Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Working With the Media

I note that our blood enemies have launched their own "media education program," bankrolled by the nasty little fascist in New York:
To help journalists and news organizations in the Southwest improve their reporting on guns and gun violence, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School is organizing a two-day regional workshop April 17 and 18, 2015 for reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers. The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)  
Speakers include national public health and policy experts; researchers and clinicians; award-winning journalists, and prevention advocates and survivors.
I note that Dart is offering $350 "travel and expense" stipends to 15 select journalists. Guess where that $350 comes from?

I've seen a lot of buzz on the Internet that basically asks why the firearms industry isn't running exactly the same program.

Well, we did.

Years ago, working with NSSF President Doug Painter, Doug and I created the Media Education Program. The Program was tweaked by Bill Brassard, who is still with NSSF, and Paul Erhardt, now with his own media company that works with IDPA, Apex Tactical and others. In the 6-year span of the NSSF Media Education Program our focus was to put guns in the hands of the journalists and teach them to shoot.

I was privileged to oversee a cadre of instructors that has never been equalled, including Jerry Miculek, Kay Clark, Randi Rogers, "Evil Roy," Bruce Gray, Todd Jarrett, Chris Edwards from GSSF, Walt Rauch from IDPA, Dave Thomas from USPSA, Lisa Munson, Dave Arnold, Dave Lauck, Olympic athletes, top law enforcement trainers like Bill Murphy, top military trainers, etc.

In working with my instructors beforehand, I emphasized that they were to answer any and every question as honestly and thoroughly as possible, because we all fundamentally believed in the correctness and, for lack of a better word, the honor of our cause. Whenever possible, we wanted to show, not tell. In my other conversations with media experts on our side, I steadfastly held to our position of not proselytizing the Second Amendment…my feeling (which proved to be true) was that our students would arrive in the same place through the training. That is, we arranged the cart and the horse in their proper configuration.

We structured the Program on the writings of Malcolm Gladwell, which were revolutionary at the time. The situation we found was that most journalists (and this is unfortunately still the case) unconditionally accept every word from the antigun side as gospel truth handed down on a marble tablet. Our primary concept as articulated by myself and Erhardt was that we weren't trying to "convert" the journalists to our side; rather, we thought of ourselves like a defense attorney in a capital case...we weren't trying to "convert" the jurors to our side of the story; rather we wanted to create a small shadow of doubt that every word coming from our enemies was true. If we could plant that doubt, we had succeeded.

We were also not afraid to reach out to there who shared our views. I brought trainers from the Pink Pistols, the largest gay self-defense group, on board. And yes, I took a lot of crap — a LOT of crap! — for it. But it was the right thing to do. My absolute statement was that people who shoot, hunt, compete with firearms, carry guns for self-defense...they are our friends! Deeds, not words.

The Media Education Program was the most successful media outreach ever attempted by the gun culture. At the beginning of the Program, Sarah Brady had bragged that with one phone call in the morning she could be on all 3 national networks (3 national networks…isn't that quaint???) by that evening; the Program broke Brady's stranglehold on the news without directly attacking the antigun "spinners." We made unprecedented inroads into the antigun media...and it drove our enemies crazy. I even got an email from a prominent antigun activist who had, ironically, come up through magazine journalism much as I had. His email read, "Who ARE you?" My answer, equally cryptic, was, "I am you."

The Program was expanded into Hollywood with the now semi-legendary stunt, property master, armorer and action/second unit director events, addressing the antigun biases in Hollywood once again through training and, honestly, exposure to our marvelous team of instructors. After the first 2 events, major Hollywood directors and even well-known actors began asking about upcoming events and whether they could attend. We expanded the Program again into fiction, working with the Mystery Writers of America to produce an event for their national convention that the group called the best, most successful event ever held by that group. My plan was to keep chipping away at American popular culture, based on concepts created by myself and Paul Erhardt on the "normalization" of firearms in American society.

We succeeded beyond our wildest crazy-ass best-case projections. The industry still benefits from the Program, which ended years ago. We forged alliances within the shooting sports and training community and helped everyone to understand the importance — and the power —  of speaking with a single voice and staying on message.

There are many great stories that came out of the Program. I tend to remember our victories...there was one antigun columnist in California who started his column on the Program with something to the effect that one usually thought of gun owners as "ignorant hillbillies," but that "these people are slick, sophisticated and they almost sold me!" LOL! I loved it when the Brady organization called me "crazy" in the New York Times.

In the end, the industry decided that such events were too expensive to continue. Yes, they were expensive. But the payoff was huge. Worse, I think we as an industry simply retreated from dealing with the MSM, and like a stretched rubber band, it popped back to shorter than it was before. The industry to the best of my knowledge maintains no media outreach.

Here's one last little bit of irony. Note the "$350 expense stipend" offered for this event. The bottom of the one-pager put our by Dart Center reads, "This workshop is being made possible by a generous grant from Everytown for Gun Safety."

When we ran the Media Education Program, we initially considered offering journalists a travel stipend to help them get to the event. The journalists I bounced the idea off of were ENRAGED, furious that I would even consider such an "unethical" action. How dare I suggest they take money from the "gun lobby?" And yet how easily they take money from the antigun lobby...

Me thinks any "journalist" who accepts the $350 "stipend" is a whore.


KevinC said...

Me thinks any "journalist" who accepts the $350 "stipend" is a whore.

"Madam, we've already established who you are. Now we are just haggling over price."

nj larry said...

"Well, we did."

That, as you note is past tense. Bloomberg made his bones on information, marketing, and control of the customer. He ain't no dummy. A fascist yes. But no dummy. I used to sell to his company. Worked with his partners. So I expect him to be on the scene for the next couple of decades. What surprises me is an absence of rich old white guys on our side. Other than Robert Levy (who is a really interesting guy with an interesting story) where are the Billionaire Texans? The guys who grew up with guns. The guys who have been on 50 African safaris? The SCI Dallas guys.

Anonymous said...

I thought your media education was great and was very disappointed when it ended. Simply giving the media contacts on the pro gun side to allow questioning I feel served well.

Too bad it was not continued.


Jason M said...


Wasn't there also a problem that the media, now "educated" by NSF/You, reverting to their old ways when some tragedy happened? I thought you said that in a long, previous post. In short, once a blood enemy, always a blood enemy.

Jason M

MackTheKnife said...

Speaking of our blood enemies, they are now attacking computer hackers, whitehat as well as blackhat, using the same tactics as they use against us: trying to outlaw the very tools that help keep us safe.

If Emperor Obama has his way he will make the use of the tools we use to detect and thwart malicious computer attacks a felony. The insideous creep of freedom erosion continues.


Anonymous said...

OK, after having said all of that, what do WE do?

Life Member

(I know what I will continue to do as an individual.)

Anonymous said...

Read about this on Ms. Cupp's site. She will be there at the invitation of the Dart Center. Can't wait to read her report.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anonymous @ 6:56,

That article is a good read.

A good OFFENSE for us is to be armed with facts. We should check our emotions at the door and simply give facts by presenting the issues in the form of a question. That always disarms any "Anti", be they anti-gun, anti-fossil fuels, anti-capitalism, anti-Constitution, etc.

Life Member

Anonymous said...

"A good OFFENSE for us is to be armed with facts. We should check our emotions at the door and simply give facts by presenting the issues in the form of a question. That always disarms any “Anti”, be they anti-gun, anti-fossil fuels, anti-capitalism, anti-Constitution, etc."

This fundamental misunderstanding of our enemies could not be more wrong. We have been arguing facts for 20+ years and the facts have supported us well for 10-12 of those years, but a little thing happened along the way. Dems realized that they didn’t actually have to follow through on their pledged support for the 2nd Amendment. Now, we are a sound byte driven society in which articulating facts and citing arcane statistics takes longer than the attention span of the audience.

In politics, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

No, what is needed by our side is to counter emotion with more emotion. Emphasize the personal impact of restrictions to you and your loved ones, etc.

MB described a way we have previously “won”, and our enemies have adopted our tactic and are now using it against us.

Everyone who thought Colorado would be ground zero for major gun control pushes 4-5 years ago, raise their hands.

Anonymous said...

Could you share some of the actors and directors?

Anonymous said...

Anon @12:44,

I won't disagree that emotion is a very powerful driver, but people, humans have an inborn curiosity, or need for information and facts. Facts are fascinating. Remember the "knowledge is power" saying? Falsehoods may get attention, but they fall off the table quickly. Truth makes for a very good story. Maybe presenting the truth in a sensational way may be in order?

Perhaps we should do all of the above? I'll agree to include what you suggest as well! There's room for it all.

Our problem is illustrated in how we all got on this "thread". We're operating in the past! We're not even in the fight. Only the lyin' lefties are out on the battlefield. We're hiding behind what we did 10 years ago! We're not even in the fight! Instead, we're preoccupied with the merits of a single-stage trigger vs. 2-stage. We should be debating, hell shouting-out that the left is all wrong again and showing why!

Stick together,

Life Member

nj larry said...

Personally I am waiting for Chris Christie or Mitt Rooommmmey to carry our banner right into the White House in 2016 !!! Then we won't have any worries anymore !!!

Michael Bane said...

First the easy answer...on the actors and directors...wish I could. But Hollywood runs pretty much like "Fight Club" — the first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club, etc.

I am not a strong believer in arguing facts. As one of you Anons noted, we've been doing that for decades as we consistently lost ground. Erhardt and I strongly believed (believe) in taking the fight to the enemy. I remember the NPR Ombudsman telling me I wasn't a very nice person just before he hung up on me. Well, that's true...I'm not a very nice person sometimes. But within a day we had our spokespeople on NPR. Hell, not nice man that I am, I've been on NPR a couple of times since then.

Quite honestly, we will never convert our enemies — that's why I always went for *doubt* rather than a Hail Mary conversion. And yes, we had our failures. Paul Barrett, who wrote the Glock book, was one of our journalists (which is why he asked me to write a forward for the book...I refused). Paul was under the hugely mistaken idea than he could be the spokesman for the "Third Way," the ostensible middle ground between us and them.

I've said it before and I will say it again...there is no middle ground. Michael Bloomberg in his most vivid fetid fantasies would see us all loaded into cattle cars and sent East. Remember Hilary saying people shouldn't be allowed to THINK the way we think about our guns! Do you imagine for one single minute that she's joking?

We should never allow the enemy to choose the battle-space. We should never allow the enemy to choose the language and tone of the debate. We should never allow the enemy to see our full strategy. And we should never, ever forget that the enemy is the enemy. Read Sun Tzu.


Anonymous said...

Let me re-ask my question. (Reference: "OK, after having said all of that, what do we do?")

I'll ask these questions instead:
What is our OBJECTIVE?
How will we go about achieving it?
What is our plan?

Call me stupid, but I'm not exactly readin' it here.

Life Member

Michael Bane said...

Anon…I wouldn't call you stupid at all! One of the key points Erhardt and I homed in on was "objective"—what do we want? Obviously, we would like to see the normalization of guns in American society, but that's sort of like the pursuit of happiness.

Instead, we need deliverables that will lead us to that normalization. For example, concealed carry was a deliverable. Yet CCW didn't come from the top down; rather, it came from the bottom up. The Florida CCW movement, which became the national trigger for shall issue, was purely a local phenomenon.

That's why I've used the platforms I have to call for specific deliverables, then judge our so-called political allies on whether they work with us on those deliverables.

I threw an agenda on the table:

1) National CCW reciprocity
2) Gun owner protection act
3) NFA overhaul; suppressors to the AOW list; SBR, SBS delisted

At least 1 & 2 are do-able. Will Obama veto them? Probably. Then we should pass them again. Number 3? I honestly think we can move suppressors to the AOW $5 transfer list.

And hey, I'm not saying men is the ONLY agenda! But I don't know of anyone whose put anything else on the table! If we don't know where we're going, we sure as hell don't know how to get there.

So Anon, you nailed it!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael,

That's a program that we can all get behind. I also respect the fact that you have to walk a thin line when addressing these issues. We all need to push for them and stick together. Thanks for your leadership.

Life Member

Anonymous said...

You cannot address emotions with facts: a great website (on risk communication) describes (in many writings) the problem(s) with trying to 'answer outrage' with facts: teaching someone who is not interested in learning gets you nowhere! He addresses a gun control (nut) here; gets taken to task by his webmaster; then gives pretty good advice!