Tuesday, 17 April 2012

NBC Manipulating the Facts Again?

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Journalist Scott Cohn’s piece on Remington Arms Company's allegedly faulty trigger mechanism that aired on NBC News’ Rock Center With Brian Williams on Wednesday night, April 11, made it sound as if Remington not only has known it produces a faulty trigger but has steadfastly refused to do anything about it, for 60 years.

Opening with a heart-rending interview of Justen Yerger, who was shot when his Remington Sportsman 12 shotgun allegedly went off by itself, Cohn made clear the primary purpose of the interview: to promote government control of guns:

No government agency can order a manufacturer to recall a defective gun. In fact, Congress specifically barred the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating firearms and ammunition, in keeping with the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms. That means gun manufacturers police themselves.

Piling on the emotional appeal, an expert interviewed by NBC — Tom Butters — claimed that Remington “put profits over human lives.” And, according to NBC, Yerger isn’t the only one to suffer at the hands of one of Remington’s shotguns either. There’s also Russell Chaney, who suffered the loss of two of his fingers when his Remington shotgun discharged accidentally. In all, following a “five-month investigation” by NBC, some 125 incidents — including 75 injuries and seven deaths — have allegedly been linked to Remington’s trigger malfunctions.

However, there are serious credibility problems with the report, starting with the fact that the Yergen incident took place in 1997 — 15 years ago — while Chaney’s accident occurred in 1984. If the triggers truly are defective, why couldn't NBC find recent cases to analyze? Why aren't such incidents more frequent?

Remington learned about NBC’s report in time to develop its own response to the claims. Remington's defense consists of two videos (so far, more are expected) including one showing Butters trying to make Yerger’s weapon misfire, without success. Said Remington:

NBC continues to attack Remington and the firearms industry through sensational and factually inaccurate reporting. On April 11, 2012, Brian Williams again demonstrated NBC’s anti-gun agenda with the claim that the Model 870, Model 1100 and other Remington firearms have a design flaw. That claim is demonstrably false and Remington stands fully behind the safety and reliability of the most popular shotguns in the world.

It wasn’t enough for NBC to attack over 20 million Remington firearms; they also called the Second Amendment into question by suggesting that there is a need for increased government regulation of firearms.

Model 870 and 1100 owners know the truth — these shotguns are used extensively under the most demanding conditions. Tens of billions of rounds have been fired through these firearms, which are valued for their performance and durability by millions of hunters, shooters, law enforcement and military personnel who have relied on Remington.

As the basis for its attacks, NBC continues to rely upon paid “experts” who have been repeatedly hired by plaintiff’s attorneys to testify against Remington and at least 16 other firearms manufacturers. The facts show that the Model 870 and 1100 are two of the most reliable shotguns ever produced — only one lawsuit has been filed in the last seven years and no litigation is pending against the trigger mechanisms of these firearms.

Deceptively editing and ignoring readily available documents and video evidence to drive NBC’s agenda is an all too familiar tactic. Remington stands by the reliability and safety of its firearms and will fully respond to NBC’s attempt to disparage these iconic American products….

These agenda-driven, sensational stories should be a warning to all lawful and responsible hunters, shooters and gun owners to remain vigilant and steadfast in defense of our Second Amendment freedoms and the right of all Americans to safely hunt, shoot and protect ourselves and our families.

NBC's use of Cohn's reporting in this case demonstrates what appears to be a willful intention to deceive, because Cohn also wrote disparagingly about Remington in 2010 — about the trigger mechanism of the Remington 700 rifle — and his claims at that time were shown to be specious. In short, he claimed the Remington rifles had defective triggers, despite the fact that millions of Americans had used the guns safely and the fact that both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army had used the guns as sniper rifles and required the supposedly faulty trigger mechanisms.

NBC just can’t seem to win in the credibility department. It was just last week that the network apologized for modifying the 911 call that George Zimmerman made to make it look like Zimmerman was racially profiling Trayvon Martin, who was shot during a confrontation with Zimmerman. Said NBC: “During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.”

Notably, NBC didn’t apologize for attempting to slant the news according to its agenda. And it certainly hasn’t taken “the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future,” as evidenced by this new attack on Remington. To wit, the expert witness NBC used in Cohn’s report has his own agenda. As Cohn explained,

Tom Butters, an engineer, marksman and a trained authority on firearms, has been paid as an expert in more than 100 claims involving reported malfunctions of Remington guns. He alleges Remington has been hiding a dangerous secret about the firing mechanism, which is known as the Common Fire Control or CFC. He says guns equipped with the CFC can go off without pulling the trigger, even with the safety on. And he claims the company has known about it for years.

What Cohn didn’t say is that Butters has also been a paid expert in lawsuits against at least 16 other gun manufacturers as well.

Not surprisingly, the last time Cohn reported on Remington — for CNBC — it was also an election year.

Once again NBC has managed to damage whatever remains of its credibility. What is clear is that this hit piece on Remington is just an excuse to air, once again, its anti-gun agenda and promote government regulation of guns in violation of the Second Amendment.