January 16, 2013

Today on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell brings up the controversial Web promotion by the National Rifle Association (NRA) accusing President Obama of hypocrisy for opposing the arming of schools when his children study under the watchful eye of guards packing heat. Digging into the issue with Gun Owners of America spokesman Erich Pratt, Mitchell presses:

Let me ask you about the NRA video … which targets basically the president’s children, who have Secret Service protection as [do] all children of presidents. Over the line?

No, comes the response from Pratt, though in many more, meandering words.
After more back and forth, Mitchell decides that she’s got a winning question and goes bulldog: “Is it over the line for the NRA to put up a Web video addressing the issue of the president’s children having Secret Service protection? … Children of presidents have been off-limits for decades,” protests Mitchell.
Great confusion clouds Mitchell’s line of inquiry. She is sticking up for a long-standing tradition of Beltway media etiquette and restraint — that of leaving intact the privacy of the president’s offspring. That’s a good tradition.
And it’s also one that’s compromised not at all by the NRA promotion. That presidential children get armed protection invades their privacy about as much as reporting that they reside at the White House.
Now, if Mitchell instead had specified that she was addressing the prudence, the political appeal and the effectiveness of rolling the president’s kids into a promotion on gun rights, perhaps her segment would have come unstuck.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.