Friday, January 11, 2013


We take a moment to correct two recent mistakes.

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [8]

Christopher from Illinois

I have to call male bovine fecal matter on this one. This is the equivalent of using the term "automatic transmission" to describe a stick-shift and then claiming the average mechanic does the same thing.

Jan. 17 2013 11:47 AM
Larry Cote from Menomonee Falls, WI

Bob: Hey, your doubling down on the incorrect use of the words "automatic" and "semi-automatic" in the story reminds me of the selective use of facts in a FOX News broadcast; not what I expect to hear on NPR. You also dig your hole deeper by claiming, without citation, that experts in the field often use these terms interchangeably. That's pure flummery and I think you know it. I am not a gun nut or right winger for that matter, but I can't and don't accept your explanation. Do the right thing and admit you made a mistake and move on; it will go a long way to restoring your credibility. Thanks for listening.

Jan. 16 2013 05:09 PM
Leo from West Michigan

Are you sure you aren't confusing "semi-automatic" and "selective fire" this time? As a bunch of other people have already browbeaten you over, there is no reason why someone who actually knows what they're talking about wound consider "fully automatic" and "semi-automatic" to be interchangeable. I can, however, understand why such a person would conflate "fully automatic" and "selective fire" -- in both cases, you get multiple rounds fired with a single press of the trigger, which is by definition not what happpens with a semi-automatic firearm.

Jan. 14 2013 10:15 PM
Sean from California

Both Professor Richard Wolff, and President Obama are often described as communists, but only one is. Saying that the weapon Adam Lanza stole from his mother was an automatic all but says outright that Nancy Lanza was committing a felony. A reporter is responsible for knowing the exact meanings, and possible influence of the words they use in a report.

I know that it can be difficult to do stories that cover areas like guns. No matter what you say somebody will be unhappy. And sure as heck it's not me that is on the verbal hot-seat every week. Don't worry, I will listen to next week's show, as I do every week.

Jan. 13 2013 01:16 AM
Dan from MI

The error, confusing automatic and semi-automatic weapons, is galling to the ears of those who actually know the difference. Unfortunately, it is also an error that portends a possible bias--and sounds ignorant. I can't say that I'm "in the weapons trade" but an automatic weapon is illegal to buy or own in most states and requires payment of a special tax to (and essentially registration with) the the federal government.

Jan. 12 2013 08:30 AM
Adam from NY

'automatic' and 'semi-automatic' are often used by experts interchangeably." -- Bob Garfield
I am a range safety officer and a federal firearms instructor for the US air marshals. I will not speak to why you made said assumptions or what motives you have in doing so, But I can tell you that 'Automatic' and 'semi-automatic' are in no way interchangeable.

Jan. 11 2013 11:00 PM
Joel from WI

This was linked to me from a friend. I am NOT a Liberal. I also think that you are wrong in your assumption that the terms "automatic" and "semi-automatic" are NOT used interchangeably. If you were to hear military or law enforcement officers report automatic weapons fire, it would be just that, AUTOMATIC weapons fire.

I believe that you are using that term to scare people into following your agenda. This kind of fear-mongering is the worst. To deceive people in this way is despicable.

You suck ass.

Jan. 11 2013 09:43 PM
Matt from NJ

"In an interview we did last month with news anchor Bill Ritter about the ethics of interviewing children who've witnessed a tragedy, several listeners wrote in to correct my use of the term 'automatic weapon fire' in the Sandy Hook massacre. Actually according to police, the popping sounds I referred to came from a semi-automatic weapon. However I stand by my characterization; in the weapons trade, the terms 'automatic' and 'semi-automatic' are often used by experts interchangeably." -- Bob Garfield

That is the biggest lie I have heard on this broadcast. I am a LIBERAL, and a loyal listener for more than 4 years. I am not stupid and I realize NPR and it's affiliate shows have a liberal bias -- an most times I LIKE the liberal bias because it corresponds more accurate to the facts. But in this case, what Bob Garfield just did was lie to support his own opinion that semi-automatic weapons are just as bad as automatic weapons.

Experts DO NOT use the terms interchangeably. Automatic weapons are illegal and have been illegal since 1986. If a gun expert used the term automatic weapon to describe a semi-automatic weapon, it would raise everyone's eyebrows in the room!

That's like saying airplane experts often use the terms 'jet' and 'prop-plane' interchangeably. They are two completely different categories of weapons and just because Bob Garfield, a layman, might not know (or care about) the difference, doesn't mean he should lie and tell his audience there is no meaningful difference.

What you're doing is so obvious. You wish to conflate the ideas of these two types of guns in the minds of your viewers. By equating semi-automatic guns to automatic guns, people who don't know any better will believe that semi-automatic guns are just as dangerous and wonder why they're not already banned along with the automatic ones. This is the very definition of lying to promote your own agenda. It's not truthful and it's despicable reporting.

Jan. 11 2013 09:19 PM

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