National media exaggerate anti-Ayotte gun control protests

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Two very different pictures are emerging of what took place this weekend at a series of townhall meetings by Kelly Ayotte, the Republican senator from New Hampshire.

Ayotte traveled back to the Granite State to meet with constituents, and among the topics that came up were her votes against new gun control measures. But local and national news media are giving sharply contrasting accounts of what really happened when the gun control issue surfaced.

If you read about the meetings in the national press, you likely went away thinking the Republican lawmaker was overwhelmed by pro-gun control critics. You might think the opposite if you read reports from the local news there.

“The big media folks flocked to the Granite State this week as though it was the First-in-the-Nation presidential primary, all because they wanted to see Sen. Ayotte get yelled at for voting against a measure that would have expanded gun control,” columnist Shawn Millerick wrote in the New Hampshire Journal, lamenting the coverage from national outlets.

Millerick added: “The media certainly covered what they wanted to see. The New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico all created the impression that Ayotte faced a firestorm of criticism at her town hall meetings.”

Politico’s story was titled, “Kelly Ayotte on defense over gun vote.”

The Washington Post headlined it’s story, “Sen. Kelly Ayotte becomes focus of gun-control groups after voting against background checks.”

The New York Times wrote, “In New Hampshire, Senator Finds Her Vote on Gun Bill Is Hot Topic.”

The stories in local press gave a different impression. The Concord Monitor reported that, “The crowd of about 250 in the Winnisquam Regional High School cafetorium seemed mostly supportive of Ayotte, applauding frequently, including after a man thanked her for her vote against the background checks legislation.”

WMUR, the state’s only network affiliate, said of the anti-Ayotte protesters: “Just as many, if not more, came out to applaud the senator’s stand.” A quick review of video clips from WMUR and other sources indicates Ayotte supporters were more numerous than detractors.

In his column, Millerick also posted photos of license tags outside the townhalls, suggesting that many of the protesters were from out of state.

“Complaints about liberal media bias can become tedious,” Millerick said. “The mainstream media is very liberal, that is well established. Griping about it rarely gets anyone anywhere. But occasionally, the collective groupthink of the elite establishment media becomes so biased that it actually needs to be called out.”

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