Today show slammed for gun segment
THE Today Show has defended itself after an interview with a survivor from the Columbine High School shootings "backfired" and went horribly wrong.
Worse, Weekend Today host Allison Langdon referred to survivor Evan Todd as "Eric" twice in the interview. Eric Harris was one of the two shooters of the Columbine attacks who approached Evan during the library massacre alongside Dylan Klebold, who forced Evan to beg for his life.
News.com.au recently spoke to Evan over his controversial views that teachers in schools should be armed.
Thirteen people didn't make it out of Columbine High School alive that day, and after years of deliberating, Mr Todd has come to the conclusion that teachers should be allowed to carry guns in school as a preventive measure.
"I did have a period after Columbine where I greatly questioned whether guns were the problem. I really truly wanted to find some kind of answer to what happened, some kind of way to help prevent it," he told news.com.au earlier this month.
"I looked at all the angles and I guess I don't think guns are the issue. I look at my upbringing, all my friends, we had more access to guns than Eric and Dylan (Klebold) and we didn't murder any body. They didn't have any guns in their homes whereas I was raised with guns."
Evan doesn't believe teachers should be forced to carry a gun, but if they already carry a concealed-weapons permit, why not use the opportunity to use it in a school shooting scenario?
As the anniversary approached on Saturday, Evan was asked to appear on the Today Show from his home in Denver, Colorado, to engage in a lively discussion over his views and experience.
But instead, hosts Langdon and Peter Stefanovic have been accused of insensitivity as Australian viewers apologies to Mr Todd for the awkward segment, with Langdon referring to Evan as "Eric" twice in the interview to a visibly shocked interview subject.
Meanwhile, The Today Show today defended accusations from viewers the show had cut the segment's conversation over gun laws on social media from a nine-minute interview on air to just one-minute on social media.
"What a disgraceful effort Today Show! Evan Todd survived the horror of Columbine and has had to live with it every day of his life since, not only were you incredibly rude to him during the interview when you realised it wasn't going the way you had planned, but to only post a tiny cherry-picked snippet in order to spin it in your favour is shameful journalism," posted Sue Hammond.
"You invited him onto your show, you specifically asked him to share his thoughts and opinions, and when those thoughts and opinions didn't match yours, you interrupted him, talked over him, cut him off and eventually shut the interview down."
The Today Show told news.com.au: "It's standard for all social media clips on Today's Facebook page to sit around 60 seconds, mainly beginning from the introduction of the guest. "There was no directive or discussion to cut Evan's grab about guns."
The segment turned when Langdon questioned Mr Todd over the student-led anti-gun movement, March For Your Lives, in the United States.
"It's not a movement that I stand behind or support, I question whether it's being run by students because I've been doing this for 19 years trying to get the message out that the heart and the soul is the real issue here, not guns," Evan said on the program.
"I know how hard it is to organise a movement, there's a lot of money and a lot of people helping them and it's frustrating to see that they're going after a political point."
Langdon interrupts Evan: "But you can't deny that the anger of these students is real Eric?"
"I don't doubt their anger is real ..." Evan replied.
"This is what they were raised (to be); how to react to a situation like this. I don't discount their anger or sadness or what they went through, because I know what they went through. I discount their position and their ideology."
The interview didn't get any better after Evan suggested that America repeal the Gun Free Zone Act and allow teachers to carry guns on campus.
"They're not disarmed when they go to the grocery store. They're not disarmed when they go to Church. But when they go to school they have to disarm themselves ..."
Langdon interrupts Evan again and questions if this is the world he would want his three-month-old son growing up in.
"I wouldn't ask a teacher who wasn't comfortable to carry," Evan replied, referring to his view that if a teacher already carries a concealed-weapons permit, why not use the opportunity to use it in a school shooting scenario?
After a statement by Stefanovic that there "are too many guns out there" and that research has shown more guns equals more violence, Langdon cuts Evan off again after he claimed America had seen a similar reduction in crime rates despite doubling gun ownership in the United States.
"Evan, I think we have to agree to disagree," said Langdon, before wrapping the interview up.
Evan's Facebook post has since received more than 300 shares and he says he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyday Australians apologising for the interview.
"Saw this this morning live Evan ... I 100 per cent agree with everything you said mate. "Please be assured that not all of us Aussies are the pack of w**kers that you come across this morning that feel the need to sanctimoniously lecture Americans on firearm laws," posted Daniel Sutcliffe.
Bradley Youngberry wrote: "Sir you are awesome. All you've been through to present yourself calm and to the point while being over ruled and badgered by two presenters who had no want to listen to someone wanting a calm discussion over a topic that's affects you personally. They only wanted to push their agenda. I tip my hat to you."
Evan escaped with his life during the Columbine High School shooting, but he still doesn't know why. Find out more about his story here.