Pity the business that gets caught in a media feeding frenzy. The latest example is gun sellers, following another school shooting.
CNN’s Veronica De La Cruz turned a negative spotlight on an online gun dealer for selling legal products that were then used in crimes.
On the Feb. 17 “American Morning,” De La Cruz showed how two Web sites, operated by “the same owner,” sold products to the shooters in both the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University tragedies. She said it was “pretty shocking to figure this out.” Anchor Kiran Chetry agreed, calling it an “eerie connection.”
But that wasn’t enough. De La Cruz was even upset at the sympathy banners on the site because they were near banners that still advertised the company’s business. “I want to show you the strange juxtaposition if you move down the page. Here's the NIU shooting and then ‘Save big on rifles and handguns’ right underneath. You know, something that kind of turns your stomach, if you will,” she added.
De La Cruz didn’t bother to explain that there were actually two banners. The first, “Tragedy at NIU,” included a statement from TGSCOM Inc. President Eric Thompson that she never mentioned. "For now, the most important thing we can all do is send our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the victims of this heinous act. I’d also suggest making a contribution to the NIU Memorial Fund,” wrote Thompson.
The second link took readers to a page that included information on the NIU Memorial Fund. But, TGSCOM is a business and there were seven other ads on the page at http://www.topglock.com/ and two at http://www.thegunsource.com/.
De La Cruz also didn’t report much about the Green Bay, Wis., company. She found it “shocking” that two Web sites run by the same company could have sold legal products to recent college killers. But according to its own site, TGSCOM “operates 100 Web sites that sell firearms, firearms’ accessories and hunting supplies.” Having two out of 100 connected doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Especially since, as De La Cruz said, the NIU shooter purchased only “two 9-millimeter magazines and a holster.”
De La Cruz also seemed stunned that guns could be purchased online and that online shopping might even be easy. “If you click on this link here, buying a gun online, it shows that absolutely it is legal to buy a gun on the internet.” You work through the process, place an order and “then sit back and relax while we do the rest,” she added, her voicing rising for dramatic effect.
De La Cruz and Chetry concluded by emphasizing the connection between the two crimes and the two purchases. “The same owner owning the same two Web sites,” said De La Cruz.
That attack is consistent with recent media coverage of gun companies. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the media went into a frenzy attacking gun companies. The coverage turned into a debate about gun control, with reporters on the three major networks blaming businesses that committed no crime. ABC’s Brian Ross was the worst offender, painting Roanoke Firearms as the villain on several different ABC programs.