Advocacy journalism pushed banks to anti-gun policies

· April 19, 2018  
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Gun in case with lock
Nic Neufeld | Shutterstock

The left-wing agenda media is playing a leading advocacy role in getting banks to wage a war against the Second Amendment.

The decision by Bank of America not to lend money to gun makers that manufacture certain types of “military-style firearms for civilian use” and Citigroup Inc.’s call to prevent retail outlets from selling bump stocks or guns to individuals under 21 are linked to advocacy journalism. The origin of the banks’ new anti-gun wave is not an anti-Second Amendment group but a New York Times business writer and co-host of CNBC’s morning program “Squawk Box.”

In a February 19 New York Times DealBook column, “How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won’t,” Andrew Ross Sorkin outlines the strategy to restrict sales of guns by choking off banking services for the purchase of firearms. Sorkin cites Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as the philosophical underpinning of his advocacy. Under the tenets of CSR, corporations are held accountable for their impact on society in addition to financial metrics. Leveraging the “moral responsibility” of corporations, Sorkin urges banks to follow policies at PayPal and Apple Pay, which do not let customers use their services to purchase guns.

Sorkin’s advocacy journalism was magnified by CNBC, where he advertised his commentary on “Squawk Box,” and by MSNBC. During the MSNBC interview, Sorkin made it clear that his goal is to restrict sales of certain types of guns and equipment by making it harder and more expensive because “you’ve done a disservice if you’re not trying.” Sorkin also mentioned he discussed his idea with bank CEOs in confidential interviews.

Shortly after Sorkin’s commentary and phone calls to CEOs, Bank of America sent a statement to CNBC saying the company was going to be talking with its gun clients, “… to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.” Following Sorkin’s advocacy media blitz, a March 7 Bloomberg story, “Wells Fargo Is the Go-To Bank for Gunmakers and the NRA,” highlighted that bank’s gun business.

The story amounted to waving a red flag in front of the anti-gun advocacy bulls, and it didn’t take long for Wells Fargo and other financial institutions to become targets of gun control advocates. The American Federation of Teachers jumped on the anti-gun bandwagon by threatening to pull Wells Fargo mortgages from the union’s benefits program. Yes: The union is using its pension fund and benefit program to push its anti-gun agenda.

In a letter from AFT President Randi Weingarten to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, the union head urged the bank to follow other companies that are creating policies to impact sales of “military-style assault weapons.” Predictably, Weingarten’s letter includes the information conveniently provided by the Bloomberg “news” story about Wells Fargo’s business dealings with gun manufacturers and the NRA. Weingarten closed her letter with a threat saying the union will eliminate Wells Fargo mortgages from its benefits package if the bank does not address her concerns. About 20,000 AFT union members have mortgages from Wells Fargo.

So far, Wells Fargo is standing up to the anti-gun bullying. In his response to Weingarten, CEO Sloan said, “… I do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.”

During its first-quarter earnings conference call, the company’s chief financial officer reiterated Sloan’s position that the gun issue requires a legislative solution.

Thankfully, some in Congress are challenging the Second Amendment banking free-for-all. Some Republicans are pushing back against Citibank’s new anti-gun policy. The lawmakers asked the General Services Administration to pull a $700 billion Citibank government contract for a federal charge card program called Smartpay3 because of the bank’s “anti-Second Amendment policies.”

In addition, Senator John Kennedy, R-La., slammed Citigroup in a letter to the bank’s CEO, Michael Corbat, over its gun policy. Kennedy objected to the bank’s effort to restrict gun sales through restricting banking services, and he reminded the company of the federal government bailout it received during the financial crisis a decade ago.

The importance of advocacy journalism can’t be underestimated. It’s deeply disturbing that a single left-wing business writer and TV host can threaten our liberty by lobbying CEOs through interviews and anti-gun activists.


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Author: Dr. Tom Borelli

Dr. Tom Borelli is a contributor to Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @tomborelli.