On Dec. 23, 2012, former NBC anchor David Gregory hosted an interview with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on “Meet the Press.”
As expected, the interview was hostile, with Gregory repeatedly badgering LaPierre over his not supporting a federal high-capacity magazine ban. But instead of simply talking about 30-round magazines, Gregory brought one on set to wave in front of the cameras. The problem? The “Meet the Press” studio is located in Washington, D.C., where merely possessing an empty high-capacity magazine is illegal.
“No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm,” the law states. “For the purposes of this subsection, the term large capacity ammunition feeding device means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”
The punishment for possession of a high-capacity magazine is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. NBC had apparently contacted the police to ask for special permission to use the magazine on air, and the request was denied. Gregory used it anyway and got a free pass on the consequences for doing so.
To give some perspective, D.C. businessman Mark Witaschek had a single empty shotgun shell from a bird hunt, a spent brass casing and muzzleloader reloading supplies, which are considered ammunition under the law, in his Georgetown home when it was raided by dozens of police officers. Witaschek was prosecuted by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan in a lengthy, two-year-long process and convicted. Nathan refused to prosecute Gregory.
When Gregory was eventually replaced by Chuck Todd, it was because of ratings, not because he essentially violated federal law on set to prove his personal political point. There was no punishment from NBC.
Fast-forward two years and we’re seeing another member of the liberal elite getting a free pass for behavior that would have landed anyone else in the unemployment line.
This time, it’s former Clinton White House communications hack and current ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Stephanopoulos was busted by the Washington Free Beacon last week for donating a total of $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation without disclosure to his employer or the audiences he serves. The revelation came less than one week after Stephanopoulos conducted a harsh interview with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, where he accused him of having a lack of evidence to support his claims that Hillary Clinton traded political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of State. Stephanopoulos defended the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation and claimed ABC News had done a thorough investigation and found no wrongdoing — all while hiding his own donations to the organization.
ABC hasn’t announced any plans to reprimand Stephanopoulos — after all, he was just helping to protect the environment and fund AIDS research.
“I want to address some news you may have seen about me. Over the last several years I’ve made substantial donations to dozens of charities including the Clinton Global Foundation. Those donations were a matter of public record but I should have made additional disclosures on air when we covered the foundation. And I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake,” Stephanopoulos said during an apology on “Good Morning America.” “Even though I made them strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children, and protect the environment in poor countries, I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.”
Any other anchor, even on the same network, would have certainly been punished if not fired immediately for this severe breach of journalistic ethics. This problem isn’t about the donations being made in the first place, it’s the fact that he hid them from viewers while covering, and defending, the Clinton Foundation.
Last week Stephanopoulos announced as somewhat of a self-imposed punishment that he will not moderate a GOP primary debate scheduled for Feb. 6 with the Republican National Committee, but he was never confirmed to moderate the debate by the RNC in the first place.
Special treatment isn’t just reserved for Washington’s politicians, it’s for the most liberal, elite anchors as well. As for the rest of us, there are consequences for breaking the law and for conflict of interest nondisclosure.
Pavlich is editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.