Outgunned: How the Network News Media Are Spinning the Gun Control Debate

2. Morning Show Findings

The network morning shows were flooded with visually arresting images from shootings. Out of 353 gun policy segments, anti-gun stories outnumbered pro-gun stories by 193 to 15, or a ratio of more than 13 to 1 (145 were neutral or balanced). Analysts counted both morning news reports and interviews.

     • ABC’s Good Morning America ran a total of 92 reports supporting gun control compared to just one that favored the gun-rights defense (51 were neutral).

     • CBS’s This Morning offered 19 stories slanted towards gun control solutions to just four against (with 27 neutral offerings).

     • NBC’s Today presented the greatest amount of segments leaning toward gun rights, ten, or two-thirds of the morning show total, but also pushed for gun control in 82 segments (along with 88 neutral reports).

Guests. Morning shows were almost twice as likely to feature a gun control advocate than one opposed to more gun control. Gun control supporters appeared on the live morning shows 82 times, compared to just 37 gun rights spokesmen. Another 58 held no pro- or anti-gun views in gun policy segments.

     • On Good Morning America, 33 guests professed a belief in more legislation limiting gun rights, while only eight opposed such measures, with 212 neutral guests.

     • NBC’s Today booked three times more gun-rights guests than ABC with 24, but still invited far more gun control advocates (40), with 24 neutral spokesmen.

     • CBS’s This Morning aired the least interviews, but was the most balanced with just nine guests for gun control, five against, and 13 neutral.

The school-shooting phenomenon created both a desirable political and commercial environment for network producers, whose programs advanced gun control at the same time that these dramatic events drew higher-than-average ratings.