On Thursday night, CNN hosted a much-anticipated town hall called Guns in America. Moderated by anchor Anderson Cooper, the forum featured President Obama taking questions for more than an hour from people on both sides of the gun control debate. The cable news special came on the heels of the President’s modest executive actions regarding background checks and licensing for firearm dealers.
During CNN’s broadcast, Cooper noted that the National Rifle Association had been invited to participate in the town hall, but declined to send any representative, despite their offices being less than two miles away from the location. Obama pointed out during the forum that he had tried to get the NRA to meet with him multiple times at the White House, to no avail. He let Cooper know that the organization had an open invitation to speak to him, provided they could put aside their heated rhetoric.
Over on Fox News, lo and behold, a key member of the NRA appeared to discuss both the town hall and why the group refuses to meet with Obama. Speaking to The Kelly File’s Megyn Kelly, chief lobbyist Chris Cox repeated the same old talking points we’ve heard a thousand times from the NRA, without actually addressing any of Obama’s proposals. He also made sure to set his hyperbole meter to 11 while tossing in some good ol’ fashioned racist dog whistling.
It was sort of a three-step approach Cox took to the interview. First, Kelly asked him if his organization was prepared to meet with POTUS after he tossed out the open invitation. Cox used that to criticize the President on his terrorism policies because that’s been one of the tactics used by the right these past couple of days.
“This president is trying to create an illusion that he’s doing something to keep people safe. He needs to do that because the truth is his policies have failed miserably. We saw that materialize itself in San Bernardino when we had a terrorist attack. This president didn’t use it as an opportunity to unite this country. He didn’t use it as an opportunity to lay out a plan to defeat terrorism. He used it as an opportunity to impose more gun control on law-abiding Americans.”
OK then. Well, Mr. Cox, can you let us know why you didn’t send anyone to take part in a nationally-broadcast discussion on guns in this country? Especially considering that your organization is really only about guns?
“So did we participate in CNN’s event tonight? No, we didn’t. We were offered one pre-screened question. Megyn, I know that you don’t send your questions over to the White House so I would rather have a conversation with you that’s intellectually honest than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question.”
(Based on the questions asked at the forum, even if they were “pre-screened”, the person asking would have had ample chance to editorialize and make whatever point they wanted. One need only look at Taya Kyle or Paul Babeu.)
Finally, after Kelly asked him if it’d make sense to meet with Obama, we were then gifted with a wonderfully ridiculous word salad which included Cox saying that it wouldn’t make sense to meet with the nation’s first black President since all they’d talk about would be basketball.
“This president can talk about background checks all day long. But that’s nothing more than a distraction away from the fact that he can’t keep us safe and he supported every gun control proposal that’s ever been made. He doesn’t support the individual right to own a firearm. That’s been the position of his Supreme Court nominees. That’s been the position of his administration. So what are we going to talk about, basketball? I’m not really interested in going over and talking to the president who doesn’t have a basic level of respect or understanding of the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners in this country.”
Remember, this is the organization that apparently rules over more than half of Congress.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Fox News: