CNN ran a segment speculating whether top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was behind a recently released terrorist training video due to her "documented" family "ties to the Muslim Brotherhood." The allegation against Abedin is a disreputable smear that has been previously debunked by senior Republicans and even CNN's own anchors.
On January 2, Donald Trump special counsel Michael Cohen retweeted comments claiming that Clinton and Abedin, who is Muslim, were behind the release of a recruitment video featuring Donald Trump from the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabab. Clinton had previously said during a Democratic debate that ISIS recruiters are "showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam." Cohen retweeted a claim that "Huma put in order 4 video the second Hillary Clinton lied at debate re yet another video."
During the January 3 edition of CNN's New Day Sunday, anchor Victor Blackwell read some of Cohen's retweets and asked CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord, "Is that something that's widespread among supporters that, I guess, you know, assumption or conspiracy theory that this was something that was drummed up by the Clintons?"
Lord responded by claiming that it's been "documented" "from a pretty reputable columnist" that "members of Huma Abedin's family have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood." Blackwell made no effort to refute Lord or correct his claims about Abedin, responding that there's a "reported connection":
BLACKWELL: Is that something that's widespread? I mean, you're a Trump supporter. Is that something that's widespread among supporters that, I guess, you know, assumption or conspiracy theory that this was something that was drummed up by the Clintons?
LORD: Well, I think what he may be referring to, I don't know, but it sounds to me, Andrew McCarthy, who was the prosecutor, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the blind sheik, is now a columnist for National Review. And years ago documented that members of Huma Abedin's family have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. So, perhaps that's what he's suggesting here, that there is a tie, through a tie. I don't know. You'd have to ask him. But I don't think there is anything unusual. This has been out there for quite a long time from a pretty reputable columnist.
Lord added that he wasn't saying "there's a conspiracy here" but there are terrorists who "will take her [Clinton] up on it and just, you know, do as she suggests and put him in a video."
The claim that Abedin is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood through her family has been thoroughly debunked by the media and even Republicans.
Rumor-debunking website Snopes.com wrote that "claims that her late father, her mother and her brother were all 'connected' to Muslim Brotherhood have no factual basis to them." The Atlantic concluded that "from person to person, you kind of have to do a somersault to get from Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the accusations "nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant." Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Abedin "has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the attacks "ridiculous." Fox News contributor and Republican consultant Edward Rollins called the accusations "outrageous," "false," "far-fetched," "extreme and dishonest." He added: "Abedin has been thru every top clearance available and would never have been given her position with any questions of her loyalty to this country."
Two of CNN's leading anchors have also debunked the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory. During a July 2012 program, Anderson Cooper called the evidence against her "questionable at best" and based on "many degrees of separation." That same month, Wolf Blitzer said the accusation is "an outrageous, McCarthy-like charge" and said then-Rep. Michele Bachman -- who promoted the claim -- "does owe Huma -- who I know well -- an apology."
CNN is now pushing that same "outrageous, McCarthy-like charge" due to its employment of Jeffrey Lord. The CNN analyst is a fervent Trump supporter who continually embarrasses the network by pushing inaccuracies and defending misogynistic and anti-Muslim remarks.
CNN has been appreciative of Lord's commentary. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported yesterday that Lord told him "the network recently re-upped Lord's deal, extending him through the end of 2016." Wemple added Lord's deal is one of cable news' "more exotic setups" since the Republican "gets paid, essentially, to say pro-Trump things on air."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly lost what little journalistic credibility he still had in 2015 as journalists, colleagues, and media observers dismantled many of the fabrications he told about his journalism career and in his books. Media Matters looks back at O'Reilly's horrible year.
A House hearing called out witness Newt Gingrich for his shady financial dealings seeking to undermine the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Gingrich, who works as a Fox News contributor and Washington Times columnist, appeared as a witness before a December 16 House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing entitled, "Examining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Mass Data Collection Program." During the hearing, Gingrich attacked the pro-consumer bureau for purportedly being "dictatorial" in its collection of consumer data.
Gingrich has worked as a paid adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a secretive group that is attempting to dismantle the CFPB. Gingrich is also a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition. (Gingrich acknowledged his connections to both groups during the hearing.)
While Gingrich claimed during the hearing that he wasn't trying to be secretive about his anti-CFPB financial connections, that wasn't the case this summer. Gingrich wrote a July 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking the CFPB and promoting the U.S. Consumer Coalition. The op-ed did not disclose any of his financial ties, simply identifying Gingrich as a former House speaker. Following criticism by Media Matters and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, the Journal issued an "amplification" that he is "a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which opposes some policies of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
Mother Jones had previously reported that the staffers at Wise "do double duty at the Consumer Coalition" and "Setting up groups like the Consumer Coalition seems to be a big part of what Wise Public Affairs offers its customers." However, it's difficult to decipher who is funding Gingrich and the campaign against consumer protections. Mother Jones noted that the "group's true funders may never be known. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the Consumer Coalition is permanently exempt from revealing its donors."
That shady funding came into focus during the hearing, when Gingrich was asked by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) about who funds the U.S. Consumer Coalition. Gingrich -- a "US Consumer Coalition Senior Advisor" -- professed to not know anything about the group's funding.
During the hearing, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) cited Media Matters' research and criticized Gingrich for initially failing to disclose during the hearing that he was "a paid adviser to the Wise Public Affairs group."
He noted that it's "very interesting that there seems to be a sort of a stealth campaign that's taking place under the radar, entities that can't be properly identified" that want "to make sure that the CFPB is emasculated and eviscerated if possible. This is unbelievable."
Rep. Green added: "The people of this country are absolutely being fed bad information. Yes, they are intelligent. Yes, they're smart. Yes, they can sift through the sand and find pearls -- pearls of information -- but they can't do it if you're getting bad information. And that's what this is all about, which is why we have put so much emphasis on what has happened with reference to this stealth organization, this mystery organization."
Fortune is reporting that billionaire and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson has purchased The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest paper in the 2016 election battleground state of Nevada.
Adelson would be a troubling owner for the Las Vegas paper. The casino magnate has spent millions supporting right-wing candidates and causes. He has a checkered past when it comes to his business dealings and practices, and he is anti-Muslim and anti-union.
The timing of the purchase would provide Adelson with many opportunities to advance his interests, both politically and personally. The reported purchase gives Adelson the largest newspaper in a crucial state for both the Republican primary and the 2016 general election. The seat held by Sen. Harry Reid will also be up for grabs next year. And the businessman operates "America's largest casino company" in Las Vegas, where the paper is based.
The Israeli publication Haaretz reported last year that Adelson said he doesn't like journalism:
Adelson already owns Israel Hayom, a free Israeli newspaper widely seen as reflecting the positions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is considered close to Adelson, and, more recently, news website NRG and religious newspaper Makor Rishon.
"I don't like journalism," Adelson said, highlighting what he said was the media's insistence on focusing on the empty half of the glass.
CNN's Brian Stelter reported following the Fortune report that Adelson told him last night "I have no personal interest" in the paper and "repeatedly indicated that he is not" the owner and "seemed to be enjoying the guessing game." He added on Twitter, "All signs point to Adelson, and his answers to my questions surprised me."
Here are four reasons why Adelson's reported purchase of The Las Vegas Review-Journal is a cause for concern:
RealClearPolitics reported in October 2014 that Adelson is perhaps "the most coveted man in Republican presidential politics" because of his deep pockets. Adelson, whose net worth is estimated at $24.5 billion, reportedly spent $100 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 (emphasis in original):
The stakes of getting on his good side are enormous. In 2012, Adelson spent $20 million supporting Newt Gingrich, single-handedly keeping him afloat during the primaries and doing great damage to Mitt Romney in the process; then, after Gingrich finally fell, Adelson shelled out $30 million to plump up Romney. All told, Adelson reportedly spent $100 million against Obama in 2012. In 2016, says one prominent Republican operative, "every candidate thinks, I can either be the Gingrich of the cycle, meaning Sheldon could give me oxygen, or I don't want to be on the opposite side of who his Gingrich is this cycle. They want to benefit from Sheldon's largesse or make sure no one else benefits from it."
The Huffington Post reported that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, "spent about $100 million on political causes during the 2014 cycle, according to multiple sources."
Adelson is also a major donor to the financial network organized by industrialists Charles and David Koch, with the Huffington Post reporting that in 2014, "Adelson's donations to Phillips' outfit [Americans for Prosperity] and other Koch-funded organizations accounted for a significant portion -- nearly $30 million -- of this haul, according to two conservatives familiar with the network."
The New York Times recently wrote that for the 2016 Republican primary, Adelson "had been rumored for months to be leaning toward supporting Mr. Rubio, but he is also said to be truly uncertain about what to do."
Tracking Adelson's spending may be a difficult task. The American Prospect's Justin Miller wrote that "Adelson's spending has become less transparent. GOP insiders have said that he's given more and more to prominent dark-money groups rather than to super PACs that must disclose donors."
As Media Matters noted in March 2014, Adelson has a checkered past when it comes to his business dealings:
In 2012, Adelson's corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company's subsidiaries also "came under investigation by Chinese regulators."
Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in "legal fees." (ProPublica reported that "several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns" about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands' Macau casinos.
Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.'s own audit committee ultimately admitted there were "likely violations" of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of "accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement."
Adelson has stated: "You don't have to worry about using the word 'Islamo-fascism' or 'Islamo-terrorist,' when that's what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists."
Reporter Peter Beinart wrote in Haaretz of Adelson's views of Palestinians and Muslims:
Then there's Adelson's view that the Palestinians are an "invented people." Again, flip it around. In 2008, when Tel Aviv University's Shlomo Sand published a book called "The Invention of the Jewish People," he was widely called anti-Semitic. When Adelson says the same about Palestinians, he's a Republican rock star.
This isn't hawkishness. It's hate. Hawks acknowledge that there are divisions among Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, but argue that, at this moment in time, the forces of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic militancy have the upper hand. For Adelson, by contrast, there are no distinctions. All Palestinians and all Muslims are detestable killers. It's just who they are. "There isn't a Palestinian alive who wasn't raised on a curriculum of hatred and hostility toward the Jews," he told the Jewish Press in 2011. "They don't want the Jews or any other religion to be alive," he said in the same interview. "The Muslims...want to kill 100 percent of the Jews," he explained last fall. "Not all Islamists are terrorists but all the terrorists are Islamists," he opined in 2012.
Historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone that Adelson is devoted "to crushing labor unions to dust ... Adelson's anti-union mania (I would argue) is the most important thing to know about him. For it reveals just how crazy, and how unscrupulous, the man is." Perlstein wrote of one battle Adelson had with union workers:
In 1999, Adelson closed one casino, the Sands, and completed work on a new one, the Venetian, stiffing so many contractors that there were at one time 366 liens against the property. Taylor, of the Culinary Workers, said he and his colleagues presumed that "like every other casino that had done that, workers in the [closed] hotel would be given priority when the [new] hotel was built." Instead, Adelson refused even to talk. All this, in a union town like Vegas, was unprecedented. "Even when you're having battles, you continue to have talks. Shit, we're talking to the North Koreans right now!" he told me. "The Israelis talk to the Arabs. Talking doesn't necessarily solve anything, but at least you understand the other guy's position." Adelson, not much interested in understanding the other guy's position, proceeded to launch a campaign against the Culinary Workers that Taylor calls "beyond aggressive."
Right before the grand opening of the Venetian, in 1999, the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front. Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: "I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn't move they'd have to put me under 'citizen's arrest.' I ignored them." The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.
A Wall Street Journal profile stated that Adelson views legislation supported by unions as one of the "fundamental threats to society" (alongside "radical Islam"):
Mr. Adelson views radical Islam, he says, as "one of the two fundamental threats to society" -- a view promoted by his Adelson Center for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem. (The other big threat, he says, is a union-promoted measure to curtail the use of secret ballots in union-organizing elections.)
Several Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to participate in an event hosted by anti-Muslim extremist Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney's Center For Security Policy will host a December 14 summit in Nevada covering topics including "Border Insecurity and Illegal Immigration" and "The Threat from Iran, Shariah and The Global Jihad Movement." The group states that Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum are confirmed to be participating in the event.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called Gaffney, who is also a radio host and Washington Times columnist, "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes" because he is gripped "by paranoid fantasies about Muslims," including that Muslim Brotherhood agents have infiltrated the upper echelons of the federal government. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently cited a misleading poll from the Center for Security Policy in attempting to justify his proposal "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." (Trump is listed as having been invited to the conference, but is not a confirmed attendee.)
Despite Gaffney's disreputable background, Republican members of Congress regularly appear on his radio program. Republican presidential candidates like Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Trump have addressed previous Gaffney-sponsored events in person or through video.
The Huffington Post reported that "Fiorina's campaign attempted to distance her from the conference. 'Carly isn't a speaker at this event,' said Anna Epstein, a spokeswoman for Fiorina. 'We're submitting a video and we submit videos to lots of groups that request them.'"
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted that the conference will feature other anti-immigration activists:
Other anti-Muslim activists slated for CSP's event next week include Ann Corcoran, the face of the anti-refugee movement in America. In 2007, she founded the blog Refugee Resettlement Watch (RRW) in response to what she saw as a "grievous error" by the government in taking in Muslim refugees. In the years since, racist groups have increasingly adopted her as one of their own. In 2014, Corcoran promoted an article on Taylor's American Renaissance website calling it a "good commentary" on immigration to Australia. In April, CSP published her "Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America." The 78-page screed calls for Americans to oppose the opening of mosques in their neighborhoods and also calls for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Corcoran spoke at Gaffney's Iowa and South Carolina summits earlier this year.
Another speaker will be Rosemary Jenks, a staffer with NumbersUSA, the largest grassroots anti-immigrant group in the U.S. NumbersUSA and its founder Roy Beck have a long track record of working white nationalists to advance their anti-immigrant agenda. On Gaffney's Secure Freedom Radio show in February, Jenks stated, "We know that they are placing terrorists into the refugee camps and we don't have the means to vet them...The FBI says they're very concerned about this, the potential dangers of resettling these folks in the United States because we have no idea who they are." At a Gaffney event in 2014 she equated gun violence and bank robbery to immigration violations, stating, "If you rob a bank, you're going to jail. Break into a house, you're going to jail. Shoot someone, you're going to jail, and everybody's guns will be taken away." She added, "But if you break an immigration law, we're going to let you stay, give you a work permit, and we're going to call it a day."
The summit will also feature former presidential candidate Herman Cain and Fox News contributor John Bolton.
During an appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' program, Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Donald Trump's "totally reasonable and rational" anti-Muslim immigration plan and said the media's criticism of it makes him want to donate to Trump's campaign. Carlson also complained that people overlook all the "bad and really troubling" things non-European immigrants have done to the country.
Carlson, who is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, appeared on the December 9 edition of The Alex Jones Show to discuss Trump's candidacy and the controversy over his plan "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Jones is a leading conspiracy theorist who believes the government was behind 9/11 and several other catastrophes. Trump recently appeared on Jones' program and praised Jones and his "amazing" reputation.
Carlson began by complaining that "the worst thing about Trump is the media reaction to him, which is so hyperventilating and self-righteous. It's merely an excuse for reporters to explain that they're morally superior to Donald Trump ... it's disgusting." Carlson continued that watching negative coverage of Trump makes him "feel like sending him money":
CARLSON: There are things about Trump that I don't agree with, and there are certainly things about his rhetoric that I think ought to be more precise, that he ought to explain better. But none of that really compares in emotional impact to the feeling I get watching the press whine about him and declare him dangerous. Every time I hear that I feel like sending him money.
JONES: I agree with you.
Carlson defended Trump's proposal for a ban on Muslim immigration as a "totally reasonable and rational conclusion to reach" because "we don't want to be Sweden or Belgium or France":
Carlson proceeded to attack non-European immigration to the country. While he said we "pretend it's all good because we get better restaurants and cheap servants," immigrants in recent decades have "made the country less cohesive and more divided," hurt the education system and economy, and become Democrats:
CARLSON: They get away with it politically because they change the composition of the electorate over time. That's exactly, as you know, what's happened since 1965 when immigration law changed to favor people from outside of Europe. And there are probably some good things about that -- there are also some bad things about it, which we never mention. We lie about it and pretend it's all good because we get better restaurants and cheap servants, but the truth is it was a massive boon for the Democratic Party because the overwhelming majority of those immigrants in the last 50 years have become Democrats and stayed Democrats. But it has made the country less cohesive and more divided, and there have been all kinds of other unattractive effects of it. It's affected our education system, it's affected our economy in ways that are bad and really troubling over the long term.
Jones also compared Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton, to a hippo, which elicited laughs from Carlson. Jones suggested Abedin was in a same-sex relationship with Clinton. Carlson responded by attacking Abedin as being divisive and irresponsible for her recent criticisms of Trump.
Carlson is a repeat guest on The Alex Jones Show. He previously suggested the Obama administration is engaging in "Nazi stuff" by using ethnic politics, and wants to confiscate all the country's firearms and put people "in jail for even having them."
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes praised Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslim immigration to the United States as "rather prudent" and better than having Muslims "blow something up over here."
Trump sparked widespread condemnation after announcing he "is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
In a December 8 Facebook post, Starnes lashed out at critics of Trump's anti-Muslim plan, writing that "a good many folks across the fruited plain support Mr. Trump's plan" and it's "not all that outrageous. It's rather prudent":
But a good many folks across the fruited plain support Mr. Trump's plan. Folks want to do whatever it takes to protect their families from the jihadists.
If you move beyond the toxic politics - what Mr. Trump is suggesting is not all that outrageous. It's rather prudent.
What's wrong with temporarily suspending Muslim immigration from countries harboring Islamic radicals?
Would it not be better to vet them over there - before they blow something up over here?
Unfortunately -- these days politics trumps common sense.
I want you to remember one cold hard reality -- Donald Trump is the product of a leadership vacuum in the Republican Party. So if you want to blame somebody for Mr. Trump's candidacy -- you can blame Establishment Republicans.
Starnes is the perfect audience for Trump's proposal since the right-wing pundit is virulently anti-Muslim. He's suggested the French are at fault for the Paris attacks because they allowed Muslim immigration; said a Muslim should never be president; criticized people who say Islam is "a peaceful religion"; and responded to a question about whether he's anti-Muslim by saying he'll "fellowship with anybody that doesn't want to blow me to smithereens." (Starnes has repeatedly said Muslims want to blow people up.)
Several white nationalist pundits are praising Donald Trump's plan "calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." They've called Trump's proposal "so wonderful" and "100% reasonable" because Muslims purportedly provide "absolutely nothing of value to this once-great nation." They've also praised the Republican frontrunner as "indispensible" and the "ultimate savior."
Fox News host Chris Wallace agreed to a conservative radio host's request to not use the term "assault weapon" on Fox News Sunday because it upsets gun advocates.
Wallace guested on the December 3 edition of KFTK's Allman in the Morning to discuss the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. NBC News reported that "Two .223-caliber assault-style rifles -- a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 and a DPMS model -- were recovered after the police shootout, police said. The two suspects also had two 9mm semiautomatic handguns, police said."
During the appearance, St. Louis-based radio host Jamie Allman said "it agitates people ... like me and my listeners, who are gun owners" that the media uses the term "assault weapon." He added that "people who are gun owners never call -- that's not any official name of any weapon out there -- an 'assault weapon.'"
Conservative media have frequently claimed "assault weapon" is used by anti-gun advocates to mislead the public, even though the term was originally coined by the gun industry.
Wallace responded that "if that's something that ticks people off because it's so imprecise, and such a kind of cover word that means nothing, I don't want to do that." He then pledged, "You will not hear the word assault weapon out of my mouth on Sunday. I may fall back into it later, but on Sunday I will be more precise":
WALLACE: Thank you for the information, because if that's something that ticks people off because it's so imprecise, and such a kind of cover word that means nothing, I don't want to do that.
ALLMAN: Yeah it's almost like it's an -- and again, I'm not accusing you of this. It's almost like an editorial description of a gun. And that's all I'm saying is that it drives a lot of us crazy when we hear assault weapon because --
WALLACE: I don't want you to be driven crazy.
ALLMAN: No, I'm just saying if I can have an impact on a premier journalist like yourself, then I think I've made some headway.
WALLACE: Well, OK, no, listen.
ALLMAN: And we all fall into that.
WALLACE: You will not hear the word assault weapon out of my mouth on Sunday. I may fall back into it later, but on Sunday I will be more precise.
ALLMAN: That's good, OK.
Wallace and Allman then moved into a discussion about gun laws, with Wallace disagreeing that the country "would be safer if every place you went ... everybody was packing" and said there may need to be more "restrictions" about who should own a gun.
While Allman claims "gun owners never" use the term assault weapons, the term actually came into being because that's what the gun manufacturers and gun enthusiasts called them, as Media Matters documented in an analysis of the history of the term:
Conservatives in media have adopted the false National Rifle Association claim that the term "assault weapon" was invented by proponents of assault weapons bans in order to arbitrarily single out certain firearms for further regulation. However, before the gun industry trade association attempted to rebrand assault weapons as "modern sporting rifles" in 2009 -- a change in terminology also adopted by the NRA -- the gun industry and firearm publications routinely used the term assault weapon to describe the very military-style semi-automatic rifles that would be covered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban.
The truth is that military-style semi-automatic rifles were called assault weapons because that is what gun manufacturers and gun enthusiasts called them. The term has played a key role in the ongoing effort of the gun industry to rebrand and market military-style weaponry to civilians. Now, as legislation supported by a majority of Americans has been proposed to ban these weapons, the NRA and its gun industry and media allies are using semantics and terminology arguments to downplay the dangers of a class of weapons often associated with horrific mass shootings and law enforcement killings.
While conservatives claim the term is imprecise, since at least the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, an assault weapon is widely understood to be a military-style semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine.
Troy Newman, one of the anti-choice extremists behind the deceptive videos targeting Planned Parenthood, believes that the recent shooting at the organization's Colorado Springs facility "is exactly what they've been hoping for" because it makes them "the victims" instead of "the victimizers."
Newman is the president of Operation Rescue and a board member for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which has been releasing videos smearing Planned Parenthood and accusing them of illegal behavior. Multiple investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of illegal activity.
The alleged perpetrator of the deadly Colorado Springs shooting reportedly said "no more baby parts" after his arrest. As The Washington Post noted, the line "would appear to be a reference to recent controversy over Planned Parenthood's handling of fetal tissue. In July, the Center for Medical Progress released a video showing Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical research discussing the preservation of fetal hearts, lungs and livers for use in research."
On November 27, Newman released a statement saying that "Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics."
Newman has a long history of incendiary remarks that include "praising the killing of abortion doctors and calling women who have abortions 'murderers.'" He has tried to "shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently accepted Newman's endorsement for president, calling him "a driving force in the recent effort to expose Planned Parenthood's alleged sale of baby parts in a series of undercover videos."
During a November 30 interview on The Drew Mariani Show, Newman claimed that Planned Parenthood was thankful for the deadly attack because the group can now portray itself as "the victims."
When asked by Mariani if the shooting is "helpful to Planned Parenthood," Newman replied: "Planned Parenthood, you know, desperately needs something to save their bacon from being defunded and thrown in jail, the multiple investigations in Congress, etcetera. They need something to deflect and this is exactly what they've been hoping for. Something to deflect the attention away from them as being the victimizers and back on to being the victims, that's where they like to be, is to be the poor victim."
He also dismissed arguments that CMP's videos influenced the shooter's thinking, claiming: "So if, and I'm saying a big if -- if there is a heightened awareness of the gruesomeness of abortion, it's not our rhetoric. It's the abortionists themselves that have been uncovered and shown to be who they are. And if people are disgusted by it, it's because we've caught the abortionists telling the truth."
From the November 30 edition of Relevant Radio's The Drew Mariani Show:
DREW MARIANI: But since the videos began airing, this article contended that threats against abortion clinics nationwide have spiked. Now I've never heard that before, I've never seen that anywhere. I don't know where the empirical evidence or data for that is. Since your films began, has there been violence against these clinics and, you know, is there any connection between what has been brought to the national, to the nation in this incident?
NEWMAN: Well, I love the question. Actually, I love the premise of the question because I've been asked it so many times by far-left wing reporters over the past weekend. And I say the question is essentially is my rhetoric in the videos causing violence because we're talking about babies being murdered, and their body parts sold. And so I spin the question back on these reporters and I said, 'Listen, what is in the videos? Have you watched them? ' In fact, there's no commentary by pro-lifers pointing something out saying, 'this is murder.' No, the videos, all eleven of them, show abortionists speaking more like pro-lifers than pro-lifers do. They're the ones haggling over baby body parts. They're the ones describing the dismembering of innocent children. They're the ones who are discussing that they want a Lamborghini in exchange for, you know, these body parts. They're the ones talking about the gruesome nature of the abortion procedure and how they change it to put their profit margin ahead of women's health.
So if, and I'm saying a big if -- if there is a heightened awareness of the gruesomeness of abortion, it's not our rhetoric. It's the abortionists themselves that have been uncovered and shown to be who they are. And if people are disgusted by it, it's because we've caught the abortionists telling the truth.
MARIANI: Is this event helpful to Planned Parenthood? I mean it's horrible when you see the loss of life but in terms of, I don't know, kind of taking the fire from their feet, so to speak, does this in some respects, I don't -- take some heat off of them? You know what I'm saying?
NEWMAN: Well, look, they're already fundraising off of it. They're already attempting to deflect and make us the murderers and not them. I took a picture of a screenshot over the weekend where it said Planned Parenthood has been declared a crime scene. Well every single abortion clinic should be declared a crime scene.
NEWMAN: These people are selling baby body parts for a profit. They're committing many, multiple felonies and there's prima facie evidence in our videos to prove that what we need is prosecutions.
But Planned Parenthood, you know, desperately needs something to save their bacon from being defunded and thrown in jail, the multiple investigations in Congress, etcetera. They need something to deflect and this is exactly what they've been hoping for. Something to deflect the attention away from them as being the victimizers and back on to being the victims, that's where they like to be, is to be the poor victim. 'Just health care officials just trying to provide health care for women' and the radical, anti-choice extremists, or misogynist pigs like me are the ones trying to hurt them.
MARIANI: Well bottom line it's a tragedy to see this unfold --
MARIANIA. -- and happen. I want to commend you though on your work and your vigilance. You know you're going to come under attack for exposing this type of evil.