JOHN KASS: CNN’s many minutes of Second Amendment hate
CNN’s town hall political takedown of the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment — in response to the tragic killings at a Florida school — has been wrongly described by some conservatives as an Orwellian Two Minutes Hate.
It went on for much longer than two minutes. And it became clear that this wasn’t a reasonable discussion about complicated policy and the Bill of Rights.
This was all about confrontation, drama and exhorting a crowd that wants politicians to “do something” about guns. And so, the CNN many minutes of Second Amendment hate was nothing more than a campaign rally for the Democratic Party.
A student likened Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, to mass murder suspect Nikolas Cruz for accepting campaign donations from the National Rifle Association. The crowd jeered at Rubio. And they loved it.
And another star of the show was Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, in full uniform.
Israel is a politician, a Democrat who runs for election, and he received a roar from the crowd when he lashed out at NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
What bothered him was the NRA bringing up the aggravating fact that there had been repeated and well-documented failures of law enforcement — from the FBI to the locals — that could have stopped Cruz.
“You just told this group of people that you’re standing up for them,” he said. “You are not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.'”
The crowd cheered.
“You will get this done,” Sheriff Israel told them. “Vote in people who feel the same way you do.”
They cheered some more.
What the public didn’t know at the time of Israel’s speechifying was that on the day of the shooting, a Broward deputy sheriff was stationed at the school.
When the shooting began, Israel’s armed deputy hid outside in safety and remained there.
But if the good sheriff — a political cat — had explained that business about his frightened deputy, he’d have ruined the show. So he kept his mouth shut.
The CNN event was compelling TV. But raw emotion is always compelling on the screen.
What TV can’t handle is context, or complicated, layered arguments. TV isn’t about restraint. It’s all about the immediate.
A day after the CNN event, an amazing thing happened.
The news broke about how that armed deputy stationed at the school had failed to act, and later news sources suggested three other deputies at the school did not enter during the shooting. Sheriff Israel had to say something.
“I’m devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words,” he said of the deputy who avoided danger that day.
No words, sir? No words?
Of course not. Yet you had plenty of words at that CNN event, where you played the demagogue in front of a crowd of grieving Americans.
The framers of the Constitution were worried about people just like you. It’s why the Bill of Rights is there.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.