The Transom, Ben Domenech, October 9, 2017

Congressman Steve Scalise went in to an interview with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd the other day likely expecting to be asked questions about his opinion on gun rights. This is normal, even given his physical condition after being shot on the “how soon we forget” baseball diamond a few months ago. What he could not have expected is how irresponsibly Todd would treat this interview – in particular, that the host of the preeminent Sunday morning political talk show would engage in an editorial assault, editing Scalise’s steady and straightforward answers on gun policy in order to make the interview look less like the total victory Scalise achieved. This wasn’t an interview: It was an argument, and it reveals how little Todd knows about gun rights.

Mollie Hemingway.   “The “Meet the Press” host decided to spend the entire aired portion of his interview with the House majority whip pushing gun control. For eight minutes, Todd focused on what he sees as Scalise’s political shortcomings, and badgered him to adopt the views of his political opponents. Scalise, for his part, spent the entirety of the interview making Todd look like the uninformed and naive partisan activist he is.

“Meet the Press” is a political show, and Scalise is a leader in Congress. After someone is shot for his political views, there should be more than enough to discuss. Maybe Todd could have established Scalise was okay, and discuss what he’d been through. For many people, who have been hungry for media coverage of the shooting, it would be nice to establish in a news forum what’s going on with Scalise in his life. Ideally there should be some sort of humanity and rebuilding of trust in terms of how hostile liberal journalists deal with their political opponents, such as Scalise. If Todd wanted to address his own push to restrict gun rights, maybe limit it to 5 or 10 percent of the interview.

“Instead, the undercurrent of Todd’s badgering questions was to tell the shooting victim he did it to himself. He began with the premise that Scalia was wrong on gun control. You can watch the interview here:

“The full interview, with the exception of one vague opening question about returning to a sense of “normalcy” after “everything you’ve been through this summer,” was about gun control. If you read the full interview transcript, or watch the unedited interview, it was actually a nicer conversation. It focused more on Scalise’s return to Congress, including how both Democrats and Republicans reached out to support him. It dealt with an actual issue that many people would like discussed on national news programs: tax reform. It was still overly focused on gun control, but nothing like the finished product, where all of the interesting viewpoints were excised in favor of Todd’s pet issue.

“But even then, when only the gun control portions were included, the editing is most curious. For instance, one of the points Scalise kept making was that enforcing existing gun laws is key to their effectiveness. When he said that federal enforcement of gun laws under the Obama administration dropped 25 percent, that was not included in the final interview…

“In most of his responses, Scalise did a great job explaining the Declaration of Independence and the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. He explained to Todd that a government that monitors the people down to their gun purchases is tyrannical and totalitarian. He patiently explained that the right to keep and bear arms does not extend to shooting innocent people, and managed not to roll his eyes or walk out when Todd asked that question. And he kept making his point about the need to enforce existing gun laws rather than pass more gun laws.

“Todd would be doing his employers proud if he were officially employed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. But he’s supposed to be a neutral moderator of the longest-running Sunday political program.

“Instead, he has a long track record of advocating strenuously for limits on the Second Amendment. He frequently gives Republicans “advice” encouraging them to step away from defending the inalienable right to defense of life and liberty. When victims of gun violence argue in favor of gun control, he presents them as moral arbiters. When victims of gun violence argue against gun control, he badgers them for their political views.

“Earlier this week, in the words of Huffington Post, “It Took Just 1 Minute For Chuck Todd To Shut Down Gun Control Critics.” Again, that’s great if it’s your job to oppose the Second Amendment as a partisan extremist. It’s not so great, when you’re supposed to be interviewing both Democrats and Republicans down the middle.”