Progressives must shut down truth-tellers, particularly the conservative ones, because the opposing view proves how badly their policies and ideas really stink. “Shut down” is where I find myself after taking Professor (emeritus) George Kennedy to task over his ridiculous comparison of the National Rifle Association to the Islamic State. Kennedy compared the influence of the terror group to the political lobbying influence of the NRA in a Columbia Missourian op-ed titled “ The NRA’s Influence is Dangerous to Us All.” How ominous.
My column said, among other things: “When has a member of the NRA ever decapitated, set on fire, tossed from a rooftop or otherwise terrorized another American? The linkage is not only rife with improper context; it is false on its face. This failure to represent the opposing, especially conservative, view is an increasingly apparent deficit in the news reporting apparatus in our country.”
My column, titled “Guns and the media,” was published on Friday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Email notification of my suspension was sent to me that afternoon. The Post-Dispatch opinion editor accused me of “failing to disclose” what he called “advocacy work on behalf of the NRA on ‘Cam & Company.’” After a bit of email back and forth with the editor demonstrated shifting and unsupported reasons for the suspension, I chose to terminate the contract. If the same standard that the Post-Dispatch applied to my writing were applied to Kennedy, he never would have had the platform with which to impugn the NRA and its members.
Are other opinion writers held to the same standard? Not if we look at Kennedy’s past work. If the same standard that the Post-Dispatch applied to my writing were applied to Kennedy, he never would have had the platform with which to impugn the NRA and its members. Yet instead of banishing him from the Missourian, editors there have added a correction in a text block above his NRA hit piece stating: “George Kennedy is a retired professor and writes an unpaid column for the Missourian. His views are his own and not necessarily those of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. — Mike Jenner, executive editor, Columbia Missourian.”
Apparently this clarification excuses the journalistic malfeasance of an editor permitting an opinion column to posit that law-abiding Americans exercising their constitutional rights are akin to murderous barbarians practicing terrorism in order to establish a “caliph.” Thanks for clearing that up, Mike!
Is Kennedy’s slanderous article about the NRA and its members an anomaly? Not in the least. He regularly writes predictably leftist screed for the Missourian, and alas, that isn’t even the worst of it. Back in May 2012, Kennedy wrote an op-ed about Food Bank Director Peggy Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick testified in support of Columbia’s Blight Decree/EEZ, for which Kennedy gave her high praise: “To me, the most persuasive speakers Monday were Peggy Kirkpatrick, who heads the Food Bank for central and northeast Missouri, and Tim Rich, her counterpart at the United Way.” He went on, “Ms. Kirkpatrick said that the Food Bank’s pantry on Big Bear Boulevard, the largest local source of free food, has seen an increase of more than 10 percent in its clientele, to 22,638, in the past year. The increase in hunger demonstrates the urgency of job creation, she said.”
At no point in his writing did Kennedy share that he sat on the board of the Food Bank. This was an actual ethical misstep. Should he have lost his unpaid writing gig for the Missourian? Perhaps, but he did not. Since the Food Bank board members aren’t pundits or public figures as I am, and don’t regularly appear in print, television and terrestrial radio media forums, it would be difficult for readers to know that Kennedy was a sitting board member. Not so in my case, as I have bios all over social media and do not hide (in fact, critics accuse me of promoting) my appearances, which are not exclusive to the NRA or its media properties. We have no paid or unpaid affiliation—my support of the Second Amendment and gun owners stems from my background as a fourth-generation veteran, concealed-carry certified gun owner and Bible-believing Christian.
Thomas Sowell once said: “Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts, but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.” If my appearances were an issue because readers might mistakenly believe they were paid advocacy, a simple correction box of the type journalists used to be known to employ would have sufficed. But my sin wasn’t advocacy as an opinion writer with an outsized social media presence and thousands of appearances on national and local TV; that assertion is ridiculous on its face. No. This action is about my direct assault on print media bias and the logical takedown of Professor Kennedy’s horrifying comparison. Should the good professor ever have to choose, which do you think he would prefer: an afternoon with 20 members of ISIS, or lunch with a handful of NRA members?
Should the good professor ever have to choose, which do you think he would prefer: an afternoon with 20 members of ISIS, or lunch with a handful of NRA members? We know what he would decide; he can only survive one of those events.
And that is why Kennedy will continue to write for the Columbia Missourian, while conservative writers will never have a permanent place at the Post-Dispatch. Kennedy doesn’t have to prove progressive ideas achieve results; he need only hew to the progressive dogma to guarantee his place in print media—where the pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment perspective is vehemently opposed.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God, guns, and is a member of the NRA, obviously.