By Brian Lowry
Looking back on the column I wrote in the immediate aftermath of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012, it appears my analysis was about half-right. But it was correct in the way that most mattered — that inertia would win out, and ultimately nothing would be done.
Responding to columnist George Will’s statement on ABC’s “This Week” that the challenges associated with curbing such events were politically and practically insurmountable, I suggested another hurdle involved media: “Because after a few days, those anchors will pack up and return to New York and D.C. And Newtown will join Aurora and too many others on the tragic roster of names in our fast-fading memories.”
To its credit, the media’s sustained interest in the story surpassed expectations. Despite a famously short attention span made shorter by the current digital environment, news outlets stuck with their coverage and helped hold lawmakers’ feet to the fire.
Yet the elusive, complex nature of what causes societal violence — and the tendency for the usual suspects to deflect blame from their sacred cows — finally made it easier for legislators to do what they do best in this age of partisan gridlock, which is give speeches, express grief and move on.
Republicans cited mental illness, and the prevalence of violence in a mass entertainment media many despise for reasons that have as much to do with Hollywood’s liberal politics as its explicit content. The Brent Bozell-backed Culture and Media Institute, for example, issued research this week under the headline, “Networks Remember Newtown with 39 Gun Deaths Week Before Anniversary,” citing a cable-TV roster “awash in violence.”