I picked a paper up out of my driveway yesterday, and discovered a front page story about a local NRA group running a toy drive. I paused to gasp.
What next ? Will there be a press release about local Nazis having a bake sale? Maybe a call for volunteers to help with a Klan Kreek Klean-Up? SERIOUSLY? An NRA Toy Drive? Saturday Night Live could get a five minute sketch out of this one.
This isn’t about promoting the activities of some civil organization doing good deeds. This is a whitewash, pretending that the NRA cares about children. According to the California Health Report, in the U.S., 7,000 children younger than 18 are wounded or killed by gunshots annually.
Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 17.
If you have students at CCUSD, they have been through ‘live shooter’ lock down drills. They have dealt with the stress of having a potential shooter. This has happened more than once.
Toy drive? The NRA steps up to support Toys for Tots? It couldn’t be more ironic.
So, is this about shaming the NRA or shaming the CC News? Both.
When I was the editor of the Culver City News, many, many years ago, the publisher, my boss, was Leslie Belfor. Part of her credo was the other local newspapers simply did not exist. We were never to refer to them for any reason. Maintaining the idea that the CC News was the paper, the only paper that mattered at all. To even admit to the existence of other newspapers was treasonous.
Privately, she obsessed over the other paper. She waited with mounting anxiety for it to hit the streets every week, snuck a copy into the office, and tore through it page by page, laughing with glee over misspelled words, poor grammar, and shoddy reporting. She would call the phone numbers on classified ads to determine how many of them were fake. She counted each business ad to make sure we had more, and ours looked better.
From my desk, it seemed pretty weird. My point of view was that you could say that we were in competition with the other paper and be real about it, or genuinely let it go. But this was the highlight of her week.
I don’t obsess about other media; I’m pretty happy minding my own business. I won’t say I never look at it, but most weeks it goes straight from the driveway to the recycle bin.
In the decade I’ve spent publishing and editing CulverCityCrossroads, I occasionally critique other papers in town, and other sites, for the same reason I call out our elected officials for bad behavior on the dais. It is the job of journalism to do just that. When laws are broken, when ethics are collapsed, when standards are sunk, it needs to be brought to the public’s attention. Sometime it’s another media outlet, and not an elected official.
With the most recent mass shooting only as far away as Thousand Oaks, with the federal conviction of Marina Butina after her guilty plea, with the mounting evidence in the Russia investigation that the NRA may have been a venue for illegal funds – A Toy Drive?
And, even more sadly true to form for the current standards at the CC News, this was run the week after Christmas. Even if you had wanted to contribute to the toy drive, it was too late.
Maybe they were hoping to get more puppets; perhaps the Republicans in Congress are wearing out.
A little more irony? CC Crossroads ran a story yesterday about a gun buyback being supported by the CCPD, and organized by a Girl Scout doing her Gold Award. It’s kind of amazing that the Culver City News, the outlet that many people, including all the official business of the City of Culver City, consider the only paper in town, is promoting the NRA on a day when CC Crossroads is promoting the CCPD, the Girl Scouts, and a gun buyback. Which is scheduled for January, and you have plenty of time to participate.
So, in the matter of civil discourse, it’s crucial to call this stuff out. It’s absolutely not ok for a local newspaper – whose local students are participating in drills to deal with mass murder that can happen anywhere – to run a benign little holiday promo of this group and pretend they are just being generous citizens.