What Happens with Famous People and Guns in D.C., Hypocrisy Edition

The Daily Caller published a big story today about the apparent hypocrisy of Media Matters. Is it true? And how does it stack up next to David Gregory and Dianne Feinstein?

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The Daily Caller published a big story today about the apparent hypocrisy of Media Matters, the left-leaning media watchdog group, and the former bodyguard of the group's eccentric founder, David Brock. Citing a few internal emails and the testimony of several anonymous staffers, Daily Caller writer Vince Coglianese reports that Brock's bodyguard carried a concealed handgun on his person while in Washington, D.C., which is illegal since (paging David Gregory) DC bans all concealed firearms.

The story adheres to a recently popular narrative — at least among conservative media outlets — that paints proponents of gun control and/or journalists as double-faced advocates who wish to possess and/or display guns for themselves and nobody else. The narrative is not fabricated, exactly, but it strains to document actual hypocrisy on gun violence. Let's look at a few recent examples, beginning with the Daily Caller's report today.

David Brock's Bodyguard

The back story here is that Brock's former bodyguard, a man named Haydn Price-Morris, was paranoid about his boss being harmed and decided to arm himself with a concealed glock, which is illegal in Washington, D.C., where Media Matters is located. What today's Daily Caller report tries to establish is the provenance of the gun that Price-Morris obtained:

According to an internal email exchange obtained by TheDC, the gun was purchased with cash in Maryland, likely to diminish the chances such a purchase would appear on the tax-exempt group’s books.

Brock wound up firing Price-Morris for breaking the law by carrying a concealed gun sometimes in 2010, according to The Daily Caller: "Despite Brock’s knowledge of the guns, his organization successfully laid the blame for the lapse in judgment at Price-Morris’ feet, and he was quickly let go."

The hypocrisy here is difficult to point out. Yes, it's true that Media Matters aggressively polices media outlets for perceived conservative bias on the issue of gun violence and gun control. And yes, Brock's bodyguard violated DC gun laws. But he was fired for doing so, and later a Media Matters staff member tried to make sure that Price-Morris gave the guns to the police, to be disposed of.

Verdict: An embarrassing episode, but not quite hypocritical.

David Gregory's Magazine

You remember, right? In December, the Meet the Press host displayed a real, high-capacity magazine in the show's DC studio, thus violating — according to the District's Attorney General — the city's ban on such magazines. The incident caught Gregory in something of a bind: in presenting the case for stricter gun laws, he ended up breaking one that already exists. He was eventually cleared of all charges, but not before conservatives, in particular the Washington Times's Emily Miller, rushed to accuse Gregory of thinking himself above the law.

Yet Gregory was not above the law. He and his superiors at NBC fully cooperated with DC police and the Attorney General when they raised the possibility of charges against Gregory, then never brought the charges because the display was found to be within Gregory's first-amendment rights as a journalist, for the "purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy." The notion that Gregory's celebrity protected him from being jailed or fined is still valid, of course! But if he thought himself immune from gun laws, why would he cooperate with a month-long investigation?

Verdict: Again, embarassing. But Gregory played this straight.

Dianne Feinstein's List of Guns

Senator Dianne Feinstein's new proposal to ban 158 guns and ramp up background checks led to two individual accusations of hypocrisy. (Really.)

The first concerned its content. Feinstein's proposal contains an exception for government officials and law enforcement, who are not subject to the ban as it pertains to their occupations. This provision quickly metastasized into a conservative meme that Feinstein wants to confiscate all firearms and, by doing so, establish some sort of tyranny. For example:

The whole issue is not to simply remove semi-automatics, full automatics and reduce the number of rounds that a removable clip will hold, the issue for the likes of Dianne Feinstein is to remove ALL firearms from every law-abiding citizen.

And yet: "No, she has not said the words, but you can see the subtle motives in their moves and hear the whispers in their words."

The second concerns the proposal's announcement. Feinstein unveiled the proposal alongside a prominent display of several functioning models of the guns it would outlaw. Soon thereafter, The Washington Times published an investigation under the breathless headline, "Did Dianne Feinstein pull a David Gregory?," referring to the flap described above. The answer was no:

Brian Weiss, a spokesman for Mrs. Feinstein, told The Washington Times, that, “The weapons were under Washington MPD possession the entire time.” He said that the office “coordinated with the department” and the U.S. Capitol Police.

Verdict: The first is probably the nuttiest charge of hypocrisy. It has no basis in reality. The second is hilariously unlikely. Brandishing a magazine in a television show is one thing, sure, but illegally displaying ten assault rifles in a Senator's office?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.