Pollster Focuses on Media's Anti-Gun Bias

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

Kansas City, Mo. (CNSNews.com) - A leading opinion pollster said Sunday she believes the national media's anti-gun bias, as reflected in much of the reporting about gun crimes and gun issues, stems from the fact that most reporters and anchors don't know much about guns.

"The reason that the media are so set against gun issues because they literally don't know anyone who owns a gun. They live in places where no one owns a gun, where no one smokes, where no one at the country club talks about the sanctity of unborn life and everyone there thinks campaign finance reform is a good idea and tax cut are a horrible idea because their kids are already in the finest schools," said KellyAnne Conway, president of the Polling Company.

Conway told a seminar on media coverage at the NRA convention here that many national correspondents and anchors are out of touch with ordinary people because they "live in gated communities and they have all the disposable income and plastic surgeons and diamond jewelry." This, she said, gives them the freedom to talk about things that the rest of America really doesn't focus upon.

Conway's company polled voters whom she said "actually went out and voted" during last November's election to find out what issues motived them.

"The 2000 election showed, I think the most brilliant example in a long time of the difference between agreement and intensity, and it certainly is always strong on the Second Amendment issues. Any time you have the phrase 'gun control' in a poll you are certain to have the disengaged population, 49 percent, responding to the phraseology, saying they support it, not knowing much about what it is," Conway said.

Conway said her polling also showed the difference between the "chattering class in the media" and the "voting class."

"We asked the question, do you agree or disagree with the following statement: 'Most news media unfairly represent the positions and beliefs of the National Rifle Association and their members.'

Forty-eight percent agreed and 33 percent disagreed, she said. "The 48 to 33, I think, is wonderful. Thirty percent of those polled said they strongly agree with that statement as opposed to 33 percent combined as saying they somewhat or strongly disagree with that statement," Conway said.

According to Conway, the poll also found that "self-identified independents are more likely than the overall population of actual voters to believe the media aren't fair when reporting on the NRA and its members. She said 51 percent of those polled agreed.

Reaching out for other issues

Reflecting on NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre's declaration on Saturday that the gun organization is going to fight passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, Conway said, "That's going to be a big battle. It's very important that we get engaged in issues and other conservative causes that don't necessarily pinpoint the Second Amendment."

Conway said it's important that NRA members stand up for tax reform, stand up for a sound presidential energy policy and get involved in other areas where the media would not necessarily expect gun owners to become involved.

Conway advised NRA members not to believe what the media says about them or the organization and its activities.

"Don't let them define who you are," she said, adding that the way to get around that is to create "an echo chamber of our own."

"Ladies and gentlemen, the fact is, the NRA is increasing membership to 4.3 million members while at the same time there's a collateral drop-off in readership of these major national newspapers, and more importantly, the viewership of these nightly network news programs. That is very significant," Conway said.

Conway also encouraged members to write letters to the editors of local newspapers and participate not only on network talk shows but in local ones to make sure the NRA's voice is heard.