This morning's Politico Playbook reports that the National Rifle Association will again be featuring sometime rocker, Washington Times columnist, and NRA board member Ted Nugent in their voter registration campaign.
In his 2010 spot for the group, the Nuge alternatively wielded an AR-variant rifle and a guitar and proclaimed himself "cocked, locked, and ready to rock, doc" before urging viewers to go to an NRA website to register to vote.
In recent years, Nugent has drawn far more attention for his vicious and extreme rhetoric than he has for his music. This is apparently of concern to his publicist, who last year rejected an email interview with Media Matters after receiving our questions, several of which focused on those questionable comments.
The NRA, however, appears to have no problem associating with someone who called Barack Obama a "piece of shit" and Hillary Clinton a "two-bit whore," referred to the Muslim community as "rude and stupid," said "[i]f it was up to me, if you uttered the word 'gun control,' we'd put you in jail," and uses homophobic language. (Nor have those comments kept Nugent off of Fox News.)
Below, with assistance from our archive and that of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence's MeetTheNRA.org, Media Matters presents Nugent's top 10 most inflammatory, offensive, and extreme comments.
10. After The Tucson Shooting, "Conservatives Should Turn Up The Rhetoric." In the wake of last year's tragic mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that left six dead and 19 injured, including horrific injuries to then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), many condemned the sort of hateful, insurrectionist rhetoric that spurs on episodes of anti-government violence.
Nugent, on the other hand, used his Washington Times column to state that while "liberals and others who should know better are calling for political rhetoric to be toned down," he believes that "conservatives should turn up the rhetoric." He added that "[o]nly softheaded, feel-good fantasizers from the cult of denial could believe that toning down the political rhetoric will somehow keep lunatics from doing loony things." He went on to urge his readers to "[e]xpose, isolate and eliminate liberals and their fuzzy-headed policies" and to "do America a favor and crush liberalism."
National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that "if you don't remember anything else I say today, write this down: this is the most dangerous election of our lifetimes." He warned that "all of our freedom, all of our rights" are at stake, asking, "Will we save America and our freedom? Will we save the Second Amendment from a second Obama White House?"
LAPIERRE: If you believe in freedom, and if you're as sick and tired of all the lies and schemes and Obama failures as I am, join us and stand up in this great fight. If you don't remember anything else I say today, write this down: this is the most dangerous election in our lifetimes. If Obama wins, we'll go to our graves mourning the freedoms we've lost. This election is all in, all of our freedom, all of our rights, and that means all of you. All in. No one sits this one out. So stand up right now and you tell me, will you defend freedom will all of your might? Come on, stand up. Let them hear you over at the White House. Will we fight to preserve our liberty and keep our nation strong and safe and free? Will we save America and our freedom? Will we save the Second Amendment from a second Obama White House?
LaPierre's warnings were based on his reiterated claim that the White House has not pushed for gun violence prevention measures because it is engaged in a "massive Obama conspiracy" to get re-elected, and then use President Obama's second term to "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and excise it from the U.S. Constitution."
LaPierre promised that Obama's purported strategy will not succeed, saying that the NRA is "all-in" for the 2012 elections and promising that "gun owners will be responsible" for Obama's defeat. New research from the American Prospect's Paul Waldman brings such claims from the NRA into question, demonstrating that "the NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections."
When LaPierre first asserted the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" at Florida's version of CPAC, he was widely mocked by media figures including Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews for what Maddow called "the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year." Today, LaPierre offered a rejoinder to such criticisms, saying that "the media won't win this election, gun owners will."
The NRA leader also suggested that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had acted "like some South American dictator" with regards to the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious,again offering up the baseless conspiracy that the operation had been deliberately designed by the White House to go wrong in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws.
UCLA constitutional law professor Adam Winkler took to The Daily Beast yesterday with a confusing message: Gun violence prevention is a "serious issue that deserves our leaders' attention," but those who care about the issue should avoid at all costs actually discussing it in public. He claims that doing so puts both progressive electability and gun violence prevention itself in peril before a wrathful gun lobby and its massive political war chest.
This argument simply doesn't hold up: the gun lobby is planning a massive campaign whether progressives push for stronger gun laws or not, and progressives have won in the face of such efforts in the past.
The impetus for Winkler's befuddled argument is Sunday's Super Bowl ad in which New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino, the leaders of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), state that they "both support the Second Amendment and believe America must do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."
In the past, Winkler has been criticized for "tr[ying] too hard ... to present himself as one of the few rational voices" in the debate while improperly implying that the gun violence prevention movement is "defined by extremists." But while Winkler calls gun violence "a serious issue that deserves our leaders' attention," he never actually engages with the solutions that Bloomberg and Menino have brought to the table. At least not in this piece; in a previous op-ed for the Beast, he wrote:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has proposed a viable and worthwhile set of reforms that would provide more funds to states to help cover the costs of record-keeping; stiffening penalties for states that don't submit records to the federal government; and clarifying the current gun laws' definition of mental illness.
So Winkler agrees that gun violence is a "serious issue," and largely approves of how the group would deal with that problem. And yet, he opposes the group actually trying to enact the legislation he supports. When or how this "serious issue" could receive "our leaders' attention" without anyone pushing for it goes unmentioned.
Since 2008, the gun lobby and right-wing media have been pushing various theories suggesting Barack Obama was secretly plotting against the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association set up www.gunbanobama.com as Glenn Beck warned Obama was working to "take away your gun." Three years after Obama's election the purported plans to enact sweeping gun bans and confiscation haven't materialized, but according to gun lobby chief Larry Keane, Rupert Murdoch's media empire is now engaging in "corporate gun control."
Last week online reports indicated that FOX Sports Media Group had told the Ultimate Fighting Championship's parent company that gun-related sponsorships would no longer be permitted for their events. Fox and the Ultimate Fighting Championship recently signed a 7-year broadcast agreement. On Wednesday the gun lobby trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation announced they had confirmed the sponsorship ban.
FOX's decision to ban advertisements for lawful products owned by more than 80 million Americans is nothing more than corporate gun control. We expect better from FOX. So should you.
The Gun Store and ammotogo.com are among the UFC sponsors who would be affected by this ban. If no sponsorships in a single sport doesn't sound like a big deal to you, then you probably aren't working to contrive controversies in a gun lobby press shop.
Eric Bolling's gun antics at Fox Sports' corporate cousins apparently won't stop the gun lobby, which apparently wants fighters sporting monikers like "Natural Born Killer" and "American Psycho" to be allowed to be sponsored by gun retailers. What part of the Second Amendment doesn't Fox understand?
Is there any national tragedy the National Rifle Association won't exploit to make a buck?
Last year the NRA marked the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks by sending its members two separate fundraising emails referencing the terrorist strikes. Over the weekend the NRA continued the trend, marking the anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster by encouraging their members to buy NRA-brand products from the NRAstore.com. Quoting President John F. Kennedy's words over a photo spread of the assassinated president and the shuttle, the NRA told their members, "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it."
Then the email proceeds try to unload some the NRA's "Pursue Freedom" products in the hope that Americans are willing to pay for them as well. Now you too can "Pursue Freedom of Buckle Choices" with a selection of official "NRA Western Tooled Belts."
Much like the NRA store's 9-11 fundraising effort the recent email shows real-life images of fiery explosions seen by millions of Americans above advertisements for NRA branded mugs, clothing and other various trinkets.
During a recent interview with National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, Glenn Beck wondered if the NRA would be able to raise the money to effectively launch political attacks against President Obama in 2012. Not surprisingly, LaPierre was confident the NRA would be able to fund a 2012 campaign blitz. Depicting unions as a political counter weight to the gun lobby, Beck asked LaPierre how the NRA could hope to match campaign spending by unions:
BECK: You have to go out and drum up the money, the unions just take it. They just have it. They just take it out of everybody's paycheck.
LAPIERRE: We raise it all through 5, 10, 15, 20 dollar contributions that Americans are willing to preserve freedom. And they're willing to support it. But, you know, that's what NRA is about. I mean, I always say we're about our membership and we're about giving voice to our membership.
There's no doubt that as in previous election cycles, the NRA will be able to funnel tens of millions of dollars towards their favored candidates, but LaPierre's claim that the NRA's fundraising is based exclusively on small dollar donations is false. The reality is that under LaPierre's leadership, the NRA has built extensive financial ties to the gun industry and other corporations. These arrangements have netted the NRA tens of millions dollars according to a recent Bloomberg News account and the gun companies funneling cash into the NRA's coffers have greatly benefited from the NRA's lobbying efforts. One former president of the NRA credited NRA-backed legislation that limited the legal liability of gun makers with saving "the American gun industry from bankruptcy."
The NRA pitches itself as a low-dollar, grassroots organization -- an annual membership currently costs $35 -- and maintains it is "not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition." However, the NRA has formally established many lucrative arrangements with "corporate partners."
Last April, the Violence Policy Center issued a report, titled Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bank Rolls the NRA, which details these intimate ties between the gun industry and the NRA. From Blood Money:
Since 2005, corporations--gun related and other--have contributed between $19.8 million and $52.6 million to the NRA as detailed in its Ring of Freedom corporate giving program. In a promotional brochure for the program, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre promises that the "National Rifle Association's newly expanded Corporate Partners Program is an opportunity for corporations to partner with the NRA....This program is geared toward your company's corporate interests."
In his January 9 Washington Times column titled, "Diversity perversity: Behind multicultural push is effort to degrade American culture," National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent wrote: "The left's definition of diversity does not make America stronger. It is weakening and destroying America... The left's version of diversity is repugnant." Nugent went on to add that "[t]he left's version of diversity is social, cultural, economic and ethnic rot. Believe it." From the Times:
Diversity is America's greatest strength, according to the left and its socialist, Marxist, commie cohorts and co-conspirators running rampant across the country.
If you listen carefully to these America-hating, social-engineering liberals, virtually all behavior, conduct, morals and beliefs make America stronger.
This, of course, is toxic, brain-dead logic that leaves ordinary Americans shaking and scratching their heads in confusion and disgust. We recognize bull dung when we hear, see and smell it, and we have no desire whatsoever to embrace it.
The left's definition of diversity does not make America stronger. It is weakening and destroying America. Let's be bold and honest: The left's version of diversity is repugnant.
It will be a cold day in hell before I embrace voodoolike religions and unclean stone-age cultures that retard progress instead of advancing it.
The real issue is that by forcing diversity and multicultural nonsense in our workplaces, schools and government agencies on people who still cherish common sense and traditional American values, we're ripping the nation apart.
Real diversity, real change, real progress is accomplished by promoting and embracing Western culture, values and traditions, which is what made America great and created the greatest quality of life ever. Weakening this proven methodology under the artful guise of diversity, multiculturalism and political correctness is every bit as insidious a threat to America as are voodoo-inspired terrorist punks.
The left's version of diversity is social, cultural, economic and ethnic rot. Believe it.
Back in September, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre drew ridicule after claiming the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to take no action on gun control in his first term, get reelected, and then "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights."
What the "Obama not coming after your guns is really evidence of his desire to come after your guns" thesis lacks in accuracy or logic it makes up for in convenience. The NRA's "massive Obama conspiracy" justifies the need to help them raise contributions and encourage people to buy more guns.
It's no surprise the NRA's election year message is starting to spread to their faithful allies at Fox.
During a segment last night on Fox Business' Follow the Money, guests Bo Dietl and Lars Larson agreed that the reason gun sales have supposedly seen a "dramatic increase" is because of this fear that if Obama is re-elected "they're going to go after your guns." Of course, since gun manufacturers heavily contribute to the NRA, this fear helps the organization as well.
Former National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Ray Arnet once said, "You keep any special interest group alive by nurturing the crisis atmosphere." The organization has long taken this sentiment to heart. For years, the NRA has warned that nationwide gun bans and confiscation were right around the corner. These threats made up in hysterical rhetoric for what they lacked in credibility.
Arnet's comments demonstrate why the organization has adopted such a dishonest strategy. To sustain its $200-million-plus annual budget, the organization relies upon donations from both its members and the gun industry; constant fearmongering boosts donations from both. By working their members into a frenzy, they can better convince them to financially support the NRA and thus stave off that dark future.
The effort also encourages existing gun owners to purchase more firearms in case such laws are actually passed; new sales to current gun owners are essential to the gun industry given that the number of households owning a gun is in long term decline. Terrifying gun owners bolsters gun sales, which in turn keeps the gun industry profitable enough to direct more funds back to the NRA.
But sometimes, your run-of-the-mill fearmongering just isn't enough. In 2011 the NRA repeatedly turned to one of their favorite weapons to keep alive this crisis atmosphere justifying their extremist political agenda and their own existence: conspiracy theories. Below, Media Matters documents a few of our favorites of the year.
It seems that this year's effort to wage war against Christmas will be better armed than usual.
The National Rifle Association's website is currently featuring a "Happy Holidays" message from NRA radio hosts Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone and "the entire NRA News team."
This follows an email fundraising missive from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox, who offered his "best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season" before asking for donations to stop "four more years of President Barack Obama imposing his anti-freedom values on the American people."
In his December 16 Washington Times column, Ted Nugent wrote that "[b]eing poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly decision," and that "we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better." From the Times:
Being poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly, decision. If you decide to drop out of school, fail to learn a skill, have no work ethic or get divorced, a life of poverty is often the consequence. The children of parents who choose a life of poverty quite often pay a horrible price, and so does all of America.
Poverty rates among college graduates, those who learn a trade or skill and parents who stay married are much lower than the rates among those who choose opposite paths. As author William J. Bennett pointed out a number of years ago in his book "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators," children of single parents are much more likely to be involved in crime and premarital sex, to drop out of school and to get involved with drugs. Ugly and uncomfortable as that may be, it's the truth.
The question is: What to do about lowering the poverty rate?
First, we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available for people who choose it. That will be good for kids.
Second, we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better. This, too, may be ugly and uncomfortable, but we must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.
When National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre isn't pontificating about the purported "massive Obama conspiracy," there's a decent chance he's hurling personal insults and employing other types of overheated rhetoric in pursuit of his political agenda. Some of LaPierre's greatest hits:
LaPierre is free to say whatever he wants, but do the media really have to cover his comments? According to the Media Research Center (MRC), the answer yes, even when the NRA doesn't bother to the return its calls.
This morning, the MRC blog NewsBusters posted a critique of Reuters' coverage of a recent investigation of online guns sales by New York City that showed that many private sellers were willing to sell guns to people who identified themselves as unable to pass a background check.
MRC complained there was insufficient gun lobby criticism of Bloomberg in the article:
The next big misstep in this article is its one-sentence dismissal of Bloomberg critics. "The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study."
MRC's message to the media: Print overheated NRA talking points whether or not the NRA gets around to giving you a comment before your deadline.
What should Reuters have done according MRC? Dig through the NRA's website and find the most recently available blog posts written about Bloomberg's efforts with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The blog posts the MRC identifies as appropriate representations of the NRA's views were written before the online gun sale investigation was announced, so naturally, they weren't responsive to the topic of the article.
The first of the two blog posts MRC suggests could have been represented in the Reuters report includes LaPierre's suggestion that Bloomberg could aptly be viewed as a "petty tyrant." The MRC:
In the first post, which deals with an earlier anti-gun address Bloomberg gave to students at MIT, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre made the observation that "Bloomberg should also remember that a 'ruler' (which is what he seems to think he is) that denies the people of their Right to Keep and Bear Arms while maintaining a large 'army' (the NYPD) is apt to be viewed as a petty tyrant, not a benevolent and wise leader."
The second post highlighted by the MRC suggested that by opposing the NRA's favored legislation, Mayors Against Illegal Guns was engaging in a "shameful attack on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans".
LaPierre's history of demonizing those who disagree with him might well deserve more media attention than it gets, but it's hardly essential context for a news report documenting the ease with which criminals can get guns online.
In his December 14 Washington Times column titled, "Occupy stooges on parade: It's fun watching Democrats getting hauled off to jail," Ted Nugent wrote about the "hearty laugh[s]" he had after "watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles." Nugent, and NRA board member, went on to say that this was "good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor." From the Times:
While I don't condone violence, watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles is good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor. Everyone needs at least one hearty laugh every day.
You have to admit that watching a stinky, dirty hippie being dragged off to jail is as funny watching James Brown drive across railroad tracks on the rims of his pickup truck, listening to Joe Biden stick his foot in his mouth, or watching Moe hit Larry and Curly with a pipe wrench. This is funny stuff, funny stuff. Lighten up.
This morning, the right-wing Daily Caller announced the launch of a new website section called Guns and Gear. According to their press release, "The section will include everything from the latest news about armed citizens defending themselves and their property, to coverage of Second Amendment policies and politics, to reviews of the latest guns and gear."
Publisher Neil Patel is quoted in the release saying that "The millions of Americans who own and are interested in guns are currently without the sort of daily news coverage that is allotted to most other American interests." But if the section's current content is any guide, the Caller has decided that the best way to provide this "daily news coverage" is to republish articles and press releases directly from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Take a look:
The top of the web page currently features one op-ed from top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox; links to three previous Cox columns; a reposted November NRA press release highlighting "Twelve Big Wins for Gun Owners"; and a gun review from the NRA publication Shooting Illustrated. Oh, and two ads for the NRA; apparently purported news outlets can make money republishing content from interest groups.
Further down the section, readers find additional republished NRA press releases, more Cox op-eds, more NRA web ads, and reposted articles from NRA publications American Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated, and American Rifleman. There are currently only seven pieces of content on the section's front page labeled as coming from The Daily Caller. Of those, three are articles that were originally published at Human Events and three are sets of links to gun manufacturers, state gun clubs, and gun owner manuals. The last is an article headlined "The War on Christmas."
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the Caller has apparently decided to rely on the gun lobby for its "daily news coverage" of gun issues. The press release lists Mike Piccione as the section's editor, with editor in chief Tucker Carlson stating, "Mike Piccione knows more about firearms and self-defense than anyone in journalism. We're grateful to have him editing this new section." According to his Human Events bio, where he worked as editor of the newsletter Guns & Patriots, Piccione is "a NRA Marketing Manager."
For most publications, this kind of ethical cesspool would lead to apologies, internal debates about standards, and some soul-searching. At the Caller, it's just another Wednesday.
Daily Caller "reporter" Matthew Boyle's emerging second career as a gun lobby lackey is clearly on the fast track, judging from his recent coverage of Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Having used his platform to amplify seemingly every Republican line of questioning asked to Holder about the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious, Boyle found time on NRA Radio to attack Rep. Hank Johnson's (D-GA) questioning at the hearing.
Not surprisingly given his embarrassing disregard for the facts, Boyle completely ignored the well-established factual basis of Rep. Johnson's questioning and even went so far as to smear Rep. Johnson with the false suggestion that he "played the race card".
Before asking about the gun lobby's role in blocking a permanent director of the ATF, Rep. Johnson asked Holder about the 'gun show loophole' and how many guns from gun shows had fallen into the hands of dangerous people (from Nexis):
JOHNSON: It's about 2,000 [guns trafficked through Fast and Furious]? Now, how many firearms are sold to Al Qaida terrorists, to other convicted felons, to domestic violence perpetrators, to convicted felons, to white supremacists?
Do you think the NRA and other Second Amendment rights radicals have -- have confidence that the U.S. will not have a competent ATF head if the Senate continues to deny a leader for that organization, thus rendering it rudderless? Is that -- is politics causing that, do you think?
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) later seized on the Johnson's use of the term "radicals" to suggest he was attacking the NRA's entire membership. Boyle dutifully wrote up an article uncritically echoing Issa's complaints. Speaking during the latest of what appear to be daily appearances with NRA News, Boyle bizarrely threw out the suggestion that Johnson's comments represented playing the "race card":