Syndicated column by Oliver North, as it appeared in the January 9 Washington Times:

Frontal assault


Many years ago, as an infantry tactics instructor, I taught young Marine officers headed for combat in South East Asia that the frontal assault - a head-on attack against a defender - should generally be avoided.

The reason was simple - a frontal assault against a prepared defense is likely to inflict devastating, potentially catastrophic casualties on an attacking force. That maxim is still true about ground combat. Unfortunately, it is dead wrong when it comes to the political battlefield.

In Washington, the Clinton administration, supported by the so-called "mainstream media," is waging an unrelenting frontal assault on the Second Amendment. And this battle is going to the attacker. Nearly all the casualties in this struggle are the side of those who defend the "Right of the People to keep and bear arms."

I should have expected as much. I was even warned. On the day Charlton Heston was elected president of the National Rifle Association and I was sworn in as a member of the NRA's board of directors, I had stood next to Joe Foss, WWII Marine Air Ace, Medal of Honor winner, former governor of South Dakota, former commissioner of the American Football League, and former president of the NRA.

I hoped Mr. Heston's election would staunch the flood of criticism being heaped on the organization that taught me to shoot, decades ago - and said as much to my hero, Joe Foss. The old general stopped applauding, looked at me and said, "Don't get your hopes up, son."

Joe Foss was right. In the Marines they taught us about firepower. They should also have told us about the power of the press to reshape the battlefield to the advantage of the attacker. Many have long suspected the national media has been serving as the heavy artillery for the Clinton administration assault on civil liberties protected by the Second Amendment. Now there is proof.

On Jan. 5, the Media Research Center (MRC) released a report documenting the powerful and pervasive bias of network television news programs on the issue of firearms. The study was conducted over a two year period from July 1, 1997, to June 30, 1999, and analyzes 653 morning and evening news stories on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. The results are astounding - even to those of us who work in and understand the liberal bias of the media:

Overall, stories advocating more gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control by 357 to 36 or a ratio of almost 10 to 1. On evening news programs, 89 percent of those reports deemed biased were partial toward the liberal or anti-gun viewpoint, while only 11 percent offered anything affirmative on firearms.

On morning news programs, more than half the segments produced on the gun issue were judged biased, and of those 93 percent advocated the gun control perspective while only 6 percent suggested anything positive about firearms.

When it came to what was actually said about guns, the television media preferred anti-gun "soundbites" to pro-firearms comments by a margin of 412-209.

As a radio and television broadcaster I know that on-air guests can have a profound effect on how a particular story will be interpreted by listeners and viewers. The MRC study shows gun control advocates appeared as guests on 82 occasions, compared to just 37 guests who were invited to defend the Second Amendment.

Television reporting on the Clinton administration's failure to prosecute criminals who break existing gun laws has been virtually non-existent. But there have been scores of broadcasts on why the laws on the books are inadequate and why more gun laws are needed.

If there were positive stories on network TV about NRA-sponsored firearms training or youth safety programs I couldn't find them. But there was plenty of air-time for White House-inspired "public interest groups" to declare guns a national health menace. Using the strategy employed to vilify the tobacco industry, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, Al Gore, Janet Reno, even the surgeon general all appeared without rebuttal before the cameras to detail the risks guns pose to children.

This blitz of bias is having an extraordinary impact on public policy and legal opinion. More than two dozen U.S. cities and counties have followed the example of the tobacco litigants and brought suit against American firearms manufacturers to "recover the healthcare and law enforcement costs of handgun violence." The venerable Colt firearms company is ceasing production of commercial handguns - and laying off nearly half of its work force in Connecticut. The owners of Smith & Wesson are looking for a buyer - due largely to the threat of politically inspired lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

If those who believe in the Second Amendment intend to defend their position against this frontal assault juggernaut they had better dig in - and call for reinforcements from the American people.


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