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How to Play the Game

Phil Van Cleave made the very sensible decision make his own recording of his entire interview with Katie Couric. That should be a lesson to all of us who might find themselves in a position to deal with the media. If VCDL hadn’t done their own recording, Couric would have simply denied that they manipulated anything, and that would have been that. Who are you going to believe? The crazy gun nuts?

This story got legs because VCDL knew better than to trust the media. None of us should. I’ve been ignoring requests from media for years. I just won’t talk to them. Now this story has some real legs because there was proof. Hell, even NPR agrees she was out of line. The only sad part about all this is that, unlike Dan Rather or Brian Williams, Couric honestly doesn’t have much of a career left to destroy. She’s never been a journalist. She’s a propagandist.

11 Responses to “How to Play the Game”

  1. Ian Argent says:

    Don’t trust; verify.

  2. wizardpc says:

    “If VCDL hadn’t done their own recording, Couric would have simply denied that they manipulated anything, and that would have been that. Who are you going to believe? The crazy gun nuts?”

    Not criticizing VCDL at all because this was a great idea, but what if they’d pulled a James O’Keefe (or an Andrew Breitbart) and made the accusation without the audio first and then waited for the above scenario to play out? How to totally awesome would that have been?

    • Sebastian says:

      It probably would have been crickets. I think they played this exactly right. O’Keefe and Breitbart hve/had an ability to command media beyond what VCDL is capable of. I’ll reiterate: not to criticize VCDL, but there probably would have been no scenario to play out.

  3. Alien says:

    Part of me says “never, ever have anything to do with the media because they are so completely corrupted and incapable of being honest” but I recognize the need to use them to get information out.

    That said, it needs to be written in stone that any interaction with the media, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, needs to be completely recorded and thoroughly documented. If a reporter asks you “what time is it?” make sure your video camera is recording before you say “quarter past three” and that you have several people who recorded the original question on their phones.

  4. Jacob says:

    I don’t agree with this. I’ve had nothing but good, professional interactions with reporters from liberal media outlets.

  5. Andy Barniskis says:

    I have had three (at least; all I can think of right now) educational experiences involving the media.

    The first was, when I was 18 I was arrested and convicted under an illegal (in PA) local hunting ordinance and took it to court, where the ordinance was (in theory; hardly at all in practice) overturned. A local weekly newspaper talked me into posing menacingly (I now understand) with the “sniper rifle” I had allegedly used to kill a crow.

    The local daily paper reported that I had shot, not a crow, but a “cow.” When we complained to the editor, he printed a “retraction” — in which they again said I had shot a cow.

    About three decades later CNN wanted to come to my house and, after interviewing me as an “activist,” take some video of me with my guns. I refused to show any guns, and they settled for some shots of me reloading 7.62 x 39 ammo at my kitchen table. But, several minutes of interview that I had thought went quite well, and had scored some points, were dropped completely, for a three-second shot of me loading ammo, with a narrator talking over it.

    Around 1990 our club in PA sponsored an “educational” day for the media, when NJ was facing its first “assault weapon” ban. The idea was to help New Jersey gun owners, of whom we had/have many as members. Among the demonstrations were of the relative destructive power of various military calibers, compared to typical sporting calibers, and the differences between true full-auto “assault” weapons and the civilian semi-auto versions.

    Most of the footage taken by the various media was edited into pointless pablum for broadcast, that ranged from simply “non-educational” to downright deceptive and misleading. Much of it has turned up subsequently over the years edited to portray exactly the opposite from what we intended. For example, watermelons exploded by 7mm Mags, portrayed as having been shot with 9mm handguns; and controlled demonstrations of full-auto weapons portrayed as the kind of day-in, day-out shooting that goes on at gun clubs.

    Regarding Jacob’s comment immediately above, the event also included many professional interactions — with reporters. One I knew personally and had a close rapport with. So, I was surprised when his story in the newspaper reflected nothing at all that I had discussed with him, and none of the positive thoughts he had volunteered to me. When I asked him, he said “blame the editor,” and claimed that barely a fraction of what he had written made it into print, and virtually nothing positive about guns or gun owners.

    So from experience I will echo Sebastian’s sentiments; NEVER trust, and ALWAYS verify.

    • Andy Barniskis says:

      I consider this one of the better columns that I wrote, back in the day.

    • Sebastian says:

      I should probably state that my lesson about media were not learned directly, but indirectly from Bitter’s experience when she started a gun club at Mount Holyoke, which got a lot of media attention. That’s how I came to understand what worms they were, for the most part, and why I’ve steered clear.

    • Alien says:

      I’ll second Andy’s comment. My media education came about 35 years ago when a newspaper published a report about a public event at which I was a participant. I was directly involved in the event, including as a scheduled speaker, and present throughout; the news article bore no resemblance to the event. I called the reporter and asked from where did he get his information, thinking perhaps he may have written from notes provided by a “stringer.” He said he was there, and when, at my request, he described himself I remembered him as seated in the front row for the duration of the event (I spent it on the stage, with other speakers).

      When I asked him why his account was in such great variance with what actually happened at the event, his response was “I wrote what I saw.” A brief discussion about fact and fiction turned pointless quickly, concluding with a repeat of “I wrote what I saw.”

      Since then I’ve looked askance at a any news report, print or broadcast, and in those instances where I had direct knowledge of event proceedings I’ve seen very frequent misrepresentation, occasionally minor, usually moderate to major, especially if it’s an event around a topic the media traditionally does not favor.

      The media are your friend only if you’re engaged in an activity they like, and one may safely judge guns and shooting fall well outside that category. There are certainly some conservative members of the media who may represent firearm and shooting activities accurately and honestly, but they are so infrequently encountered that presuming strong negative bias among the media is the safest way to bet. Record and document everything yourself is the watchword when dealing with media, and often simply declining involvement with them is the best choice.

      • Braden Lynch says:

        I would guess that even if you found a decent reporter, the editor may have an axe to grind. I would record everything if I ever find myself in a media situation.

    • Braden Lynch says:

      I just can’t trust a “cow” killer. You are clearly a full auto maniac firing high powered “assault weapons” every weekend and murdering defenseless watermelons. );

      /end joke

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