A Familiar Editorial Split After Parkland Shooting, but Not Everywhere

The front page of The New York Post on Friday included a plea for gun control that broke new ground for the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.

In the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, President Trump’s favorite newspaper carried an unusually blunt message on its front page.

“Mr. President, Please Act,” read the headline on Friday’s edition of The New York Post, above a photograph of two sobbing students. “We need sensible gun control to help stop the slaughter.”

The image evoked the tabloid’s crusading heyday, back when Mr. Trump was a fixture in its pages and headlines demanded that former Mayor David N. Dinkins “Do Something” amid a 1990 crime spree.

Friday’s front page turned heads with its full-throated call for gun control, a subject that the tabloid, owned for decades by the conservative news titan Rupert Murdoch, had embraced only tepidly in the past.

It was one of the more striking responses from the news media to Wednesday’s killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., an attack that quickly revived the national debate over restricting access to guns, and why politicians have taken few steps to do so.

The shift by The Post, among the friendlier news organizations toward Mr. Trump, was seen by proponents of gun control as a potentially favorable development.

In October, after a gunman killed dozens of people at a concert in Las Vegas, the paper editorialized that a 1990s-era assault weapon ban was merely “cosmetic,” and noted that mass shootings accounted “for a fraction” of domestic firearm-related deaths.

In Friday’s paper, The Post devoted two full pages to an editorial that called for, among other gun-control measures, the reinstatement of the 1994 federal ban on various assault weapons, which expired in 2004. “Mr. President, this is your moment,” the paper wrote, urging Mr. Trump to “prove how much you truly want to curb the carnage.”

Another Murdoch-owned outlet, however, showed no sign of championing gun control measures. published a tough critique of other networks’ coverage of the shootings, noting that the major network newscasts cited a statistic from an anti-gun group, Everytown for Gun Safety, that 18 school shootings had occurred this year. As other outlets, including The Washington Post, have pointed out, that statistic included a suicide at a closed school and an incident when gunshots were fired in a high school parking lot but no one was injured.

The story charged that news networks had “held up the statistic to slam America as the gun crime rampant hell-scape.”

In fact, gun violence remains a significant challenge in American life; since the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., at least 239 school shootings have occurred nationwide.

Still, as so often occurs after major news events, false reports gained steam on social media — and in some major news outlets — before the authorities debunked them hours later.

The Associated Press, ABC News and even the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer repeated a claim by a Florida white nationalist group that it had ties to the Parkland killer, Nikolas Cruz. Law enforcement officials later said they had no evidence linking Mr. Cruz to extremist groups. The initial claim was traced to online forums like 4chan, where commenters appeared to gloat about deceiving journalists.

More familiar divides among the news media also emerged.

The right-leaning framed coverage of the shooting as a critique of the F.B.I., which Trump supporters have frequently derided as biased against the president. Breitbart took pains to suggest a seemingly damning contrast: the F.B.I.’s fumbling of a tip about the Parkland shooter and the agency’s work investigating allegations of collusion between Russians and Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

S. E. Cupp, a conservative host on HLN, scolded other broadcast journalists for what she called a lack of objectivity. “When it comes to guns, news anchors take off their journalist hats and put on their activist hats,” Ms. Cupp said on Thursday.

Some newspapers dedicated their front pages to pleas for action.

The Boston Globe ran a giant headline — “We Know What Will Happen Next” — above a column by Nestor Ramos that envisioned a future mass shooting and declared, “There are only three things we don’t know about the next time: Who, where, and how many?”

And The Daily News, the crosstown rival of The Post and a longtime supporter of stricter gun laws, ran a provocative, if bleakly predictable, image of a young girl wearing a bulletproof vest on its front page

The headline: “Is my school next, Mommy?”

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