CyberAlert -- 06/04/1999 -- ABC's Charlie Gibson pressed President Bill Clinton

CyberAlert Extra
ABC's Charlie Gibson pressed President Bill Clinton from the left on gun control this morning.

gibson0604.jpg (14998 bytes) ABC's Good Morning America broadcast live from the White House this morning, presenting a two hour special titled "Kids & Guns: Is There a Solution?" The show dropped many ad breaks to allow more time with the Clintons. For 45 uninterrupted minutes from about 7:30am to 8:15am ET Bill and Hillary Clinton, with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer hosting, talked in the Roosevelt Room with a group of high school students.

Earlier, for most of the 7am half hour, Gibson interviewed Clinton in the Cabinet Room and approached the gun issue from the left, demanding to know why Clinton has not done more to regulate guns. Gibson's questions clearly angered Clinton who became indignant that anyone would question his commitment. Gibson relayed how a friend was disappointed about how "the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed," how despite public support for more gun laws "we're not fighting about regulation of guns" and if we don't fight for that, Gibson lamented, "hasn't the NRA basically framed the debate at that point?"

Now to the details of this portion of the interview, which MRC Webmaster Sean Henry is posting on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format. To view it, just go to:
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After Clinton defended the effectiveness of the additional gun rules passed by the Senate, Gibson argued as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"But when you went to Littleton, a friend of yours, who supports you on gun control, said to me in the last 48 hours, the President, because as he said Littleton has seared the national conscience, the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed, and that was a friend of yours. There are very basic measures that could be taken that people agree on. We register every automobile in America. We don't register guns. That's a step that would make a difference."

A seething Clinton told Gibson to "join the real world here" as the votes are not in Congress for tougher rules given the Senate only passed the new gun show bill by the vote of the Vice President. Clinton boasted about how he's "the first President who ever took on the NRA" and when he got Congress to pass the Brady Bill in 1994 "we lost between 12 and 20 members of the House of Representatives because they were targeted by the NRA for standing up for the lives of our children."

An indignant Clinton complained: "Whoever you talk about that you don't want to out here, to ignore the fact that my administration and my party took on this issue when no one else would, and paid a huge price for it and lost control of the House of Representatives in all probability because of it, and to pretend that this is an easy thing now because of Littleton is wrong."

Gibson pushed again from the left: "But let me come back to you on that, the polls, I agree on that, the polls have shown that this country would accept registration of firearms and yet we don't do that and we're not fighting about regulation of guns. We regulate every other consumer product out there."
Clinton replied: "The reason is this Congress came to power after the 1994 elections because in critical races the people who voted for more modest things like the Brady Bill, which the polls showed the voters support, got beat."
Gibson bemoaned: "But hasn't the NRA won the debate at that point? Once we say it's politically impossible, we can't do it, we won't propose it, hasn't the NRA basically framed the debate at that point?"

Of course, an impartial journalist wouldn't care which side won the debate and if he did have a viewpoint, which there's nothing wrong with having, a professional journalist would keep his personal views to himself. -- Brent Baker


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