Left-of-center media outlets began attacking the local sheriff from the Oregon county where the recent mass shooting occurred almost immediately after the tragedy. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence jumped in, and now the full weight of CNN has joined the dog-pile attack. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin was first attacked for his pro-Second Amendment views, then the Brady campaign and CNN began attacking him for a Facebook post he allegedly made nearly three years ago. Yes, that means they targeted the sheriff and did opposition research on a leader currently handling a mass shooting in his county.
First, CNN did a segment attacking the sheriff and giving attention to the pro-gun control Brady Campaign’s effort to attack the sheriff in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
That segment was followed up by CNN’s Jake Tapper. In general, Tapper has been widely heralded as fair and reasonable–and rightfully so–for his work. He was the moderator during a recent Republican presidential debate who fairly pointed out that no other country in the world has birthright citizenship before he asked a question about birthright citizenship. Nearly no other journalist working for a left-of-center outlet would have so fairly set up the question.
Unfortunately, the past couple of weeks has seen Tapper begin to venture into advocacy journalism; he made sure viewers noticed his anger and outrage at comments made by Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson as he castigated him for saying that he wouldn’t want a Muslim as president. He then engaged in the attack on Sheriff Hanlin–again making sure that viewers could determine his own perspective on the matter. It is interesting to note that Tapper’s showing emotion for left-of-center causes began immediately after his remarkably fair handling of the Republican debate–a fairness he likely took immense heat over.
The details of the Tapper segment that stood out as being the most unfair pertain to a subtle shift in assertions of fact, allowing an assertion that support of the Second Amendment was “extremist” to go unchallenged, and the fact that the sheriff is being researched and targeted in the first place to go unchallenged.
Tapper began by questioning whether the sheriff made a controversial post, but then the segment began to assert that the sheriff had made the post as though it was a fact. In my experience, most sheriff’s allow staff to run their social media–making it likely the sheriff was telling the truth when he said to CNN that he didn’t post it. In addition to this, Tapper allowed a representative from the Brady campaign to assert that the sheriff held “extremist” views for supporting the Second Amendment. Tapper did not challenge the guest on that assertion. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the segment that makes it an “attack” is in the fact that Sheriff Hanlin’s personal views and support for the Second Amendment are being discussed at all. What did these views have to do with the fact that a Christian-hating mass murderer decided to kill 9 people in Douglas County? What justified deep opposition research of a sheriff who is currently handling a recent mass shooting in his community? Readers can watch CNN’s Tapper coverage of Sheriff Hanlin below.
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