The Column, No. 111:

"60 Minutes" Runs Out of Time: A Remington Hack-job by Lesley Stahl

By Randy Wakeman

This column is about "The Remington 700" story, which aired on "60 Minutes" on Feb. 19, 2017. Lesley Stahl was the correspondent, Shachar Bar-On the producer and Alexandra Poolos the associate producer.

This was extremely poor (actually intentionally biased) reporting by Lesley Stahl. What correspondent Stahl failed to mention was that no unloaded rifle can load itself, much less point itself at the head of a human being.

It was human intervention that did this, human intervention that came as the result of anger, a fight. Zac Stringer, fifteen years old, loaded his Remington 700 rifle. As he said: "I loaded it. I loaded it with the purpose of scaring him."

Shortly thereafter, he blew his younger brother's head off. It did not stop there, for then Zac retrieved his younger brother Justin's own firearm and placed it between his legs in a clumsy attempt to make it look like suicide.

This is, to any sober person, at the absolute minimum gross negligence. Serving five years in prison for negligence that results in blowing off your younger brother's head is hardly ridiculously harsh. (It could also have been intentional murder, as indicated by the attempted cover-up. -Editor)

Stahl reported, "That rifle is still being held at the local courthouse. A state forensic expert did test it before the trial, but Hal Kittrell, the prosecutor in the case, says he didn't know there had been other instances of the gun going off by itself." Now really, Ms. Stahl should know that guns don't "go off" by themselves, without any human intervention. In addition, if the rifle had anything at all to do with the incident, it is still available for further testing.

Although the rifle is being blamed for this whole sordid incident by "60 Minutes," where is the evidence that this rifle, owned for three years prior to the incident, ever malfunctioned? Did it not seem a wee bit suspicious to anyone at "60 Minutes" that a rifle, which had failed to malfunction in any way for three years, all of a sudden just happened to "malfunction" for the very first time when loaded and pointed at a human head at close range? This must be a first, a rifle that only malfunctions when it is loaded and pointed at your brother's head during a fight.

Common sense should demand that the rifle be tested to see if the mystery discharge could be duplicated, prior to a "60 Minutes" report. What is the excuse for not doing this?

Further, what is the excuse for injecting a "cold weather" element into this report? Was it cold, indoors in Mississippi, when the incident occurred?

The relevant issue, whether the actual rifle used has problems, was completely ignored. This is an example of investigative journalism at its worst, lacking reasonable investigation and journalistic standards.

No responsible journalist could report a story based on a Remington 700 rifle that allegedly malfunctions, for the first and only time, only after being loaded by a young man who then pointed the loaded rifle at the head of his brother during a fight and blew his face off. No responsible news program could run such a story. ("60 Minutes," of course, is not a responsible news program and has a long history of phony anti-gun stories and fake news in general. -Editor)

This botched story represents an astounding level of incompetence at "60 Minutes." It is obvious the rifle in question should have been tested to see if any actual safety issue could be found before running the story.

However, fact-free journalism persists. Six years later, "60 Minutes" and everyone else is either unwilling or unable to find any defect and Lesley Stahl did not even bother to look.

There are serious defects here: the defective minds of Lesley Stahl and the producers of "60 Minutes." They didn't know their story was loaded.

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Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.