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ABC Meows Instead of Roars at Clintons

Will Giuliani or Lazio Get a Matching 45 Minutes of Air Time to Sell Their Empathy With the Children?

ABC signaled the kind of week it would display on Good Morning America last week by replacing ill co-host Charles Gibson on Tuesday with George Stephanopoulos. (One can only imagine the liberal spit takes if ABC's conservative pundits George Will or William Kristol filled in as the "objective" co-host.)

But the highlight of the week was the Friday morning show, which featured 45 minutes of air time for Bill and Hillary Clinton's live town meeting with teens on the topic of school shootings - without commercial interruption. If Hillary Clinton runs for Senate, would ABC be willing to allow Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Rep. Rick Lazio a matching 45 minutes to demonstrate their empathy with the children?

On Thursday morning, Gibson promoted it: "We'll be interviewing the President, and then Mrs. Clinton is going to join us, along with the real experts on teen violence. We're going to bring in a number of students across the country and we're going to talk with them and with the President and Mrs. Clinton about what's on everyone's mind since the school shootings in Littleton, Conyers, Jonesboro, and unfortunately, so many other cities." Diane Sawyer added: "I assume that the teens are going to be a kind of reality check, asking some tough questions of the President and the First Lady about violent video games, movies, parents, the challenges of growing up today."

Notice Sawyer left out that teens would ask tough questions on gun control. While one teen defended video games, none opposed gun control. Many of the teens were students at the schools where shootings had occurred, and the group was very supportive of crackdowns, including metal detectors. One student advocated raising the price of all guns to a level where kids can't afford them. The only balance on guns came when Sawyer asked one question about lax enforcement of current gun laws.

gibson0604a.jpg (15011 bytes) In the interview with the President, Gibson hit Clinton from the left (see box). He preached: "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."

When Clinton responded with long, feisty answers, protesting that some Democrats supporting the Brady Bill "which the polls showed the voters support," got beat anyway, Gibson fussed: "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?"

Gibson promoted mandatory safety devices on Thursday morning: "I think it's fair to say that every consumer product on the market, we expect it to undergo vigorous safety tests for our protection and the protection of our children. This is after all, the age of the childproof safety device on almost every product. So in the wake of repeated incidents of youth gun violence, a lot of people are asking shouldn't the same apply to guns?" Michael Guillen filed a report on kids killed in gun accidents and how their parents are now campaigning for mandatory safety devices.

ABCNews.com is currently matching Good Morning America's gun focus, with a notable difference. Opponents of gun control, including experts like academic John Lott, were awarded an opportunity to respond. - Tim Graham