Joe Biden and Barack Obama announce gun control proposals earlier this month. (Reuters/Larry Downing.)
Not so sure it’s that simple, but a piece yesterday at the Washington Post site makes case that the post–Sandy Hook national “debate” over gun violence, proliferation and culture has not faded as quickly as in previous cases because the press has kept it alive, with an assist from the White House.
[E]ven the murders of first-graders couldn’t compete with the issue attention cycle—at least initially. Just two weeks after the shooting, gun control looked like it was headed to the dustbin of history again. In particular, the fiscal-cliff debate (and the attendant congressional f-bombs) sucked almost out of the oxygen out of the Washington media air. In the week surrounding the New Year, “fiscal cliff” appeared in the news four times as often as “gun control.”
But coverage shortly moved on to a third phase. Whereas gun control had evaporated from the news within about a month of the earlier shootings, in the case of Newtown, it surged back in mid-January.
They even supply graphs to prove their point. I’m wondering how truly “alive” it really is but it’s an interesting piece for sure. However, here’s the key conclusion:
But the media tend to be reactive, “indexing” their coverage according to the political debate happening within Washington. The surest way for an issue to stay in the news is for politicians to fight about it. (It doesn’t hurt when the president mentions it in an inaugural address.) When political elites publicly push for legislation, as the Democrats are doing now, journalists take notice. But if policymakers stop publicly arguing over gun control—either because legislation appears moribund or because debates over fiscal and spending issues crowd it out—the news media are likely to stop caring about it, too.