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EDITORIAL: False reports about guns

Many media outlets have misfired about guns. Countless newspapers and television networks -- from CBS to MSNBC -- have misreported that conservative protesters are threatening President Obama with guns at public events. It hasn't happened.

In Portsmouth, N.H., a man carrying a gun, William Kostric, joined an Aug. 11 health care protest. This was blocks away and hours before Mr. Obama's town-hall meeting in that city. Mr. Kostric was given permission to be on church property where the protest occurred and was not at the place the president visited. What most of the coverage left out was that Mr. Kostric didn't carry his gun only for the protest; he legally carries a gun with him all the time for protection.

While the media regularly used terms such as "hotheads" to mischaracterize the situation, the coverage ignored that union members who opposed the protest had attacked Mr. Kostric and a friend, kicking, pushing and spitting on them. Despite violence against him by Mr. Obama's supporters, Mr. Kostric did not draw his gun or threaten anyone.

On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked, "Are we really still debating health care when a man brings a handgun to a church where the president is speaking?" Deliberately or not, she got the facts wrong. As we know, Mr. Kostric did bring a gun to the church, but the president was not there and never was scheduled to speak there. Mr. Obama spoke at a separate event at a local high school at a different time. Not letting facts get in the way of her hysterical story line, Ms. Couric linked Mr. Kostric's gun to "fear and frankly ignorance drown[ing] out the serious debate that needs to take place about an issue that affects the lives of millions of people."

In another case in Arizona, a black man staged an event with a local radio host and carried a semiautomatic rifle a few blocks away from another Obama town-hall meeting. According to the radio station, the staged event was "partially motivated to do so because of the controversy surrounding William Kostric." This occurrence was not an example of an outraged gun-toting Obama protester, but a stunt to garner attention for a shock jock. Of course, this inconvenient truth was ignored by most news outlets.

MSNBC misrepresented the facts to try to back up a bogus claim about racism being behind opposition to Mr. Obama's agenda. On Donny Deutsch's Aug. 18 show about the Arizona town-hall meeting, the producers aired a clip of the anonymous black man carrying the so-called assault rifle -- but the network edited the tape so the man's race was obscured. Truth be damned, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer said, "There are questions whether this has a racial overtone. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists." Another commentator on the same show worried about the "anger about a black person being president." The supposed result: "You know we see these hate groups rising up."

MSNBC's irresponsible behavior is more than just bad journalism; it sows distrust between races. Ernest Hancock, the radio host who staged the event, was hoping to get some free publicity for himself and his show. Whatever one thinks of this PR stunt, it had nothing to do with race. MSNBC misrepresented a black man carrying a gun as a white man to invent a racial dynamic that didn't exist.

Media disinformation about guns is a sad sign of the drastic action liberals will take to undermine support for gun rights for law-abiding citizens. It's also an indication of liberals' extreme desperation as Mr. Obama's agenda unravels.

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