Much was being made online Monday about a decision by Fox News Channel to avoid discussion of gun control in the wake of multiple killings at a Connecticut elementary school. An e-mail “edict,” as some have put it, from a Fox News executive who didn’t want the topic discussed over the weekend has even been making the rounds.
One problem with that narrative, though: Fox News insiders say it isn’t true and that, in fact, both sides of the gun-control debate were represented many times throughout the weekend’s programming.
New York Magazine got the ball rolling with a story indicating that David Clark, executive producer in charge of weekend programming, “gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air.”
Politico ran a version of the story with the headline, “Fox News producers told not to address gun control,” and Huffington Post reported that Fox News executives “explicitly barred people from discussing the topic.” The Daily Beast said that Clark “instructed his producers not to allow gun-control talk on air, even as the national conversation turned to gun control and producers begged for exemptions.”
But a cursory look at the programming that Fox News aired over the weekend indicates that gun control was a topic at least five times, including a lengthy discussion between host Chris Wallace and a Democratic lawmaker, followed by Wallace with a Republican lawmaker. That segment is embedded below, and similar segments where gun control was a topic over the weekend can be seen at FoxNews.com.
And sources say the initial e-mail from Clark was not the networkwide edict it has been portrayed as but an e-mail to three people concerning a panel discussion on one show.
The initial e-mail from Clark to three panelists reads: “Gentlemen, it is too soon to talk the politics of gun control. The victims’ families still don’t even have the bodies of their loved ones. Let’s leave it for another time. Thanks.”
New York Magazine quotes from follow-up e-mails Clark sent to those who were involved with the segment. A Fox News representative said they are not authorized to share private e-mails between executives and on-air panelists and could not comment further on those exchanges.