Fox News' Special Report helped GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reframe the reproductive choice debate by misleadingly hyping a poll that found that a majority of Americans support a legal ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. But abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are extremely rare and studies show a majority of Americans continue to support access to abortions in cases of rape, incest, and various other health care reasons.
According to Politico, on April 8, Sen. Paul "refused to tell The Associated Press whether he would support exceptions for abortions in instances of rape or incest or if the birth of a child would risk the mother's life." Later that day, Paul told journalists in New Hampshire, "Why don't we ask the DNC" whether it is "OK to kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus."
Paul's comment was lauded by right-wing media, and on the April 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report host Bret Baier and correspondent Shannon Bream claimed his statement put Democrats on the "defensive" over "views on abortion most Americans find extreme." During the segment, Bream highlighted a Quinnipiac poll showing "a majority of Americans support legislation that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy," to paint Democrats as extreme. Later in the show, panelists A.B. Stoddard, Charles Krauthammer, and Steve Hayes applauded Paul for "flipping the script" and exposing Democrats' "extremism" on reproductive choice. Hayes called him "absolutely brilliant" saying he "reframed the issue entirely," and Charles Krauthammer praised Paul's move saying banning abortion is "the right thing to do, and it's a winning issue."
Fox's praise for Paul's misleading characterization of the reproductive choice debate is unsurprising given the network's history of helping the GOP rebrand itself - as Bloomberg Politics' David Weigel pointed out, Paul's attempt to flip the script was "exactly what the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC ha[s] been advising Republicans to do since 2012."
Newly elected National Rifle Association president Allan D. Cors riffed on the NRA's "Stand and Fight" slogan by appending the words "or die" to the end and offered blatant falsehoods about a new background check law in an interview promoted on NRA News.
Cors was elected to a two year term as president of the NRA during the April 10 - 12 NRA annual meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, and replaces Jim Porter, who began his term in 2013. Before becoming president, Cors was the NRA's first vice president. Pete Brownell, who owns a company that manufactures gun parts and ammunition, was elected as the new first vice president at the meeting, meaning that he will likely become NRA president in 2017.
Cors has served on the NRA's board of directors since 1972 and is a past president of the NRA Foundation. According to an NRA profile, Cors, who has a background in governmental affairs, "enjoys his work on Capitol Hill, advocating for or against legislation."
Under the NRA's organizational structure, the direction of the gun group will still be led by executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who was also reelected to his position at the meeting but made headlines for complaining about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency by saying, "eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough."
The NRA is now introducing Cors to its supporters with an interview that aired on the April 14 edition of NRA News show Cam & Company.
During the interview, Cors described the NRA as "stronger than ever" by comparing the modern day NRA to the NRA of the 1960s that he said did not do enough to oppose the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. That legislation, enacted in the wake of the gun assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, created the federal framework for the regulation of firearms.
The main provisions of the Gun Control Act prohibit the sale of guns to felons and other dangerous people, require individuals "engaged in the business" of selling guns to obtain a Federal Firearms License, give authority to the federal government to prohibit the importation of firearms that lack "sporting purposes," and require manufacturers to affix serial numbers to guns.
Speaking of his efforts during the legislation's consideration, Cors said, "we did as much as we could to hold back some of the really bad things, but we did get rolled finally when Martin Luther King was -- when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated."
From the April 15 edition of CNN's New Day:
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From the April 14 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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During remarks at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, NRA board member Ted Nugent shared an analogy that involved him shooting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, referenced shooting Reid during an April 12 talk at the NRA's meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, at an event called, "Freedom is not Free and We the People Must Keep It Alive!"
The NRA's annual meeting also featured speeches by GOP presidential candidates and contenders including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and others.
Nugent's comment came during a question and answer session where an audience member asked, "How and why did the NRA ever endorse Harry Reid to serve as the front man of Osama Obama?"
The NRA never actually endorsed Reid, but in 2010 the gun group did donate $4,000 to his reelection efforts. Any goodwill between Reid and the NRA likely ended in 2013 with Reid's introduction of legislation to expand background checks on gun sales.
In response to the question, Nugent called Reid a "lying prick," but described him as a necessary evil, stating, "If your child is dying and there is only one way to get to the doctor, would you get on Harry Reid's boat to get there? ... I'd get on the boat, get there, and then I'd shoot him."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Nugent then further described the NRA's strategy as infallible, stating, "if you see them endorse someone like Harry Reid it's because this deceptive bastard actually stood up for our Second Amendment rights contrary to the alternative candidate." He added, "when the NRA makes a move that you're not sure about, please give them the benefit of the doubt."
Conservative activist Grover Norquist was reelected to the National Rifle Association's board of directors in spite of a campaign by Glenn Beck and others that baselessly smeared Norquist as a clandestine agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beck, who frequently delivers the keynote speech at the NRA's annual meeting, previously said he would quit the NRA if Norquist was reelected.
During an April 11 member's meeting at the NRA's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, NRA election committee chairman Bill Carter announced that Norquist was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA's board, terminating in 2018:
After announcing the results, Carter added, "These are your boards ladies and gentleman and I ask that they be acknowledged ... and ladies and gentlemen, they are here for you, each and every one of you."
From the National Rifle Association's annual meeting of members on April 11:
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In its analysis of an unprecedented change to how the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is selected, The Wall Street Journal ignored the significant financial contributions a right-wing group made in support of the move, which would strengthen conservative control of the court before it examines possible illegal campaign coordination between that same group and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). Instead, the editorial board focused on the fact that the current chief justice has a lawyer who is on the board of directors of a judicial election reform group founded by George Soros.
On April 7, voters in Wisconsin approved a constitutional amendment that changed how the state supreme court picks its chief justice. For the past 126 years, the longest serving justice on the bench was automatically selected to act as chief justice. After passage of the new amendment, which was supported by Republican lawmakers in the state and boosted by hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent spending from conservative groups, the court itself will now elect which justice they want to serve as chief.
The conservative majority of the court is expected to replace current Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a liberal, with one of their own.
But in an April 9 editorial, the Journal failed to mention the conservative support for the amendment and the influence outside spending had on the outcome of the vote, and instead attacked Abrahamson for filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new amendment. The editorial went on to add that her "lawyer is Robert Peck, a member of the board of directors of George Soros's Justice at Stake. The group wants to end state judicial elections and replace them with nominating commissions that allow state bar associations to hand-pick judges."
From the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action April 10 leadership forum:
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As media outlets across the political spectrum continue to assess the implications of Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) contentious behavior toward reporters, much of the analysis does not explore what irritated the presidential candidate in two recent interviews -- the observation that support for unconditional abortion bans and fetal "personhood" laws cannot be reconciled with support for exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
Almost immediately after announcing his candidacy, Paul's condescending behavior toward female reporters was widely criticized as sexist, when he "simplistically and condescendingly" refused to acknowledge his reversal on foreign policy toward Iran to Today Show host Savannah Guthrie -- a position that even the conservative National Review's Rich Lowry labeled a "flip-flop." Subsequent coverage of Paul's Today interview focused on his rudeness toward Guthrie, and even when outlets also noted he "bristled" and "ducked questions" in other interviews about his inconsistent record on exceptions to abortion bans, the extent of that contradiction was unexplored.
The questions about his support for abortion ban exceptions originated in an interview with the Associated Press on the same day as his Today interview, when Paul "dodg[ed] a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned?" Paul's refusal to answer whether or not his broad support for abortion bans includes an accommodation for rape, incest, or the health of the mother continued on CNN's The Situation Room. In one exchange, Wolf Blitzer directly asked whether Paul supported an exception for victims of rape and incest. In response, Paul claimed that "there will be extenuating circumstances, and I've supported legislation both with exceptions and without exceptions":
The NRA is choosing to host the pinnacle event of its annual meeting at a venue that does not allow members of the public to carry firearms, a decision that stands in sharp contrast to claims from NRA leadership that "gun-free zones" are not safe and should be avoided.
The NRA will hold its annual meeting April 10 through 12 in Nashville, Tennessee, with events primarily occurring at the Music City Center, which is an exhibition hall, and the Bridgestone Arena.
Some attendees are upset that they will not be allowed to carry guns at the Bridgestone Arena during the event, due to the venue's policy prohibiting firearms, according to Nashville Public Radio.
The NRA frequently tells supporters that gun-free zones imperil their lives, enable mass shootings, and invite terrorists.
For example, during the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told the crowd that the Islamic State is "carving a bloody trail that leads to our doorstep" and suggested it is not a matter of "if" but "when" a terrorist attack will occur at "the supposedly gun-free zone of the Mall of America."
As media turn to cover a high-profile gathering of potential Republican presidential contenders at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, the extreme stances taken by the NRA on a wide range of gun issues over the past year will also be on full display.
Numerous Republicans expected to run for president in 2016 are scheduled to appear on April 10 at a NRA Institute for Legislative Action "leadership forum" during the NRA's 2015 annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.
But as candidates seek to improve their stature in the eyes of the NRA, they will be ingratiating themselves to an organization whose continued opposition to popular expanded background checks on gun sales represents just one extremist position it has taken in the debate over gun regulation.
According to the NRA, this year's "leadership forum" will feature Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham, Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump. NRA's bombastic executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and top lobbyist Chris Cox, as well as a handful of non-contenders, will also address the forum.
Since last year's meeting, the NRA has taken several extreme positions in policy debates, including opposing legislation to disarm convicted stalkers, backing "open carry" extremists who carry assault weapons in public, attempting to hijack the issue of campus rape to push guns on campus, and floating the idea of requiring children to learn how to use a gun to advance in school.
The NRA's leadership has also expressed outrageous views. NRA head LaPierre unleashed a signature paranoid rant just prior to the 2014 midterm elections, fearmongering over the threat of an EMP attack and other calamities to encourage supporters to back NRA candidates. LaPierre also indulged an Islamophobic conspiracy theory that targets one of the NRA's own board members in order to appease Glenn Beck. NRA board member Ted Nugent continued to offend, including suggesting just weeks before the meeting that veterans are committing suicide because Obama is "the enemy." Another board member who represents the NRA in New Jersey insulted a family who lost a child in the Newtown mass shooting as a "prop," garnering outrage.
Read below for more information on these topics and descriptions of other examples of NRA extremism over the past year:
In a "special two-cover election issue" published in October 2014, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom printed a paranoid column from LaPierre that fearmongered about terrorist attacks and social unrest in the United States before calling on supporters to "vote our guns" on Election Day.
The cover of the magazine featured a gun-toting Islamic State militant, while LaPierre's column was illustrated with a graphic that combined an image of Islamic State executioner "Jihadi John" and the exterior of a suburban home:
In a column that urged supporters to own guns and vote for NRA-endorsed candidates, LaPierre raised the specter of several calamities, including an electromagnetic pulse attack that could kill 9 of 10 Americans, terrorist attacks similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks or the Westgate shopping mall attack, and people rioting "just for the sheer hell of it."
Bill O'Reilly cited debunked statistics to claim that more white than black Americans are killed by police officers in the wake of the fatal South Carolina police shooting of an unarmed black man.
A police officer was charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in North Charleston, South Carolina on April 7, as reported by The New York Times. The Times noted that "the shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers' using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men."
On the April 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly condemned the South Carolina shooting, but used the opportunity to claim that "police shootings of black Americans" have fallen "70 percent in the last 40, 50 years," concluding that the statistics show "they're way, way down." O'Reilly cited the statistic to assert that "there doesn't seem to be, as some people would have you believe, that police are trying to hunt down young black men and take their lives."
But O'Reilly's statistics were debunked months ago when he initially cited them to claim that more white Americans are killed in police shootings than black Americans. Politifact called O'Reilly's claim "mostly false," noting that he relied on "shaky" statistics that fail to "paint a complete picture" due to a lack of comprehensive national data on fatal shootings by police officers.
Furthermore, O'Reilly's statistics do not account for the disproportionate number of unarmed black Americans killed by police in the United States. As FiveThirtyEight notes:
In 2014 and March of 2015, Mapping Police Violence counted 297 people killed by police around the country who were unarmed. Of those people, 117 were African-American, 167 were not, and the project couldn't identify race for 13. That means 41 percent of unarmed people killed by police during that time in the database (with an identified race) were African-American, far out of proportion in a country that was 14 percent African-American in 2013.
And according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), African Americans are the second "racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement," following Native Americans. The CJCJ also noted:
African Americans, 13 percent of the population, are victims in 26 percent of police shootings. Law enforcement kills African Americans at 2.8 times the rate of white non-Latinos, and 4.3 times the rate of Asians.
From the April 7 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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