A couple of weeks ago, a reporter for the Free Press brought the snide to his reaction to a Walmart circular offering AR-15 type rifles. In a few short paragraphs, R.L. Nave managed to refer to them as “automatic weapoms” (he, perhaps prodded by those famous editors, later made an ill-tempered correction), “assault rifles” and “machine guns” in a few hundred words. (The other errors went uncorrected. Here’s his whole piece:
Thanks to the economic downturn, it’s a buyer’s market for a lot of products: houses are cheap, food is relatively inexpensive (although experts are predicting a bacon shortage of apocalyptic proportions) and now, at Jackson-area Walmart stores, you can even get a pretty good deal on a weapon that shoots bullets faster than I can gobble down bacon, which is pretty damn fast.
Over the weekend, Walmart ran an ad in the Clarion-Ledger advertising deals on shotguns, rifles and MSRs. It’s possible that the world’s largest corporation understands that global chaos could ensue when bacon reserves dry up.
Anarchy is generally good for the gun business.
According to the ad, one might procure one of these MSRs — modern sporting rifle more commonly known as an assault rifle — for as little as $597 and as much $1,097 for a .223-caliber Colt M4 Rifle. If you’re smart, you don’t go cheap because when the bacon-takers come — and, believe me, they will come — you want a reliable weapon to protect your family’s salted meats.
At the same time, you don’t want to spend too much just to be sure you can afford to stock up on enough ammo to fend off the imminent roving hoards of pork-looters. To that end, there’s a mid-level machine gun, a Sig Sauer M400 SRP with Prismatic Scope can be had for just $897 and, according to the ad, is available only at Walmart.
Only at Walmart indeed.
(The snide correction: “Update: I deferred to the expertise of the firearmphiles and removed a reference to automatic weapons. Again, the gun people win.”)
Yep, we do, newshound. (For one thing, while we’re punctiliously polite about this point, we do have all the guns). And the reporters like you lose. Again. How’s your circulation? (Not your own sluggishly-moving blood, toxic with caffiene and cannabis, about which no one cares, but your paper’s ABC circulation). Down, isn’t it? Oh, dear. Permit us to concern-troll you on that point.
Geniuses like Nave can’t make the connection between bias and layoffs, but if you graph the two, the correlation’s pretty explicit. (Point the arrow of causation any way for which you can adduce evidence). And given the pressure technology and market consolidation has put on print advertising, the business which pays for all those ink-stained hippies who ankle-bite business, alienating readers is probably an unwise growth strategy. And the increasing part of America that is not buying their product, doesn’t seem to miss it.
And get this: If the Free Press was in Berkeley, CA, Cambridge, MA, or Madison, WI, Nave would be in his element (a Boyle’s-Law-defying concentration of anti-gun crazy). But it’s the Jackson Freaking Mississippi Free Press.
If you sell a newspaper to every Mayor Bloomberg fan, college professor, performance artist, and pierced-lip Starbucks barista in Jackson, how long can you run the presses?