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CNN panned for misleading and irresponsible stories on gun sales and linking deaths to reopening schools

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CNN is once again in hot water following the publication of two stories in recent days that were grossly misleading, one regarding a school reopening in France amid the COVID pandemic and another pertaining to spiking gun sales in the United States.

In the first story, which was about Eugene Delacroix High School in France that reopened last September as the coronavirus pandemic was still a threat, the writer focused on the deaths of family members of students, in addition to fears and concerns about reopening.

The story made the claim that France ensured its classrooms remained open “at all costs,” while adding that some citizens felt “the price was too high” for students at the school since 20 of them lost family members, ostensibly to COVID-19, Fox News reported.

But buried in the article is a statement that the deaths of those family members may not have had anything at all to do with the school being reopened.

“Nothing suggests these deaths were caused by infections at the school,” the story noted, drawing immediate criticism from social media users over what they saw as an intentionally misleading story.

Several studies have shown that schools are not COVID superspreader environments because children don’t get sick from, or spread, the virus.

A second story — which has since been corrected, along with the headline — by CNN Business on gun background check figures from April was wrong for claiming that Illinois had seen more gun sales than any other state, referring to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to report 955,000 checks. The story went on to contrast those figures in Illinois with numbers of background checks in the next five closest states.

However, in reality only 44,217 of the 955,000 checks were for actual gun transfers, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Mark Oliva said in sharing the figures with Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms.

Edwards noted that the NSSF breaks down the background check stats showing actual sales versus checks completed by examining certain codes on each check and assigns them to certain categories, such as a background check conducted on someone who is applying for a concealed carry permit.

Man, @CNN really screwed up a story on gun sales. They wrote an entire article based around the idea that the state of Illinois had more than 900k gun sales last month, when it was really closer to 44k,” Edwards wrote on Twitter.

He went on to add: “According to this CNN story, more than HALF of all gun sales in the U.S. last month took place in IL, and they even claim they know why… but they’re wrong about that too.”

Tuesday evening, CNN’s editorial staff issued a clarification on the gun story.

“Editor’s note: This story and headline have been corrected. An earlier version overstated the number of gun sales that have been recorded in Illinois,” it said.

Oliva noted that guns were sold at a new record level last month, in large part driving by first-time buyers who are increasingly concerned about rising violence and attacks on police.

“April marked 13 months of elevated firearm sales, which have ranged between 1.5 million and 2 million each month,” he said, according to CNN. “Firearm sales spiked in March 2020 and have remained at unprecedented levels since. It’s a remarkable feat of firearm manufacturers to keep pace with this blistering demand.”

Jon Dougherty

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