Accuracy in Media

Teen Vogue does its readers a disservice by running a piece that doesn’t even make sense internally to itself.

It is, of course, about the cause du jour of gun control, but that doesn’t excuse it from not being edited properly.

For example, readers are told, “The gun industry’s business model is predicated on its ability to sell as many lethal weapons to as many Americans as possible. Yet unlike every other industry, it enjoys immunity from civil liability when it acts negligently or without regard for public safety. “

Well, the bad guys – as they’re saying they’re bad guys of course – can’t be sued. And yet the piece also says, “Earlier this year, families of Sandy Hook victims reached an unprecedented $73 million settlement with Remington, the manufacturer of the weapon used to murder their loved ones. The plaintiffs alleged Remington deliberately marketed to isolated and angry men, citing advertisements that promised customers that they could ‘clear the room’ or make the opposition ‘bow down.’

“Remington settled. If this kind of settlement is achievable while PLCAA is law, imagine what will be possible once it’s gone.”

Oh, so the bad guys can be sued and even can be beaten. So it sounds like that strong statement up at the top isn’t true then. So why allow someone to make it if they themselves are going to contradict it?

As the piece itself links to the explanation for the act is this:

“The effort to enact this law was a reaction to numerous lawsuits in the early 1990s filed on behalf of more than 40 cities; these lawsuits advanced a novel legal argument alleging that gun manufacturers created a public nuisance through sales practices that enabled firearms to be sold illegally in secondary markets and to be illegally trafficked, after which they ended up being used to commit violent crimes. Not all of these lawsuits were successful, but many resulted in settlement agreements…. “

“Novel legal arguments” is another way of describing people trying it on in a lawsuit. In the piece, again, we’re asked to “Imagine if car companies can’t be sued” and then compare it to what the gun companies were being sued for. As if someone stole a used car and then drunkenly killed someone, it’s the automaker who got sued for not stopping the theft, the drinking or the driving of that used auto. We’d regard that as more than a bit of a stretch.

But as happens in American law, everyone pays their own lawyers (in the British system, in contrast, the loser pays all the lawyers). So, even if these cases are, or were, as ridiculous as that made up idea about autos, the gun companies would still lose fortunes having to defend these “novel legal arguments”. And thus the Act.

Gun companies are still entirely on the hook for their own negligence which is entirely just and right. What they’re not subject to is nuisance suits from everyone with a grudge or political cause.

Now, it’s entirely possible to think that that’s all a good idea or all a bad one. We’re not going to insist upon what should be happening at all. However, Teen Vogue is quite obviously aimed at teenage girls and has a substantial readership of some 5 million visits a month. More importantly, its own slogan is to “educate the influencers of tomorrow”. We think that a fine goal and share the sentiment ourselves. But we would insist on there being some education.

This is an opinion piece, so the demanded standards of proof are generally lower in such things. And yet, really, allowing the insistence that gun manufacturers are protected from negligence suits then proving that they’re not? Without then explaining why they’re protected from being sued into lawyerly oblivion but not from their own actual mistakes?

 




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