went along, such as the following:
Zimmerman: "He looks black." Gallagher: "He says he thinks he's black but later told police he did not know his race." Good thing you told us that, Trace, just in case some bleeding heart libs try to play the race card or sumthin'. But, gee, why didn't you tell us these pesky facts?
- Moments after Zimmerman said "He looks black," he continued, "He's a black male."
- According to the Miami Herald, the local police chief, Bill Lee, told the paper that the tapes of the 911 calls would prove the incident was not a case of racial profiling, "because when asked whether the suspect was white or black he said he did not know." In other words, the police chief misrepresented what was on the tape - and it appears that Gallagher reported it as if this was a statement made by Zimmerman himself later on.
Gallagher played a few more clips from the 911 tapes - including a harrowing excerpt where Trayvon Martin can be clearly heard crying our for help and then being shot - and then returned to the spin du jour. "Florida is also a "Stand Your Ground" state which means that you can use guns or other deadly force as self defense without backing out of a confrontation. Now, the National Rifle Association backed that law, and now the Brady Campaign, which pushes for tougher gun laws, says that's the NRA's vision for America."
Here is what the Brady Campaign President Dan Gross said:
Make no mistake: This tragic shooting represents the National Rifle Association's vision for America. The NRA's vision is an America that looks just like Florida, where it's easy for criminals and dangerous people to get, carry, and use guns. The NRA wants us to be a nation without any gun laws, a nation where just about anybody can get a gun and take it anywhere. Their leaders and spokespeople use fear, paranoia and misleading notions of self-defense to justify flooding our streets with armed and violent people, and the result is more tragedies like Trayvon's. Trayvon's life has been lost not because of an accident, but because of the easy access to a gun by a violent person permitted by a state with weak gun laws.
Yep, he said it. But isn't that precisely what the NRA do want? I'm sure we'd all be very interested if one of our NRA-supporting readers (we know you're out there) can supply us with evidence which would refute apparent facts such as the ones the Brady Campaign have published here demonstrating that the USA's lax gun laws, lobbied for by the wealthy NRA, make it far too easy for criminals and nutjobs to get hold of guns.
Then, unbelievably, Trace Gallgher wrapped up his report on this horrible tragedy this way:
"It's important to point out that gun sales in this country have never been higher and the crime rate, says the FBI, is very low." * Only on Fox News could a reporter say that to camera with a straight face while recounting the tragic gun death of an innocent teenager.
As the mother of a teenage boy, even typing out Trace Gallagher's weasel words makes me want to cry and scream with anguish and fury. That could have been my son, my heart cries out. That could have been my beautiful boy ambling home from the store in the rain with his hood pulled up, clutching his treats with happy anticipation. It could have been - it might still be - the teenage son of millions of moms and dads. Look at his face, so open, still shining with the light of childhood, the face of a child not quite a man, the face of a loving son that a mother covered with kisses, a son who, like my own, was not embarrassed to hug his mom in public. A face forever lost to his loved ones, a heart forever still. Shame on you, Trace Gallagher. Shame on you, Fox News.
*Nice one, Trace. How low is the crime rate? Where? You didn't specify gun-related crime. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "Since the [Stand Your Ground] law went into effect, reports of justifiable [sic] homicides have tripled, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It has been used to absolve violence resulting from road rage, barroom arguments and even a gang gunfight." And according to this article analyzing FBI stats through 2010, while gun crime is down in the vast majority of states, it is up in New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Missouri, Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Connecticut and several of the smaller states. And there are no gun homocide stats available for Florida.