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Did CNN Yield to Gun Lobbyists When It Cut Its Reported Number of School Shootings from 74 to 15?

Like many news outlets, after the most recent school shooting at an Oregon High School, CNN reported that there had been 74 school shooting since the mass deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The numbers used had been compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit dedicated to stopping gun violence across the United States. Yet, on the very next day, CNN had issued it own revised figures, cutting the number of school shootings from 74 to 15.

“CNN determined that 15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the violence in Newtown or Oregon — a minor or adult actively shooting inside or near a school. That works out to about one such shooting every five weeks, a startling figure in its own right,” the revised report read.

The remainder of the shootings that did not make the cut in CNN’s tally included personal arguments, accidents, gang activities and drug deals.

Media watchdog group Media Matters, though, is crying foul on CNN’s abrupt about face, saying what the revision in the gun violence statistics had more to do with bowing to conservative gun lobbyists than honest reporting of fact.

“Criticism of Everytown’s graphic began on June 10 with a lengthy series of tweets from conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson that purported to debunk many of the 74 shootings as ‘fake shooting[s],’” wrote Media Matters’ Timothy Johnson. “Conservative media quickly adopted Johnson’s argument that certain shooting that occur at school should not count.”

As a result, as Media Matters demands, CNN followed suit, lowering their own statistics.

Journalist Alan Burkeman stressed that shifting these numbers based on ‘semantics’ alone serve only s to bury an important issue and thwart the much-needed nationl discussion on the topic.

“What’s especially dispiriting about this flat denial of reality is how little prospect it offers for rational discussion or compromise,” he said, stressing the fact that hiding deaths does not help end the crisis facing schools. “(W)hen the pro-gun side of the argument consists of simply insisting that the gun violence that people are so distraught about isn’t real gun violence? Then there’s no clear way forward at all.”

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.