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  • NRA's New Testimonial For Trump Features Man Who Promoted Sandy Hook Conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A testimonial video for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released by the National Rifle Association prominently features a man who posted online content suggesting that some Sandy Hook Elementary School parents were actually actors.

    NRA News, the NRA’s media arm, published a nearly eight-minute testimonial in support of Trump on July 25. The NRA endorsed Trump on May 20 during its annual meeting in Louisville, KY.

    The testimonial echoes claims made at the annual meeting, focusing on the false claim that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment as president. The testimonial also features video footage of terrorist attacks, including the recent attack in Nice, France, that left 84 people dead.

    Throughout the testimonial, the NRA presents interviews of people attending the NRA annual meeting expressing support for Trump. One individual identified by the NRA as Vince Resor is featured five times in the video.

    Resor first comments on gun-free zones (“Gun-free zones have cost us a lot of lives and it’s time to put an end to that”) and the future of the Supreme Court (“America won’t be America. The Supreme Court can make or break the country for the next generation”) before offering words of encouragement for Trump.

    Resor says that he is “excited” about Trump, that “he is right for the country at this time,” and “You either vote for Trump or you vote for a dim future for all Americans, and your kids, and generations to come.”

    The NRA video gives Resor the last word, with his pitch closing out the testimonial: “Keep your foot on the gas, Donald Trump. This is no time to let up. We’re sliding down the slippery slope and it’s time to put the hammer down and get the job done.”

     

    On his public Facebook page, Resor suggested that parents of two children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of a 2012 mass shooting, are actually actors. Sharing a false report from a conspiracy website about the parents of two Sandy Hook students, Resor wrote weeks after the shooting, “What is amazing here is not how despicable this is, but how unremarkable it is to learn that the mainstream media deceives us with propaganda to advance their cause. Disgusting.”

    He also referenced the same conspiracy in April 2013, writing, “Now are these the real Newtown parents or the actors from Florida?”

    The claim that certain people who made media appearances or appeared in news footage following the Sandy Hook mass shooting were actually “crisis actors” is a central tenet to the conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax.

    Other conspiracies appear on Resor’s page, including the claim that President Obama is a Muslim:

    Resor also operates a blog where he wrote that he is “all for racial profiling” and “and any other method that helps law enforcement civil servants rid us of the criminal element fouling our society,” arguing, “If you wear a towel around your head, you get searched. If your crack is exposed because your pants are too low, you get searched.”

  • Right-Wing Media Slam Obama For Noting That Lax Gun Laws Lead To More Violence

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    During his eulogy at a memorial service for the five police officers killed last week in Dallas, TX., President Obama criticized easy access to firearms, noting, “we flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.” Even though a majority of Americans support strengthening lax gun laws, conservative media slammed Obama for his remark, calling him “the worst,” “an asshat,” and “nakedly divisive.”

  • NRA’s Ted Nugent Smears Philando Castile And Says Obama Wants To Start A Race War

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent reacted to the police shooting of Philando Castile and the mass shooting targeting police officers in Dallas, TX, by claiming President Obama wants to start a race war and by smearing Castile with an unsubstantiated report that he may have carried out an armed robbery.

    Nugent made the claims during a series of Facebook posts on July 9. Reacting to the July 7 mass shooting in Dallas, TX, where a gunman reportedly angered by recent police shootings of African-Americans opened fire during a peaceful protest, killing five police officers and wounding seven more, Nugent claimed Obama wants to start a race war.

    Nugent wrote Obama “wants a racewar (sic)” and that he “will go down in history as a maniac America hating freak with his fundemental (sic) transformation scam.”

    An hour later Nugent “liked” a comment predicting a race war, and added his own commentary, “yeah no shit. blacks slaughtering blacks at an unprecedented rate. Blacks killed more blacks this week than the KKK has in 50yrs. braindead goofballs”:

    Nugent also reacted to the July 6 fatal shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in St. Anthony, MN. Castile had a permit to carry a concealed gun and reportedly may have been trying to explain that fact to the officer who shot him. Following the shooting, the NRA was criticized for failing to comment on the shooting of a law-abiding gun owner.

    In the aftermath of the shooting, it was reported that the officer who shot Castile believed that he matched the description of an armed robbery suspect, according to the officer’s attorney. There is, however, no evidence that Castile was involved in the armed robbery in question.

    But Conservative Treehouse, a blog that played a key role in smearing Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager shot and killed while out walking in his neighborhood, published an article on July 8 suggesting Castile was connected to a July 2 robbery at a convenience store.

    In response to a commenter asking “why has the NRA not commented on Philando” given that Castile “was doing what any law abiding (sic) gun owners would do,” Nugent wrote, “not really” and shared the Conservative Treehouse article:

    Snopes has debunked the Conservative Treehouse article, concluding, “The Conservative Treehouse article employed a series of half-truths, misleading claims, and unsupported speculation in an attempt to justify the fatal force used by an officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. No real evidence has yet come to light supporting the notion that Castile had been involved in an armed robbery or was carrying a firearm illegally when he was killed.”

    (The NRA had actually commented on the Castile shooting at the time of Nugent’s comment. The gun group issued a “tepid” statement on July 8 that failed to mention Castile’s name.)

    In a subsequent comment on the same thread where he smeared Castile, Nugent wrote that it was time to “oust” President Obama:

    UPDATE: 

    Nugent made a subsequent Facebook post that appears to allude to the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Castile. The implication of Nugent's advice is that he believes Castile did not have "enuf brainmatter (sic)" to avoid being shot:

  • NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Ironically Rails Against “Elites”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre railed against “elites” in a new NRA video, complaining that powerful people in politics, Hollywood, and the media “run our country.”

    In a July 5 video titled “We Don’t Need You,” released as part of the NRA’s “national campaign,” LaPierre complained that there is “no longer any difference between our politicians and the elite media who report on them, and the Hollywood elites who bankroll them both.”

    According to LaPierre, these groups of elite figures “work together, in some newsrooms and boardrooms and Washington back rooms and star-studded champagne fundraisers, to decide for the rest of us what's news and what's not, what's true and what's not, who gets protected, who goes to prison, who gets our money, and who gets our vote.”

    LaPierre added: “These elites threaten our very survival, and to them we say: We don't trust you, we don't fear you, and we don't need you. Take your hands off our future.”

    But if being elite means wielding outsized influence, LaPierre and the NRA are perfect definitions of the word.

    LaPierre gets more than $1 million each year in pay and other compensation from the NRA and is registered as a federal lobbyist for the organization. The NRA also wields outsized influence over Congress due to the longstanding, but false, belief that the organization has the ability to use elections to remove politicians from office who refuse to go along with its agenda. (Actual analyses of federal election outcomes and of NRA election spending have proved that the conventional wisdom is wrong, but the attitude persists in some respects, impacting congressional behavior.)

    While LaPierre put forward a populist message in the NRA video, it is the NRA that blocks broadly popular legislation and congressional action. The organization is widely credited as the reason Congress cannot pass legislation to expand background checks, a proposal favored by between 88 and 93 percent of voters. The NRA is also key in blocking legislation to prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms, a proposal favored by 86 percent of Americans. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has cited the NRA’s opposition to Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland -- pointing to its distortion of Garland’s judicial record -- as justification for obstructing his nomination, even though strong majorities of voters want Garland to receive a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • The NRA Does Leg Work For Terrorists, Casing An Oklahoma Mall For The "Perfect" Attack

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association is promising that there will be an Islamic terrorist attack involving a mass shooting at a shopping mall, going so far as to release a video in which the NRA used a camera phone to case a real mall in Oklahoma. The video identifies where exits are “few and far between” and where there is “lots of open area,” “high ground” and “places to channelize people.”

    Footage of the NRA casing a mall appears in a video released by the NRA News’ commentator series. The video opens with a re-enactment of a would-be terrorist planning his attack, then switches to the NRA’s camera phone footage of an Oklahoma mall, before returning to a video re-enactment of a planned mass shooting at a shopping mall. NRA News contributor and former Navy SEAL Dom Raso narrates the video, attempting to connect the NRA’s re-enactments with its footage of the mall, as well as news footage from the 2013 terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

    The video begins by depicting a bearded man of apparent Middle Eastern descent watching a news program about a “generational problem in our Muslim community” while he plans a terrorist attack. Raso narrates, “Right now there is someone in America who wakes up in the morning and starts working, just like you. Think of the week before a huge job interview or a big presentation. Think about how much work you put into make it perfect. He is doing the same thing, except it isn’t for weeks. In some cases, it’s generations of dreaming, planning, working. … He is a radical Islamic terrorist.”

    Raso then posits that the attack will occur at a mall, arguing, “He wants to be remembered for killing more innocent people than the terrorists before him. That’s exactly why he is looking for gun-free zones in states and cities where politicians have reduced our Second Amendment freedoms.” News coverage of the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack, depicting real security camera footage from the shooting, is played as Raso narrates. (In fact, the NRA’s claims about gun-free zones have been debunked: There is no evidence that mass shooters pick targets based on whether civilians can carry guns or that civilians with guns have stopped public mass shootings.)

    The NRA video then switches to footage of a real mall, apparently shot on a camera phone by a member of the NRA’s video team. While video footage and freeze frames of shoppers at the mall are shown, Raso says, “As he walks through nearby shopping malls, he’s looking at the exits. He wants them to be few and far between -- hard to find in a panic, and easy to block. He wants lots of open area, high ground, and places to channelize people.”

    The NRA video blurs out some faces and store signs, but not others, making the mall identifiable through its distinct characteristics. The shopping center the NRA cased appears to be Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City, OK, less than a mile from the offices of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm. The location of the mall also undercuts Raso’s argument that a terrorist would only target “gun-free zones in states and cities where politicians have reduced our Second Amendment freedoms,” given that Oklahoma has some of the loosest gun laws in the country.

    After the Oklahoma mall footage, the video returns to a re-enactment of a mass shooting breaking out at a mall. Raso narrates the viewer’s impending death amid sounds of screams, saying, “You still have no idea where the shots are coming from, but you see an exit sign. Tunnel visions sets in, your heartbeat increases, and now you feel a shortening of breath. You think you’ve escaped, but then you realize the shots and screams are getting louder. You’re surrounded. He’s planned this in advance. He’s covering the exits. He is going to kill you.”

    With the re-enactment over, Raso acknowledges, “The people who want to restrict your right to bear arms will call this fearmongering.”

    The video closes with Raso stating that the prospect of a mall terror attack means we should be asking, “What are we and our leadership doing to prevent it?” But while the NRA’s answer to combating terrorism apparently involves pushing against legislation to reduce gun violence, the terror group Al Qaeda infamously released a video urging terrorists who wish to carry out an attack on American soil to exploit the United States’ lax gun laws.

     

    Here is the NRA’s full transcript of its video:

    Right now, there is someone in America who wakes up in the morning and starts working, just like you.

    Think of the week before a huge job interview, or a big presentation. Think about how much work you put in to make it perfect. He is doing the same thing … except it isn't for weeks. In some cases, it's generations of dreaming, planning and working: 50, 60, 70 hours a week in anticipation of the moment he's been waiting for his entire life.

    His job is to disrupt freedom by killing you, your family and our fellow Americans.

    He knows he gets one shot, and it has to be perfect. He wants maximum chaos and maximum fear; he needs the news media to replay his work for years to come.

    He is a radical Islamic terrorist.

    I spent 12 years of my life hunting down people like him, and I know exactly how they think.

    And I know they are looking at shopping malls. Because they've already done it.

    September 21, 2013. Nairobi, Kenya. A group of heavily armed gunmen executed a pre-planned attack on Westgate Shopping Mall during a busy Saturday. Sixty-three innocent people were brutally murdered. Close to 200 more were injured.

    That terrorist I mentioned earlier? His goal is to outdo the Westgate massacre. He wants to be remembered for killing more innocent people than the terrorists before him.

    That's exactly why he's looking for gun-free zones in states and cities where politicians have reduced our Second Amendment freedoms. He wants to produce mass chaos, mass panic; he wants to immediately assume control over everyone in the building. So of course he is only going to consider malls that prohibit his targets from carrying firearms.

    As he walks through nearby shopping malls, he's looking at the exits. He wants them to be few and far between—hard to find in a panic, and easy to block.

    He wants lots of open area, high ground, and places to channelize people. Most important, he wants an unsuspecting and an unprepared crowd. In order for his plan to work, he is counting on everyone in that mall being completely and utterly unprepared.

    Think about this.

    You're at the mall with your kids on a busy Saturday, picking up clothes for your family's summer vacation. As you wait in a long line to checkout, you and your kids laugh and smile. You'll be at the beach in a few weeks.

    Out of nowhere, you hear shots fired. A few seconds later, screams. Your mind tells you what's happening, but you still try and convince yourself it isn't real. The shots get louder, and the screams multiply.

    People begin to realize what's happening. Panic spreads and chaos erupts. Kids get separated from their parents. The elderly are pushed to the ground. The teenager behind the checkout counter is frozen in fear.

    You still have no idea where the shots are coming from, but you see an exit sign. Tunnel vision sets in, your heartbeat increases, and now you feel a shortening of breath. You think you've escaped, but then you realize the shots and screams are getting louder. You're surrounded. He's planned this in advance … he's covering the exits … he is going to kill you.

    The people who want to restrict your right to bear arms will call this fear-mongering. They'll say it almost certainly will never to happen to you.

    Maybe it won't. But it will happen to someone. And what if that someone is you? And what if it is your family?

    Both as a society and as individuals, what are we doing to prepare for it? More importantly, what are we and our leadership doing to prevent it?

    Deal with reality as it is, not as we wish it was … or face the consequences.

  • NRA Filmed Its Rule-Breaking Pro-Trump Ad At Alexandria National Cemetery

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A controversial National Rifle Association ad filmed at a military cemetery in violation of government policy was shot at Alexandria National Cemetery.

    On June 30, the NRA Political Victory Fund launched a $2 million ad buy in swing states. The ad features veteran Mark Geist -- a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks -- as he walks in and stands in front of a national cemetery.

    Because of the distinctive fencing and foliage, Media Matters can identify the cemetery as Alexandria National Cemetery. A Friday visit to the cemetery confirmed it as the location for the ad.

    The cemetery is located in Old Town, Alexandria, which is also the headquarters for NRA News and the site of an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.

    It is a violation of government policy to film a political ad at a national cemetery. In recent years, several political ads have been pulled because they were filmed in national cemeteries.

    Facing questions over where it filmed the ad, the NRA previously declined to tell ABC News where it was filmed, other than to say it was not filmed at Arlington National Cemetery.

    In the ad, Geist says, “A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win. Well I know some other people who won’t be voting this year either.” The ad then shows footage of Alexandria National Cemetery.

     

     

    The ad goes on to use the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks to criticize Clinton and ends with a graphic that says “Trump 2016.”

    The area where Geist is shown walking and pausing at a gravesite is largely filled with Civil War era graves. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Alexandria National Cemetery is one of the original 14 national cemeteries established in 1862. The first burials made in the cemetery were soldiers who died during training or from disease in the numerous hospitals around Alexandria. By 1864, the cemetery was nearly filled to capacity, which eventually led to the planning, development and construction of Arlington National Cemetery.”

    Geist uploaded a photo to his Instagram page in May with the caption, “Alexandria National Cemetery visiting fallenpatriots from the civil war.#13hours #benghazi #markozgeist#neverhillary.”

    The ad has been criticized by veterans groups. VoteVets.org has called for the ad to be taken down, while a national spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars said, "Don’t use our dead to score political points." 

  • The Inherent Contradiction Behind The NRA’s Anti-Clinton Benghazi Ad

    Star Of Ad Previously Said He Didn’t Hold Clinton Accountable For Benghazi Attacks

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s political action committee released an ad featuring a former CIA contracter present during the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks urging viewers not to vote for Hillary Clinton because of the attacks. But the contractor previously said that Clinton is not accountable for the attacks.

    USA Today reported on June 29 that the NRA Political Victory Fund was launching a $2 million ad campaign which the paper notes is “one of the larger expenditures by an outside group on behalf of the presumptive Republican nominee.” The NRA-PVF titled the ad “Mark ‘Oz’ Geist: Stop Clinton, Vote Trump.”

    The ad features Mark “Oz” Geist, a former CIA contractor who responded to the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi that claimed four American lives, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Geist is the co-author of 13 Hours, a book chronicling how he and other contractors undertook a rescue mission during the attacks. The book was later turned into a 2016 Michael Bay film with a similar title.

    In the ad, Geist, who has endorsed Trump, is shown walking through a cemetery while saying, “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.”

    But Geist has said in the past he does not blame Clinton for the attacks. During a January 2016 appearance on ABC’s Nightline to promote the film 13 Hours, Geist disagreed with the notion that Clinton was “accountable” for the Benghazi attacks, instead blaming the terror group that carried out the attack. According to an ABC News writeup of the interview:

    But while many of Clinton's enemies use Benghazi to hold her accountable, Geist has his own perspective.

    “Do I hold her accountable? No. You know who I hold accountable is al-Sharia,” he said. “That’s who attacked them. That’s who killed the ambassador.”

    In addition, Geist has pushed back on the conservative media myth (which congressional investigations have also debunked) that Clinton or some other high-level Obama administration official issued a “stand down” order that delayed the attempt by him and other contractors to rescue Americans under fire during the attacks. During a September 9, 2014, appearance on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, Geist instead blamed the delay responding on the CIA station chief, while attributing no “malice” to the chief’s decisions. From a CNN transcript of the segment (emphasis added):

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The chief of base wasn't telling the contractors to wait out of malice or unwillingness to help those under attack. There is a huge and fundamental difference between a short delay for security considerations and a stand down order.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    TAPPER: I understand that this might just be semantics. But their argument is that Bob wanted to make sure that they got Intel, wanted to make sure you had enough weapons, wanted to make sure there was enough backup. It wasn't a political decision.

    GEIST: Sure, sure.

    TAPPER: Your take?

    PARONTO: My take on that is the first five minutes -- and I've even said this, and I even said this to the committee when we were interviewed. I said the first five minutes, I'll give you that. It is a combat situation. We do need to adjust fire and get ourselves in order. The next 20 minutes, no. Tactically, that's unsound and minutes cost lives. And they died of smoke inhalation, Sean and the ambassador. So, once that comes about in that 20 minute time frame, the decision needed to be made. And we need to go - we need to stay in. Also, we didn't have a rapport with the 17 February militia.

    TAPPER: Right.

    PARONTO: So we are calling - calling- we are relying on somebody to rescue our friends and our comrades and we didn't trust them. We didn't initially trust them. We still don't trust them.

    TAPPER: Mark.

    GEIST: Well, you know, and we've never indicated that there was any malice from them. And why he made the decision. But you have six operators that have probably together almost 100 years of experience in counterinsurgency operations. The question that we have, is why wouldn't you utilize that asset that you have available to get out there and see and put eyes on to find out real true intelligence instead of depending on a local national to get that intelligence.

  • Fox Business Makes The German Cinema Standoff All About Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In the middle of an unfolding standoff between police and a gunman at a movie theater in Germany, Fox Business host Stuart Varney repeatedly pivoted to promoting Donald Trump, calling the incident “a plus” for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

    On the June 23 edition of Varney & Co., Varney dedicated two segments to the developing situation, speculating in each that the situation might benefit Trump’s campaign. First, Varney and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley, a Trump apologist,  agreed that the situation -- initially reported as a “mass shooting” -- would “absolutely” benefit the GOP front-runner because he has “emphasized the need for strong national security policy.” 

    Next, Varney asked Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News judicial analyst, what impact the incident might have on U.S. immigration policy. Napolitano responded, “When a crisis like this happens, it should benefit Donald Trump,” because “he portrays himself as the stronger, sterner protector of our shores.” He advised Trump to “express outrage and … determination” to “one up Mrs. Clinton.” Napolitano has a history of pushing conspiracy theories and recently used the horrific mass shooting in Orlando to promote debunked right-wing media myths about gun violence. He is also reportedly a likely Supreme Court nominee, should Trump become president.    

    Trump foreign policy adviser Walid Phares echoed Fox’s promotion of the GOP candidate, saying that if the shooting was “politically motivated terrorism,” it will benefit Trump because it will prove that “terrorism is active in Europe.”

    Varney has track record of inserting praise of Trump’s foreign policy positions into his reporting. On May 19, when an EgyptAir flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, the Fox Business host framed the tragedy as “a plus” and “politically good for Donald Trump.” On March 22, he also let Phares erroneously claim the United States doesn’t have a vetting process for Syrian refugees, whom Trump has incorrectly labeled as a threat to national security.