To add on to Jonathan’s post below, I think Howard Kurtz is being needlessly myopic about this David Gregory stunt. Kurtz writes:
Was it a stunt? Yep, and an eye-catching one. Was Gregory being aggressive with the NRA chief, or seeming to push gun control in a confrontational interview? All that is up for debate.
But a police probe over what I assume was an empty ammo clip is a total waste of time.
The late word that NBC requested, and failed to receive, permission from the police certainly complicates the matter. But I don’t think Gregory was planning to commit any crimes.
What all this demonstrates above all is that journalists are getting ensnared in the political war over gun control.
There are a lot of things going on here, and Kurtz seems to be missing all of them. Culturally, one of the things lots of Americans detest about the elite journalistic culture is the idea that reporters are above the law. Usually, this self-regard manifests itself in debates over revealing sources. Many journalists honestly believe they have special rights and privileges not enjoyed by all Americans. As a matter of law and logic, that’s not the case (which is why some journalists want to see the licensing of journalists). We all have the right to commit journalism.
This priestly caste attitude manifests itself in other ways as well. Hidden cameras were something to be celebrated when 60 Minutes pioneered them. When grubby bloggers do the same thing, it’s apparently repugnant.
Well, the First Amendment is for everyone, not people with degrees from the Columbia J-School. Likewise, the Second Amendment is for everyone. And what laws limit my constitutional right to bear arms, limit David Gregory’s too.
And here we have David Gregory breaking exactly the sorts of gun laws he’s advocating (and, yes, Gregory is serving as an advocate in one side of a debate while pretending otherwise — which annoys some people too). His defense — and Kurtz’s — is that his intentions were good. Well, yes, I’m sure that’s true. It’s also true of roughly 99.99 percent of legal gun owners. But, unlike those legal gun owners, Gregory knowingly broke the law he expects the rest of us to obey (he asked the cops if it was okay and they said, “No.”).
Those legal gun owners must obey the law, even if they think the law is stupid or intended to stop people with bad motives. What rankles a little is the idea that somehow Gregory’s motives are more pure because he’s a journalist just trying to make a point. What rankles a lot is the suggestion that people keen to point out this double standard are easily dismissed as lunkhead partisans who don’t understand that David Gregory is special and deserving of special dispensation. To paraphrase Mr. Bumble: If the people insist that the gun laws be observed even by hosts of Meet the Press, well then the people must be asses.