Journalists on social media pushed back on Friday against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch's claim that the news media "loves" mass shootings because they deliver ratings boosts.
This rhetoric is dangerous, and continues the assault on journalists in an effort to paint them as subhuman. Of the thousands of people I know, including hundreds of journalists, I know zero (ZERO) people subhuman enough to "love mass shootings" https://t.co/wBo8y5DPYz— Ryan Famuliner (@RyanFamuliner) February 23, 2018
"Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it," Loesch said Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), addressing reporters in the back of the room. "Now I'm not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media."
Loesch's comments echoed those made in a video released this week by the NRA, in which gun rights activist Colion Noir argued, "If there's one organization in this country that has a vested interest in the perpetuation of mass tragedy, it's the mainstream media."
The former Blaze host doubled-down on her comments in a Friday morning interview on CNN with Alisyn Camerota, who told her, "You're wrong on every single level," and argued against her claim that shootings provide a ratings boost for news programs.
"Americans have reached saturation level," said Camerota. "They're so sick of it and it's so heartbreaking that they actually often turn away."
Alisyn Camerota to NRA spokeswoman: “You think we love mass shootings? … It’s just malicious, actually, that you would say that. I don’t know anybody in the media who likes mass shootings… We pray that there’s never another one.” https://t.co/qzE1DxoncO https://t.co/a0QY03VTYU— CNN (@CNN) February 23, 2018
Many in the news media have pushed to refine how news stations cover mass shootings, urging journalists to focus less on the perpetrators of attacks. Much of the ongoing coverage of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week has focused on efforts by survivors to achieve gun control legislation in order to prevent more shootings—a push that is strongly opposed by the NRA.
On social media, many reporters reminded Loesch and her supporters that journalists are members of their communities whose families are put at as much risk as any other American household by the prevalence of military-style semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15.
This an unequivocally horrifying thing to say. Journalists are humans, not story-pursuing robots salivating for the death of young kids. We don’t “love mass shootings.” Many of us have kids of our own. I’m floored by this. https://t.co/HmDU6G4NhG— Sam Stein (@samstein) February 22, 2018
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This is a disgusting insult to journalists everywhere. NOBODY loves mass shootings. We cry and grieve and fear for our kids just like anyone else. And guess what? Our families are victims of tragedies, too. Do people believe this garbage??? https://t.co/DHNKA5gLRm— Melissa Luck (@MelissaKXLY4) February 22, 2018
Others pointed to the emotional toll covering repeated mass killings—typically with little to no action by legislators in the wake of such attacks, to curb shootings—can take on journalists.
The idea that mainstream media loves mass shootings is idiotic & insulting. I covered the VA Tech shootings & was totally unprepared emotionally. Spent nights in hotel room crying after interviewing family & friends of victims. Still affects me. https://t.co/jRwqg6jaFu— Kevin Manahan (@KevinCManahan) February 23, 2018
Dana Loesch's comments are so disingenuous and gross. If you really believe journalists enjoy covering mass shootings, especially those involving innocent children and teens, you should hang out at any newsroom and try to do our job for just a day.https://t.co/cCx4OPxXeF— Andrea González-Ramírez (@andreagonram) February 22, 2018
As Catherine Woodiwiss wrote at Sojourners last July, reporters' prolonged exposure to violent and traumatic events including shootings can correspond with high levels of distress:
In 2014, a study of "frequent and prolonged exposure to deeply disturbing images" published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that the frequency with which a journalist watches violent content correlates with the journalist’s likelihood of having anxiety, depression, PTSD, or alcoholism.
The Radio Television Digital News Association also released a statement about the NRA's new talking point.
"We are your neighbors. Your friends. We attend the same houses of worship. We go the same classes at the gym. Our children are in the same classes at school...We are deeply affected by tragedy. We are journalists and we do what we do because you have a need to know and understand the world around you."