The Jury Talks Back


My Exchange with Jake Tapper Regarding the Shooting Survivors Whose Voices Weren’t Heard Last Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I’m going to put my cards on the table: First, I like and respect Jake Tapper. He’s one of very few people on CNN who bends over backwards to be fair, most of the time — and he’s willing to interact on Twitter with people who are polite to him. Second, I was not able to watch his town hall on the Florida school shooting last night. Like Allahpundit at Hot Air, however, I was dubious about the notion of this town hall, given the title they chose for it:

The actual network-approved title of tonight’s event is “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” This is an advocacy event, not a “news program,” and they’re making no bones about it.

Not having seen the program, I can’t claim to opine on its fairness. Any judgments I make without having watched it would be unreliable second-hand judgments based on clips I have seen and the general reaction of the commentariat. But Allahpundit made a point in his post last night about who was invited, and who wasn’t, and I think it’s a fair issue to raise: “It’s a showcase for very sympathetic victims on one side but not, a la Steve Scalise, on the other.”

So I decided to ask Jake Tapper on Twitter about two shooting victims who don’t toe the gun control line, and why they weren’t on the program. Here is our public exchange. I asked:

Tapper replied:

I asked another question:

I did not get a public response to that question. (I don’t mean to make Tapper sound unresponsive. He talked with me about it a little bit in direct messages, but I’m not going to repeat the contents of private conversations.)

In case you haven’t heard of him, Brandon Minoff is a survivor of the school shooting who has publicly expressed disdain for what he perceives as the media using the shooting to promote gun control:

A survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who was previously interviewed by CNN and MSNBC following the mass shooting, told Fox News he believes certain media outlets are politicizing the tragedy to push gun control.

Brandon Minoff, an 18-year-old senior, said the media chose to target gun control advocates instead of focusing on the 17 lives lost in Wednesday’s slaughter.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the media is politicizing this tragedy,” Minoff said. “It seems that gun control laws is the major topic of conversation rather than focusing on the bigger issue of 17 innocent lives being taken at the hands of another human.”

Now, I’m not aware that Minoff tried to submit a question. Nor am I accusing Tapper of bias in the selection of students, since I have no reason to believe he was the person selecting who spoke. Again — and I’ll take flak from Trump lovers for this, but that’s fine — I like and respect Tapper, and see him as a newsman who tries to be fair. I’m not saying he wasn’t trying to be fair last night.

Here’s what I am saying: Minoff had a valuable perspective to offer CNN’s town hall. He would have been a good person to seek out. If CNN didn’t want to invite on Scalise because a) he’s not a survivor of this shooting and b) he doesn’t represent these Florida students, I think those are fair points. But a student who suffered through this shooting but nevertheless rejects the pro-gun control arguments is a voice that should have been heard. I knew about Minoff yesterday morning, and mentioned him in this post. I wish CNN had known about him too, and had sought him out to offer his point of view.

Please note: I’m not complaining about Dana Loesch being invited on to represent the NRA position. Dana is their spokesperson, and she’s very articulate, and clips like this show that she can hold her own. But the impression I am getting from critics — which, again, I can’t confirm because I didn’t watch the program — is that the town hall was short on skeptics of gun control among students who survived the shooting. And yet, they exist — and shooting survivors carry that “moral authority” that spokespeople like Loesch or politicians like Rubio (but not Scalise!) lack.

I’m going to take CNN at their word that they didn’t censor student Colton Haab or try to script his answer. This is not an accusation that CNN is trying to squash a particular position, so much as a lament that the perspective of Brandon Minoff was not heard.

That said, I thank Jake Tapper for his answers.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. I see no reason to take CNN at their word that they did not reject the student’s question and supply a scripted question. No reason at all.

    Comment by SPQR — 2/22/2018 @ 5:30 pm

  2. Do you now?

    Comment by Patterico — 2/27/2018 @ 7:38 pm

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