The media’s response to the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, in Las Vegas, “has been fine, it’s been pro forma,” Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday’s Late Show, though he had a beef with FOX News, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the LA Times, Washington Post, and every newspaper in New York.
“Every time a mass shooting occurs – even after repeated warnings by psychiatrists and criminal justice experts – American journalists behave like Pavlov’s dog, slobbering over unproven allegations and conspiracy theories, and giving publicity to the evil bastard who just killed 50 people,” said an obviously exasperated Colbert.
Here’s a transcript of the rest of his monologue:
And every American who’s paying attention recoils in horror as this journalistic spume sprays from every outlet of the body politic. It’s beyond disgusting. It’s odious and repugnant, but the media is addicted.
The talking heads always say that a gun tragedy is never the right time to talk about how the next mass killer gets radicalized and desensitized. It’s like your alcoholic uncle wrapping his car around a tree and getting out, saying, ‘Today’s not the day to talk about my drinking, okay? I’m still drunk right now. … Who wants to go for a drive?’
It’s not too soon for us, because we’re Americans, and last time I checked, the First Amendment is at least as important as the Second Amendment, so we will talk about it, and shame on you for suggesting we do otherwise.
If journalists can’t avoid sensational reporting that damages the very fabric of our society, then it’s time to enact common-sense mass media reform.
So I’m calling on President Trump and Congress to take action on these sensible measures:
- Common sense restrictions on the kinds of stories the mass media can publish.
- Enhanced background checks on graduates of journalism schools.
- Renewable permits on journalism licenses, subject to proof of competency by the permitting authority.
- A mass buyout program to take irresponsible journalists off the street.
- And a central database of journalists to track psychotropic drug prescriptions and domestic abuse allegations.
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but the Founders never imagined that journalists would have Internet-connected cellphone cameras and instantaneous worldwide distribution of sensational – and often false – reporting.
Anyone who objects to these sensible reforms is both misguided about, and intolerant of, the Democratic principles that this country was built on.