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Will PBS 'Frontline' Series on Sandy Hook Hit Hard on Gun Issues? | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Will PBS 'Frontline' Series on Sandy Hook Hit Hard on Gun Issues?

Frontline has now posted a preview and video trailer and two-minute interview excerpt (see below) for its two-part series starting next Tuesday on Sandy Hook mass killer Adam Lanza, how he was raised by his mother, and how the tragedy sparked a very polarized gun debate in that town and across the country.

The Hartford Courant has joined in the probe, and its first major story based on this research wlll be published this Sunday. And PBS promises many other programs on gun violence via its various other units, such as its public affairs and science divisions.

But how tough an approach will they take? Will it be overly “even-handed” or really break new ground and shift the debate at least a little?

One issue that I’ve long lamented as being underplayed by the media is the role of Nancy Lanza, the mother. She is often painted in sympathetic colors, as single mom who faced very tough issues in raising a troubled son. Fair enough… to a point. But she was also the one who bought an arsenal of guns, taught Adam to shoot and left them close at hand for his fateful, fatal, use. She was also something of a “survivalist,” apparently.

Yet PBS, in one of its previews, portrays her in the main headline as “the 27th victim.” Really? I would say “enabler” or even, if you will, “accomplice.” She is such a key figure because her case reveals so much at the heart of the current debate, with millions owning assault-style weapons (and other deadly guns), and keeping them within reach of young or sick family members.

Or perhaps I will change my mind after the viewing the series, which does look at the gun debate set off by the tragedy.

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“After the horrible events in Newtown, we asked ourselves what we could do, as public service media, to add context and analysis to the news coverage,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive and general manager, General Audience Programming, in a statement. “We believe our public affairs and science shows will bring additional perspective and continue the national conversation about this specific tragedy and open a wider lens on how mass shootings affect us all.”

Here’s a full press release on the series. Below: trailer and excerpt.
 

 

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