New details on Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial controversy revealed on NRANews
On Friday, September 30, Buckeye Firearms Association's Chad Baus was invited on NRANews to discuss commentary he had published on this website regarding a grossly inaccurate Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial on House Bill 347.
In addition to offering a short summary of what the editorial claimed versus what the bill actually says, Baus recounted a conversation he had with Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page editor Brent Larkin. For those who missed the discussion, the highlights have been prepared below.
The following are not a literal transcript of Baus' comments on NRANews, but rather a summary of the information conveyed.
This all started with an Associated Press story written by John McCarthy on Thursday Sept. 15 which totally botched the description of what this legislation would do. And of course being a wire service, that was repeated dozens of times in media outlets across the state. Jim Irvine was interviewed for the story, and could tell from the questions that McCarthy misunderstood, or probably more likely hadn’t read, the bill. He tried to tell him before, and we contacted him again afterwards to tell him to look at the bill. On the following Monday, this AP writer wrote a story glossing over his errors but reporting that the bill had been introduced with a "major change".
Now I can give newspapers who editorialized on this right after that story a tiny break – if they read the first AP story instead of the bill, I think it’s pretty sad that is the source they use to decide whether or not to oppose a piece of legislation, but I can understand how it happened. But now we come to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Their editorial comes not one or two days after the bill is introduced, and after the first AP story runs, but rather it comes TWO WEEKS later. Now either the newspaper is being terribly irresponsible and opposing bills it has never read, or it is being intentionally misleading because they know the actual wording of the bill is something that Ohioans are going to like. After two weeks for them to have read the bill, I’m not so sure the word "lie" in the headline of my story at buckeyefirearms.org is too strong a word.
This afternoon I spoke with Plain Dealer Brent Larkin, who is the editorial page editor – told him I was coming on NRA News today about the errors in their editorial regarding HB347, and thought I should call first to see if they have any explanation.
He asked me to tell him what was incorrect. I pointed out the main point, which was when they say Rep. Aslanides’s new firearms law reform bill, House Bill 347, "would end journalists' access to the list of people granted a concealed-weapons permits", and again that "lawmakers are seeking to close off public access completely" to the list of licenseholders.
His response was "well, what would it do then?" I explained that it would allow a battered woman the chance to prevent the release of her personally identifying information to the media, or a family who has moved 3 times in 5 years in fear of a stalker. I explained that it would in NO WAY " end journalists' access to the list", and in no way has Aslanides’ bill sought to close off public access completely" to the list of licenseholders.
He responded something to the effect that the bill DOES change the law, or amend it, and I replied "but that’s not what it says". He then told me "If there is an error in the story, I will address it."
So I said, well, another error is in the first paragraph, where it states that "Nearly 18 months ago, the Ohio legislature unwisely voted to give most Ohioans the opportunity to carry concealed weapons. Since then, almost 45,000 permits have been issued." But the latest numbers that are out from the Attorney General are for Quarter 2 (three months ago), and show that over 60,000 licensees are now protecting themselves in Ohio. We're just about to get Quarter 3 numbers, which will no doubt be even higher.
He repeated his statement that "If there is an error in the story, I will address it."
I asked if he would mind telling me who wrote it. Larkin said he would take responsibility for it – it was a newspaper editorial, opinion of the newspaper.
I asked if the Plain Dealer normally read legislation before they oppose it. He retorted by asking "Is this a deposition?" I explained once again that I was going on national news soon, and wanted to understand how this problem had happened. He said "I couldn’t give a…whip…what you say on NRA News." By this time he was using profanity and yelling at me. He finally admitted they don’t always read the whole bill, but read LSC summaries. As a side note: after this conversation we double-checked with our contacts at the General Assembly today, and they confirmed an LSC summary for this bill doesn’t even exist yet because it has just been introduced.
Believe it or not, I got him calmed down again, and we wound up agreeing that the media access loophole inserted to please Bob Taft was a horrible compromise. I tried to get him to comment on the compromise language that is actually in the bill, but he said he’d have to read it first!! This after his newspaper had already written an editorial opposing the legislation...
Buckeye Firearms Association will continue to monitor the newspaper, and will report as to what form Larkin's "addressing" the errors takes. Baus has been invited back on NRANews.com's Cam & Company to provide an update, and the time for that appearance will of course be posted at www.buckeyefirearms.org when a time is confirmed.