As It Happens

New York Daily News front page hits back. This time with puppies.

The New York Daily News tabloid responds to criticism with sarcasm, following their coverage of the San Bernardino attacks.
(nydailynews.com)

"Everything is awesome."

That's the headline on the front page of Monday's issue of the New York Daily News. The sarcastic caption overlaps pictures of puppies and kittens. It's the tabloid's latest cover after a string of eye-catching headlines since the attacks in San Bernardino.

The headlines target the shooters but also the United States' long history of mass shootings and the National Rifle Association, forcing the paper's position on America's gun debate.

"I think it's been pretty well-received," Jim Rich, editor in chief of the New York Daily News, tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. "As with all of these page ones, over the past week or so surrounding the gun violence issues, it's been about 70/30 in favour." 

Rich spoke to Mann about the tabloid paper's decision to run the controversial covers. Here is part of their conversation.



Helen Mann: Mr. Rich, why puppies and kittens?

Jim Rich: Because while there was a large portion of our readership of people who saw our page ones from last week, where we really took some of our politicians to task over not doing enough on this issue, there was a very strong opposition who were misconstruing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the point that we were making. We thought that that was a direct result of the fact that many people on the side of the gun lobby on this issue, they don't want to have a conversation. They want to shut down any form of debate on it. So this was sort of a tongue in cheek, little sarcastic way of saying, "Okay well how about this thing? Does this make you happy?"

Jim Rich, editor in chief of the New York Daily News. (Twitter)

HM: You had to know that saying "God isn't fixing this" was going to be controversial. Can you describe the thinking that went into going with this?

JR: We definitely knew it was going to be controversial. But it was also the most powerful and direct way of expressing what most people, I think, were feeling at that point and giving voice to their frustration. Also, it was stating the facts, which is prayer and well-wishes are one thing but they should only be the first step - not the final step.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 cover of the New York Daily News. (nydailynews.com)

HM: You talk about being pointed, one of the other covers, the next day after the "God isn't fixing this" one, you identify the NRA's Wayne LaPierre among a group of terrorists. Why is that?

JR: He was listed side by side and we did say he is also a terrorist. When you look at what the organization for which he represents, the NRA, has done in their lobbying effort in this country, as far as quashing or stone-walling legislation and in many ways, just conversation, as it pertains to fixing the gun violence problem in this country, I don't know that anyone can argue that that's not a form of terrorizing because there's a large portion of this country who doesn't feel safe. The only solution that they've offered, other than their thoughts and prayers, is well, you need to arm yourself. I personally am uncomfortable, as are most of the editors here at the Daily News. I think many people in this country are uncomfortable when the concept of the Second Amendment, which is everyone's right and therefore option to bear arms, when that becomes a mandate as your only means of being safe in this country, that becomes a little scary.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

JR: It essentially started with the Sandy Hook shooting. We have been going at this issue incredibly hard ever since then. At this point, I think the reason that it might be getting a little more attention, although it did garner some attention over the last three years as well, is that people have reached a frustration level because of the seeming perpetual nature of this where it's every day, literally, we're averaging a mass shooting in this country. I think people say, "Well this is clearly a problem." It's the only developed nation in the world where it happens with this prolificacy and so they're saying, "Enough is enough and we need to do something about this other than just pay lip service to it."
Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 cover of the New York Daily News. (nydailynews.com)

HM: You did though lump [the NRA's] LaPierre in with Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, James Holmes. These are mass killers. And also of course, Syed Farook and his wife, the San Bernardino shooters, as a group of terrorists. Knowing now what we do about Farook and his wife, do you still associate them, in the same way you do the others?

JR: Terror takes many different forms. Syed Farook and his wife are radicalized, what we would call traditional terrorists. Dylan Roof, Robert Dear, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, they were also terrorists. They went into public places and they terrorized dozens of people, killing many of them, with weapons that were easily attainable in large part due to the efforts of the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby, which is led by Mr. LaPierre. That is also a form of terrorism in our opinion. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

To hear the full interview please select the Listen audio link above.

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