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Trump dupes the press about passing gun laws—again

Folding like a cheap suit, Donald Trump once again signaled that he's going to stand in the way of any kind of gun reform legislation in the wake of two more massacres that left 31 people dead and dozens more injured. Trump lying about gun laws and brazenly walking back his public pledges for action was completely predictable. You can set your clocks to this stuff.

And yes, the press was willingly duped again. In the immediate wake of the massacres, lots of news outlets rushed to report that Trump supported the passage of background check legislation and that this time, Republicans might really act! Then when Trump inevitably walked it all back—after checking in with the NRA—the press concocted hollow reasons for his lying ways.

The New York Times actually suggested Trump opted to side with his “populist white and working-class political base,” and do nothing on passing any gun laws. What the Times conveniently omitted was the fact that Trump's base supports passing new gun laws. We know that because polling confirms over and over that basically everyone in America is in favor of passing new gun laws. It's truly astonishing how reporters ignore this key fact in order to portray Trump as being super-savvy and doubling down with his supporters.

And that raises the question: Are reporters and editors being duped, or are they willingly playing roles in this national charade, which revolves around the specific topic of guns? But the larger issue remains the media's senseless normalization of Trump. Indeed, this is one of the inevitable results when newsrooms won't identify Trump as the compulsive liar that he is: Journalists then have to scramble to concoct reasons for why his policies change. Trump has been lying about his support for gun legislation for years. But because the press won't state the obvious truth, he gets to do it over and over and journalists play along, pretending that maybe this time things will work out differently.

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The fact that Trump's hate rhetoric inspires mass shootings, and then he compounds the crisis by refusing to curb the militarization of white nationalist groups, only exacerbates the media’s failings. Meaning: This is a truly deadly issue that deserves clear, accurate reporting. But spending days after a mass shooting pretending that Trump's seriously considering doing anything about America's gun epidemic does not constitute clear, accurate reporting. It only makes things worse because it disguises the fact that a radical minority represented by the NRA and the GOP leadership helps perpetuate this country's gun violence crisis.

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