Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Media misfire

Scarcely three hours after Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech, Brian Ross and Dana Hughes of ABC News posted a story on their “Blotter” blog (blogs.abcnews.com/ theblotter) implying that the expiration of a 1994 gun law was to blame.

“High-capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons,” began the ABC story, which cited the “expert” opinion of Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: “When you have a weapon that can shoot off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you’re going to have a lot more injuries.”

At the time of that report, there was no information about the weapons Cho Seung-hui used to kill his victims before committing suicide. Since then, law enforcement officials have said the mass murderer used two pistols (reportedly a 9 mm Glock and a .22-caliber Walther), but there was nothing to suggest that large-capacity magazines were involved in the crime.

“Does ABC News have an obligation to report facts, or is peddling a political agenda buttressed by lies their preferred stock in trade?” Bob Owens wrote yesterday at the Media Research Center’s blog, NewsBusters.org.

“The Ross entry states that high-capacity magazines ‘became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons.’ This is a patently false statement, containing no truth at all.

“High-capacity magazines have been around for more than half a century, and the sale of high-capacity magazines was not impacted whatsoever by the 1994 Crime Bill. These magazines were freely and commercially available, both in retail stores and online, without interruption, for the 10-year life of the ban, the decades preceding it, and afterward.”

“Armed America” author Clayton E. Cramer sent an e-mail Monday night to Robert Stacy McCain of The Washington Times, pointing out another problem with the ABC News item.

“The only time that an extended magazine is going to make a difference is if someone is shooting back at you,” said Mr. Cramer, a firearms historian.

Hefner backs Hillary

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, is seeking to become the first female president, and a man who has published countless pictures of naked women is pitching in for her White House bid, the Hill newspaper reports.

Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy Enterprises empire, is among the many celebrities who have picked their favorite candidate to succeed President Bush in 2009.

Mr. Hefner contributed $2,300 (the maximum allowed in the primary) to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign on March 28, identifying his occupation on the fundraiser form as “editor-in-chief” of Playboy magazine.

Mr. Hefner has given thousands to Democrats over the years, including $2,000 to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and $1,000 each to Al Gore and then-President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Mr. Hefner’s favorite on Capitol Hill is Rep. Loretta Sanchez, California Democrat. He has given her $13,200 since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Obama’s victory

Bill Clinton defined the March 31 financial filings as the ‘first primary’ as he exhorted donors to do their utmost to lift his wife to the winners’ circle. Now the results are in — and Sen. Barack Obama is the victor by a wide margin,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in the New York Post.

“The breadth and scope of Obama’s win weren’t apparent until when we got to see the fine print of the detailed first-quarter financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission,” the writers said.

“On the surface, his fundraising success seemed roughly similar to Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s — by itself a big victory for the rookie from Illinois. She reports $22.5 million on hand (minus debt) that she can spend during the primary, while he has $19 million.

“But $10 million of Clinton’s total comes from funds transferred to her presidential campaign from her Senate campaign committee (i.e., funds raised last year). So when it comes to net primary cash-on-hand raised this quarter, Obama has a substantial edge — $19 million vs. $12.5 million.

“Hillary padded her fundraising total with almost $7 million that she can only spend in the general election. This might as well be Confederate currency for all the good it can do her during the primaries.”

Then and now

“As he runs for president, John Edwards has cast himself as a candidate who puts candor ahead of politics by saying he was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution,” Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh writes.

“But candor wasn’t what he counseled as John Kerry‘s vice-presidential nominee, when he argued strongly against admitting error on Iraq, according to veterans of the 2004 campaign.

“In waging his current crusade, Edwards has apologized repeatedly for his Iraq vote, not-so-subtly contrasting himself with Hillary Clinton, who has said she wouldn’t vote the same way again, but who has also refused to express regret for supporting the resolution.”

On a Feb. 4 appearance on “Meet the Press,” for example, “Edwards said he was very critical of himself for that vote, adding: ‘Anybody who wants to be president of the United States has got be honest and open, be willing to admit when they’ve done things wrong.’ Clinton’s refusal to repudiate her vote is ‘between her and her conscience,’ he said at a Feb. 21 forum.

“That confessional stance has won Edwards considerable credit with Democrats,” Mr. Lehigh said.

“Yet as John Kerry’s 2004 ticketmate, the former North Carolina senator was anything but eager to acknowledge error on Iraq. Instead, according to several Kerry-Edwards campaign aides, Edwards argued repeatedly that the two should stand by their votes, even after it had become apparent that Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction nor collaborative ties with al Qaeda.”

$400 haircuts

Looking pretty is costing John Edwards‘ presidential campaign a lot of pennies, the Associated Press reports.

The Democrat’s campaign committee picked up the tab for two haircuts at $400 each by celebrity stylist Joseph Torrenueva of Beverly Hills, Calif., according to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

FEC records show Mr. Edwards also availed himself of $250 in services from a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H., which is described on its Web site as “a unique boutique for the mind, body and face” that caters mostly to women.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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