Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):
The influential conservatives who penned essays for National Review urging voters not to cast their ballots for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump have their own histories of extremism. They have called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seeded hatred for white people" and compared him to a "skinny, ghetto crackhead"; termed Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester"; reportedly "helped push" Sarah Palin onto the 2008 GOP presidential ticket; and offered inflammatory Islamophobic comments.
The conservative National Review Online (NRO) released a comprehensive feature of conservatives attacking current GOP front runner Donald Trump, highlighting the divisive 2016 Republican primary season. National Review editors and right-wing personalities such as Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, and Erick Erickson criticized Trump as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and "the very epitome of vulgarity."
Fox host Megyn Kelly hosted a group of conservative media personalities that have banded together against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dana Loesch, Katie Pavlich, and Brent Bozell have contributed to a special edition of the National Review, dedicated to questioning Trump's commitment to conservatism. From the January 21 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the January 13 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Right-wing media are mocking President Obama's decision to honor victims of gun violence during his January 12 State of the Union address by leaving an empty seat in First Lady Michelle Obama's guest box, calling the decision "dangerous" and "empty rhetoric."
Fox News devoted numerous segments to reports of mass sexual assaults committed in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve by men "having a 'North African or Arabic' appearance," using the story to fearmonger about the "direct threat" posed by "how fast you allow ... Syrian refugees into this country." This reporting stands in contrast to Fox's history of downplaying sexual assaults when it doesn't fit their anti-refugee agenda.
A commentary video from the National Rifle Association claimed that President Obama stood in front of "the wrong people" when delivering a speech about gun violence before gun violence survivors, and that instead he should have stood before "the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders."
On January 5, Obama announced during a speech from the White House that his administration is taking executive action to address gun violence in light of Congress' inaction following several high-profile mass shootings. During his remarks, Obama stood in front of several survivors of gun violence. He was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel during the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.
The NRA lashed out at Obama for speaking before victims of gun violence in a January 8 video narrated by NRA News commentator Dana Loesch, who is also a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze. In the video, Loesch called the gun violence survivors present at Obama's speech "the wrong people":
LOESCH: On January 5, 2016, the president held a press conference and shared the stage with survivors of gun violence and family members of the affected. The problem is he is dishonest. He stood in front of the wrong people. He pledges to help those affected by illegally possessed and used firearms, but actions speak louder than words. If the president wanted to stand in front of a group of people so as to claim that he is helping them, he should surround himself with -- and stand in front of -- the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders.
Loesch went on to argue that when it comes to crime in the United States, Obama is on the side of criminals rather than the victims of crimes. This claim echoes an oft-stated falsehood by the NRA that Obama refuses to enforce existing gun laws.
In fact, if there is any entity that frustrates the enforcement of federal gun laws the most, it is clearly the NRA, which has for decades attempted to hinder the operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws. Furthermore, included in Obama's executive actions are several measures to ensure that current gun laws are being enforced in an effective manner.
A commentary video from the National Rifle Association labeled those who called for more than thoughts and prayers following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California the "Godless Left" and claimed that they "march hand-in-hand" with terrorists "toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all."
In a video released on December 14 -- the three year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- conservative radio host and NRA News commentator Dana Loesch criticized reactions to the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino that claimed 14 lives. Loesch singled out a New York Daily News cover that contended "God Isn't Fixing This" as well as commentators who called for stronger gun laws, arguing that merely sending "thoughts and prayers" to the victims was not a sufficient response to the shooting.
Claiming that those who made this argument "mocked the entire concept of religion" and carried out a "coordinated assault" on "our right to believe," Loesch said that "the Godless Left ... share the same fanatical fervor to tear apart the foundations of America as the terrorists who threaten our very survival. And together, they march hand-in-hand toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all."
Right-wing pundits criticized Attorney General Loretta Lynch for advocating action against anti-Muslim rhetoric that "edges towards violence" at the 10th annual Muslim Advocates dinner. Conservatives called the comments "sedition," but crime data shows anti-Muslim hate crimes on the rise in U.S.
Following a December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was attacked by right-wing media figures for holding a press conference condemning the shootings.
After news reports of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, right-wing media figures reacted by attacking Muslims, chastising calls for gun safety, and dismissing the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.
The Blaze's Dana Loesch joined the NRA's media arm with the release of a commentary video that falsely and conspiratorially suggested that President Obama could require a family member who gives another family member a gun to register as a federally licensed firearm dealer and open their house to inspection by the government.
Loesch is now listed on the NRA News website as part of its commentators series, which the NRA describes as showcasing a "new generation of advocates and activists for the Second Amendment." She is also employed by Glenn Beck's conservative network The Blaze, hosts a nationally syndicated conservative radio show, and is a frequent guest on Fox News.
In her first video for the NRA, released on November 18, Loesch claimed, "The president could use his phone and his pen to require that even the simple transfer of a firearm between family members -- like if my husband handed down his rifle to our oldest son -- be treated in accordance with FFL [Federal Firearm License] requirements."
"So right now the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] doesn't issue FFLs for total personal use only," Loesch continued, "But if this were to change, then the ATF would be required to treat your home, and your family, as they do all gun dealers. This means regular inspections. You would be publicly listed with the other licensees and you must allow the ATF to inspect your recordkeeping. Ta-da. National registry. It's the same thing, by the way, that Hillary Clinton has proposed as an executive action should she ever become president."
The scenario described by Loesch is absurd. In recent months both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign have expressed interest in executive action that would partially close the "private sales loophole" that allows a significant number of guns to be sold without a background check.
Under current federal law, individuals "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must obtain a Federal Firearm License (FFL) and run background checks on customers. People who are engaged in "occasional sales" or sell out of their "personal collection" do not need to obtain an FFL or run checks on buyers.
Some gun sellers, including firearms traffickers, take advantage of the vagueness of the definition of what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms in order to sell large numbers of guns without a background check.
The Obama administration and the Clinton campaign are considering proposals to require people who are engaged in significant commercial firearm activity to perform background checks on customers, but the suggestion that these proposals would reach a father handing a gun down to a son is baseless and conspiratorial.
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration is examining proposals "to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year." The paper reported that one such proposal considered in 2013 by the administration would impose the requirement for individuals who sell more than 50 guns a year.
Likewise, Clinton is also only considering an FFL requirement for sellers of large numbers of guns. According to a Clinton aide the proposal would "ensure that high-volume gun sellers are covered by the same common-sense rules that apply to guns stores -- including requiring background checks on gun sales."
Policy papers by leading gun safety advocacy groups also make it clear that proposals would target people who are actually commercial sellers, and nothing in their proposals approaches requiring a father to obtain an FFL to give a gun to his son.
Loesch's claim about home inspections by the ATF, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws and regulating gun dealers, is also baseless fearmongering.
The ATF has limited resources, in large part due to the NRA's repeated efforts to hinder the agency. There are currently around 140,000 FFLs, and the ATF aims to inspect dealers every three to five years. According to The Trace, just 7 percent of dealers were inspected in 2014, and in 2013 just 42 percent of FFLs had been inspected by the ATF in the previous five years. If transfers of firearms between family members were to require an FFL, the ATF would be tasked with tens of millions of inspections each year, a scenario that highlights the absurdity of Loesch's claim.
Loesch concluded her video with another conspiracy, claiming that proponents of "common sense" gun laws actually want anyone who ever told a doctor or mental health professional that they were "moody" or anyone who ever got angry or shouted at work to be put into a database that disqualifies gun ownership. In reality, the Affordable Care Act contains NRA-backed provisions that prohibit certain data collection about gun ownership and laws that prohibit people from owning guns on the basis of serious mental health conditions do so on the basis of the individual being a danger to themselves or others, not whether they got angry at work.
Right-wing media attacked a CNN report that was "unable to independently confirm" incidents described in Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson's autobiography about his violent past -- including claims that he attempted "to kill somebody" -- calling the report "ruthless" for "dissecting" Carson's life, and using the report to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Conservative media rallied to dismiss the gender pay gap after actress Jennifer Lawrence published an essay discussing making less than her male peers while working on the film American Hustle.