Just a day after Donald Trump criticized his normally compliant cheerleaders at Fox News, saying “there’s something going on at Fox, and I’m not happy about it,” one of the few anchors at the cable news network willing to call the president out on his bad behavior — Shep Smith — mocked Trump for his sudden reversal on enacting universal background checks so soon after the deadly mass shootings in Texas, California, and Ohio.
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“The message has, again, changed,” Smith said today. “Remember calls escalated after the domestic terror attack in El Paso and the mass murder that followed in Dayton. The president said at the time, ‘We need strong background checks.’ Now, something new. First, listen to him yesterday.”
Smith then played footage of Trump speaking to reporters and repeating typical NRA talking points:
“People don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now,” Trump said. “If you go in and buy a gun, you have to sign up. There are a lot of background checks that have been approved over the years. So I’ll have to see what it is,” he deferred while raising the “big mental problem” in America.
With no highly-publicized mass shooting in the United States in the last few days, so naturally, Trump felt safe that not many people would notice his walk-back of the promise to support the closing of loopholes to ensure that every prospective gun purchaser undergoes a thorough background check.
Shep Smith contrasted Trump’s Sunday walk back with the president’s comments immediately after the shootings.
“That’s new,” Smith said. “We already have strong background checks. So, he was right. We need them. But now, we already have them. That is a new wrinkle in the history of ‘no change.’ Listen to what he said days after the shooting in El Paso and Dayton.”
“We have tremendous support for really common sense, sensible, important background checks,” Trump said, while also boasting that there was no president who supports guns more than him, yet that he also supoorts “meaningful background checks so that sick people don’t get guns.”
Smith went on to speculate on the reason for Trump’s sudden change of heart in a way that most of Fox’s sycophantic hosts wouldn’t dare to try.
“So after first saying, we need strong background checks, now the president says we already have them,” Smith pointed out. “Remember, after the slaughter of innocent children at Parkland in Florida, it was: mass shooting happens, calls for change erupt, President Trump says we need change, phone call from the NRA, then nothing happens. But in this case, a new step along the step for saneless,” Smith said before involving White House Correspondent John Roberts in the conversation.
“John, massacre, demands for strong background checks, NRA phone call, nothing happens. But this time, there’s a new reason: We already have strong background checks.”
Roberts replied that at least Trump’s latest retreat was still a step forward from earlier this year when he said the president said that if stronger background checks passed the Senate, he likely would veto the bill, a signal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to not even bother bringing legislation up for a vote.
“We’ll see what happens,” Roberts said in concluding his comments.
“We will indeed,” Smith said.
For most of us, there’s no need to wait to see whether the Senate will take up the already passed House legislation that McConnell has blocked to date. We can assume that Republicans under the thumb of the NRA will do everything in their power to prevent the passage of new gun restrictions or at least water down any bill that is considered.
Thus, it is imperative that all of us take the time to call our elected representatives to insist that they pass strong legislation to enact universal background checks, ban high capacity magazines for ammunition, and restore the automatic weapons ban that helped prevent mass shootings when it was passed in the Clinton administration.
Without enormous continued public pressure, don’t expect anything to change.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Sarah K. Burris at RawStory.