On April 10, 2009 ABC aired an episode of 20/20 entitled “If I had a gun,” hosted by Diane Sawyer.
The program was a contemptible example of advocacy journalism. Despite unimpeachable research by academics such as Professors Gary Kleck and John Lott proving firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens save countless lives every year, the main thrust of the 20/20 episode was that private citizens are incompetent in the use of firearms under stress, and that privately-owned firearms pose a far greater threat to their owners and family members than they do to criminals.
Every television station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to maintain a file of letters called a Public Comment file. Letters of praise as well as letters of complaint must be retained in that file for review by the FCC when the station’s broadcast license is up for renewal. As a result, stations tend to take these letters seriously, especially the complaints.
Write a short letter, no more than two or three paragraphs, voicing a complaint about the obvious bias of the 20/20 broadcast. Address the letter to 20/20 News Director, ABCNews, 7 WEST 66th Street, New York, NY 10023. A copy should also be sent to your local ABC affiliate.
Add a request at the bottom to keep this letter on file in the station’s Public Comment file. They’re supposed to anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to make the point. While you’re at it, give a copy of your letter to a couple of friends or shooting buddies and ask them to send it in as well. The result is a win-win situation for gun owners, for the station and for the public at large.
The FCC accepts electronic submission of complaints via the Electronic Comment Filing System. A copy of your complaint should be sent to the FCC as well. You can access the Electronic Comment Filing System at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/