Media targets the rifle used in Orlando shooting
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And how it's marketed
The media may not be known for its hunters and big-game lovers, but journalists are offering a useful firearms primer amid the Orlando mass shooting. It's depressing cultural anthropology. Yes, the shooter was a licensed security guard who got the guns he used legally. Still, the use of a 9mm handgun and, even more so, a .223 caliber AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle is very notable. "The AR-15 is one of the most popular, and most easily obtained, guns in America. In 2013, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated there are somewhere between 5 million and 8.2 million assault weapons in circulation." (Rolling Stone)
Its "deadly legacy" was detailed in many places. (Al Jazeera) "The rifles are also relatively affordable and widely available, retailing for as low as $250 online, with an average price of about $1,000 and $2,000." (Yahoo Finance) "The gun was first built in 1959 by ArmaLite for the U.S. armed forces. ArmaLite was sold to Colt, who started selling a civilian version of the weapon in 1963." (The Oregonian) "It accounts for one-fourth of all rifles manufactured in the United States." (Newsweek) It took Philadelphia Daily News columnist Helen Ubinas seven minutes to buy one after giving the salesperson her driver's license and passing the background check. (Philly.com)
"Most forms of the gun had been prohibited under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004, following ferocious lobbying by the National Rifle Association." (New York Daily News) So the weapons are plentiful and rather shamefully marketed. Here's one for the media to look at, which was passed along by a criminal justice source. It's a video ad for an A-15 manufactured by New Hampshire-based SIG Sauer. It's very dark and ominous and the guy using the gun is bearded and wearing dark shades and a cap. As he shoots away, the short, staccato narration declares, "Shooter, make ready. The SIG MCX is here. And it's unlike anything you've seen or heard. Engineered for 300 blackout (a type of cartridge). Designed from the ground up to be silenced, light and short. a new breakthrough in modularity. The SIG MCX eclipses everything that's come before it. it's the start of a new era. And it's only from SIG." (SIG Sauer)
The video highlights features on this lighter, more compact (thus easier to conceal) version of the AR-15, including a silencer/flash suppressor and other attributes. And, ah, why exactly would one need those features? Together with the press coverage so far, the video underscores just how darn stunning it is that one can sell these weapons — which are, as law enforcement experts note, less regulated than handguns in the civilian market.
Harvard blames "unmindful" press for Trump rise
If a Harvard study of pre-primary campaign coverage is accurate, Donald Trump should buy the entire press corps cases of those purportedly wonderful wine and steaks he markets. It argues that the press was by and large "unmindful" of how he was playing it like a fiddle, with the resulting coverage far puffier in mainstream outlets than reporters and editors might assume. Its field of inspection seems narrower than it might have been but consists of content analyses of these outlets: CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. (Poynter)
Microsoft makes Google anxious (for a change)
Microsoft's giant $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn is, well, giant. (The Wall Street Journal) And "it's no blunder." (Vox) Acquiring a social dataset of 400-million users "should fray nerves at Google, and raise pressure on it to respond with an acquisition of its own, one aimed at expanding its reach with business customers." (Recode) There was less notice of how Microsoft is taking out a fat loan to pay for the deal, though it's got mountains of cash. It means Microsoft "will avoid having to pay a 35 percent tax rate to repatriate cash from overseas accounts." (Bloomberg)
Donald Trump, ISIS rally point
Joe Scarborough, born-again Trump critic, was in overdrive this morning calling Trump a liar after Trump claimed Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was "born an Afghan" during an anti-immigration screed Monday that Slate called the "scariest thing he's done yet."(Slate) The co-host is in high dudgeon even if such Scarborough passion was nowhere to be found in the many months he defended essentially the same sort of dissembling. In The Washington Post, David Ignatius' take on Donald Trump's Monday speech was that "Trump’s polarizing rhetoric on this issue may be the best thing the Islamic State has going for it," at least according to unidentified "leading U.S. and foreign counterterrorism experts." ISIS has seemingly big problems and, "The group’s narrative is collapsing – with one exception The strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts...Inflammatory, xenophobic statements about Muslims reinforce the jihadists’ claims that they are Muslim knights fighting against an intolerant West. Trump unwittingly gives them precisely the role they dream about." (The Washington Post)
Charles Barkley, the Teflon sports analyst
The NBA meted out a one-game suspension to Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green for giving LeBron James a shot in the groin area. It didn't generate much sympathy from Charles Barkley, the genial blowhard beloved by many despite his frequent rhetorical outrages and errant predictions. "When a guy steps over you, you have a moral obligation to punch him in the balls," Barkley said on SiriusXM Bleacher Report."Because that's really disrespectful to step over a guy. You're supposed to pop him in his junk if he steps over you like that." (Bleacher Report)
A social media exception that proves a media rule
In an age in which employers often crave ceaseless self-promotion by reporters, it was welcome to see The New York Times tell folks to cool it in the wake of the Orlando tragedy and "not use their social media accounts to editorialize, promote their political views or take sides on controversial issues." (Poynter)
CNN's conspicuous editorial decision
Whether it was "Fox & Friends" holding up the front page of The New York Post ("HE WAS GAY") or "Morning Joe" detailing his background, the name and image of Omar Mateen was readily apparent this morning. But not on CNN, where Chris Cuomo underscored a decision to neither show nor mention the name or image. It's debatable but clearly defensible, even if both are readily found on CNN's website. It also discussed Trump's threat to revoke The Washington Post's credentials. Clinton supporter Bakari Sellers called it fascism on "New Day," while political commentator and radio host Ben Ferguson said the paper was "incredibly biased" against Trump and he is totally within his rights to block its access. "I think this being tough and is a smart decision on his part." Maybe the Clinton campaign should do the same with Ferguson — if he ever leaves his studio to actually report. It was a revealing back-and-forth.
Then there's this decision
How will the press handle a terrorist killing in France, where the man who killed a police officer and his partner streamed it live on Facebook? (The Mirror) The 25-year-old "was killed during the police assault on the couple's home in Magnanville, hours after posting a 13-minute live video on Facebook in which he swore allegiance to ISIS. The couple's killer was apparently shown considering what to do with their son, according to French jihad expert David Thomson, who saw the video." (BBC)
Snapchat's "colossal" advertising expansion
Buried in an analysis of of some big, bold changes in a company long frowned-upon by the ad community (its hierarchy was deemed too immature to exploit its "teen-idols status" among millennials) was this: "Snapchat recently worked with Austin, Texas-based MediaScience to survey 320 consumers aged 16-56, which compared, during 552 sessions, Snapchat video ads to those on TV, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The study encompassed biometric testing to capture emotional responses, as well as eye-tracking and exit surveys. Snapchat says its ads garnered twice the visual attention of Facebook, 1.5 times more than Instagram and 1.3 times better than YouTube. When compared to those platforms and TV, Snapchat claims that its ads generated greater emotional response and twice as much purchase intent." (Adweek)
Making virtue out of newsroom necessity
The Orlando Sentinel once had more than 350 journalists. "On Sunday, as it ramped up to cover the nation's deadliest mass shooting, it had about 100," thanks to a decade of cuts by Tribune Co., which then became Tribune Publishing and soon, yes, Tronc. On Sunday it "published 30 videos and 40 stories about the shooting online, plus an eight-page print section. They were ready, Managing Editor John Cutter said, because they'd prepared to use digital tools to follow the news: They knew the importance of homepage presence during breaking news, they knew how to use Scribble Live and Facebook Live and reporters knew to take their own photos and shoot their own videos." (Poynter)
The amazing longevity of Gordie Howe
The passing of Howe, one of the most amazing athletes ever, was somewhat lost in the shuffle. But his hockey career really was extraordinary. "He played one of the world's most demanding games until he was 52 years old, and many fans argue that no one played it better. His pro career of 2,421 games ran from World War II through Vietnam, Truman to Carter, Sinatra to the Sex Pistols." (Detroit Free Press) He played professionally with his kids. Indeed, "He was among the greatest sports stars of the 20th Century, and he had reigned in the trinity of Detroit's paramount athletes, with Joe Louis and Ty Cobb."