The mainstream media is, if not predictable on Second Amendment issues, at least prone falling into patterns. The usual ones are:
- Broad-based ignorance of – and at worst, incuriosity about – the actual facts of gun related issues, beyond the chanting points provided by the anti-gun groups that dominate the “thinking” in most reporters’ social circles. It’s not malicious, it’s just uninformed, or lazy, or sometimes entitled.
- Occasional bursts of good solid reporting – like Pat Kessler’s excellent piece on Channel 4 last week pointing out what this blog has been telling you for a couple years now; while Minnesota has a very high per capita rate of carry permittees (almost triple the rate estimated when the Legislature passed the law), our crime rate is among the lowest in the country.
- Inevitably, the overwrought editorial or op-ed demanding a repeal of the Second Amendment.
That latter usually comes from the “elite” level of the media – the NYTimes, the WaPo and the like.
So it was with a chuckle I read about an episode from the Civil War, when “journalists” had to be made of sterner, more realistic stuff.
It was right after the draft – and its onerous exemption provisions, allowing the wealthy to pay for substitutes – was instituted. Mobs began rioting – and one of their targets was the New York Times.
At the time, the Times was a Republican paper, and supported Lincoln, abolition and the war. The rest of New York City, then as now, was Democrat – and was also fairly squarely against abolition, since much of New York’s economy was based around cigars and textiles – which depended on cheap tobacco and cotton, which depended on slavery (which is why I relish the times when smug little liberal moppets try to rip on “slave states’, knowing that NYC prospered more from slavery than anyplace else).
But I digress.
The rioters descended on midtown Manhattan. And there, the publishers of the NYTimes were waiting:
The riot quickly spread through adjoining parts of the city, with rioters attacking leaders of the Republican Party and their property, as well as “such symbols of privilege and power as police stations, arsenals, and the homes and shops of the wealthy,” Gilje wrote. The offices of abolitionist New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley were attacked twice. The New York Times was defended by its staff, who wielded several Gatling guns borrowed from the Army. Manning one of the Gatling guns was millionaire speculator Leonard Walter Jerome, Winston Churchill’s maternal grandfather and a major investor in the paper.
The paper’s publisher issued rifles to the staff – there was apparently a cache of firearms in the Times offices – and an armed skirmish line of reporters, printers and other staffers were all that stood in the way of the mob burning and looting the Gray Lady…
…and, in the end, deterred that attack.
So – the news media used the Second Amendment to protect the First Amendment.