Author Page | Media Matters for America

Timothy Johnson

Author ››› Timothy Johnson
  • President Donald Trump runs with conservative media’s horrible idea of arming teachers

    Even the NRA used to have a “zero tolerance” position against arming teachers

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    President Donald Trump is pushing a fringe idea to arm school teachers that has been promoted by conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

    Trump made the proposal during a February 22 meeting at the White House, suggesting that armed teachers could receive a pay bonus. He also defended the idea on Twitter, promising that it would end attacks at schools:

    Trump continued to push armed teachers during his speech at CPAC: 

    According to NBC News, “Gun violence experts, educators, and school safety advocates immediately panned the idea.”

    Trump’s outrageous proposal has its roots in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. After that attack, conservative media figures increasingly began pushing the idea of arming teachers, and the proposal was also backed in a post-Sandy Hook report issued by the NRA. The push to arm teachers has come full circle, with conservative media now celebrating the president’s adoption of their idea.

    There is no evidence that arming teachers will stop school shootings. Even the NRA used to acknowledge this fact. After the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre gave a speech at the gun group’s annual meeting where he said, “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period ... with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.”

    Even armed individuals with extensive firearms training have failed to stop school shootings. In the case of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, an armed deputy present at the school took a defensive position outside the building where the shooting was taking place and never went inside to confront the gunman, contrary to  department policies. At Columbine, an armed police officer present at the high school attempted to fire on one of the shooters, but was quickly pinned down by the greater firepower of the shooter's assault weapon. Jeanne Assam, a retired police officer who did actually stop a gun rampage at a Colorado church in 2007, has rejected the notion of arming teachers, telling CNN in 2012 that “a teacher wants to be a teacher. He or she doesn't want to be a police officer” before concluding that the proposal is “ridiculous.”

    Proposals to arm teachers do not appreciate the reality of the highly chaotic scene an active shooter incident creates. According to the Violence Policy Center, research has shown that “trained law enforcement officials have only an average 20 percent hit ratio in armed confrontations, meaning that only 20 percent of shots fired hit the intended target.”

    Some states already allow teachers to carry guns, although it’s unclear whether the educators widely adopt the practice. But when armed teachers make headlines, it is not for stopping school shooters. As HuffPost noted:

    In September 2014 at Idaho State University, a teacher accidentally shot himself in the foot when his concealed handgun discharged. Students in the chemistry class watched.

    Later that month at a Utah elementary school, a teacher carrying a concealed weapon accidentally shot herself in the leg as she used the restroom.

    In 2016, a group of elementary school students in Pennsylvania found a loaded gun in the bathroom after a teacher accidentally left it behind.

    In general, the presence of firearms makes people less safe. Research has demonstrated time and time again that keeping a gun in the home increases the risk of homicide, suicide, and unintentional shootings. The concealed carry of firearms -- which conservative media claim without evidence to be a solution to mass public shootings -- also makes people less safe. Instead of preventing crime, laws allowing permissive gun carry increase violent crime and are particularly associated with aggravated assault.

    In addition to carrying out their teaching responsibilities, teachers, if armed, would be tasked with preventing students from accessing their firearm. As Lily Eskelsen García, president of National Education Association, explained in a statement opposing Trump’s proposal, “Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators.” And as Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted, “We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.”

  • The NRA’s new talking point about background checks is bullshit

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) leadership has broken its silence following last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Comments made by its leadership at CNN’s February 21 town hall on gun violence and during speeches at CPAC indicate that the NRA is coalescing around a misleading talking point that attacks the national background check system for gun purchases.

    Three different times during a 24 hour period, NRA leadership bemoaned that states are not required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system:

    • At CNN’s town hall, NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch said, “We had three lawmakers on this stage and only one of them hinted at reinforcing the background check system. It is only as good as the records submitted to it. Only one of them even got anywhere close to mentioning that. We have to have more than 38 states submit records.” Loesch also asked Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez, “Do you know that it is not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers?”

    • Loesch used the talking point again during her February 22 speech at CPAC, saying, “I want you to all ask yourselves, where are the stories about how only 38 states submit less than 80 percent of criminal convictions to the background checks system. It’s only as good as what’s submitted to it. How many of you knew that? No. Why isn’t [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] calling for that? I have to question whether or not they want this system to fail.”

    • NRA CEO LaPierre hit the same point to attack the press during his speech, saying, “No one gets ratings by telling the truth about how to stop mass killers. So they don’t report that 38 states submit less than 80 percent of their felony convictions to the system, leaving more than 7 million felony convictions in the dark.”

    There’s one major problem with this talking point: The NRA’s actions are the reason states can’t be required to submit disqualifying records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    During the 1990s, the NRA backed a lawsuit Printz v. United States that sought to block the implementation of NICS, which was created by the 1993 Brady Bill.  

    While the system eventually went into effect, the outcome of Printz damaged its effectiveness, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in favor of the NRA’s argument that requiring states to perform background checks for a federal system violated the 10th Amendment.

    The ruling also had implications on whether states can be required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence explains, “Federal law cannot require states to make information identifying people ineligible to possess firearms available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks” because “case law suggests that a federal statute requiring states to disclose records to the FBI would violate the Tenth Amendment” due to the Printz ruling.

    As a result of this state of affairs, all Congress can do is encourage states to submit records using a carrot-and-stick system that provides incentives and disincentives for states to submit records.

    In Loesch’s CPAC comments, she asked “Why isn’t Dianne Feinstein calling for” more records to be put in the system. In fact, Feinstein is the co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would further incentivize states to provide records into the system.

    LaPierre revived the NRA’s past claim today at CPAC that the NRA should be credited for the creation of NICS. But the reality is that when the law was being considered as legislation, the group tried to stymie it at every turn, and once it was enacted attempted to sue it out of existence.

  • NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch lied to Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a simple question for National Rifle Association (NRA) national spokesperson Dana Loesch during CNN’s gun violence town hall: “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic ... weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?”

    Instead of providing the NRA’s well established positions on these questions, Loesch gave a series of dishonest explanations that sought to hide the NRA’s fringe absolutism against gun regulation.

    After some niceties, Loesch purported to answer Gonzalez's question by saying, “I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever. I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any kind of weapon. That's number one.”

    According to Loesch, “This individual was nuts and I, nor the millions of people that I represent as a part of this organization, that I'm here speaking for, none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.”

    Loesch was lying.

    The NRA opposes adding prohibiting categories to the gun background check system that could have included the Stoneman Douglas gunman. As the NRA’s website states, “NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms.” It also opposes a policy called a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” or a “Red Flag” law that has been widely cited as a policy that could have stopped the gunman from having access to firearms. These laws allow family members and law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily remove people’s access to firearms who are a danger to themselves or others.

    Loesch’s dishonesty didn’t stop with that claim. Moments later, while talking about the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Loesch said, “It is not federal law for states to report convictions to the NICS system. It's not federally mandated.” Loesch also argued that the states can convict a person, they "can adjudicate the mentally unfit," but "if a state does not report it to the National Crime Information Center, when you run that form, this individual -- this madman passed a background check." (NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre also used this talking point in his February 22 speech at CPAC.)

    What Loesch failed to mention is that states can’t be required to report disqualifying records because of the outcome of a 1997 NRA-backed lawsuit Printz v. United States.

    The lawsuit was the NRA’s attempt to invalidate the entire national background check system in court before it could be implemented. While the system eventually went into effect, the outcome of Printz damaged its effectiveness, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in favor of the NRA’s argument that requiring states to perform background checks for a federal system violated the 10th Amendment.

    The ruling also had implications on whether states can be required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence explains, “Federal law cannot require states to make information identifying people ineligible to possess firearms available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks” because “case law suggests that a federal statute requiring states to disclose records to the FBI would violate the Tenth Amendment” due to the Printz ruling.

    So far, none of Loesch’s answers were actually about semi-automatic weapons or bump stocks. Gonzalez then interceded to say, “I think I'm gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually, do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?”

    Loesch didn’t mention semi-automatic weapons, but offered some muddled comments about bump stocks and said, “So, that answers your question.” (The organization has a deceitful position on the issue that decreases the chances they will be eventually banned.)

    The NRA had a responsibility to offer straightforward, honest statements about gun policy at CNN’s gun violence town hall, but instead what Loesch offered were lies and spin.

  • Here’s who the National Rifle Association is choosing to represent it at a CNN gun violence town hall

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & CYDNEY HARGIS

    On February 21, CNN will host a town hall on gun violence set to include a wide spectrum of people affected by the Parkland, FL, school shooting. The National Rifle Association was invited to participate and chose to send its national spokesperson, Dana Loesch, to join "students, parents and community members" at the event, breaking with its decision to not participate in a similar 2016 CNN town hall. The NRA’s decision to send Loesch, who is also a far-right conservative commentator with a long history of inflammatory rhetoric, to represent the organization in a town hall discussion about gun safety and legislation that includes survivors of a mass school shooting, clearly demonstrates the extremist, fringe views the NRA has embraced to advance its cause.

  • The NRA was tasked with preventing the next Newtown. Instead, it helped train the Florida school shooter.

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    NRA Foundation -- the National Rifle Association subsidiary responsible for the group’s school safety initiative -- helped fund the marksmanship training of the gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, this week.

    The Associated Press reports that the NRA Foundation gave a $10,827 grant to an air rifle program that gunman Nikolas Cruz participated in. According to one of his teammates, Cruz was a “very good shot.” The NRA Foundation’s website says it has “awarded nearly $335 million in grant funding in support of the shooting sports” since 1990.

    The NRA Foundation -- the “charitable” wing of the NRA --  is also where your money goes if you donate to an NRA program called “National School Shield,” the gun group’s purported solution to school shootings.

    National School Shield was first mentioned in December 2012 during a speech by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre a week after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. When the program debuted in April 2013, NRA spokesperson (and current Arkansas governor) Asa Hutchinson claimed its findings were “independent” from the NRA. The program pushes more guns in schools, including arming teachers, and has been touted by the NRA’s media arm in the wake of the latest school shooting.

    Despite the claims of independence, National School Shield’s domain was registered by the NRA five days after Newtown:

    The National School Shield website currently  solicits donations for NRA Foundation with the tagline, “If We Truly Cherish Our Kids, We Must Give Them The Greatest Level Of Protection Possible”:

    At the bottom of the donation page, the website says, “Thank you for supporting The NRA Foundation and the future of our firearms heritage.”

    A disclosure provided on the website explains that the “NRA will receive 100% of the gross revenue generated by this solicitation,” and that “contributions raised will be used to advance the mission of the NRA.”         

    The NRA Foundation was supposed to prevent future school shootings. Instead, it helped fund the training for the latest school shooter.

  • 8 ridiculous NRA defenses of the AR-15

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In the wake of yet another massacre carried out with an AR-15 assault weapon, here are eight ridiculous defenses of the murder machine from the National Rifle Association (NRA), a major recipient of donations from assault weapons makers:

    1. Banning assault weapons is like racial discrimination

    Discussing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) bill to ban assault weapons following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, past NRA president and current NRA board member Marion Hammer said, “Banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again: the color of a gun, the way it looks. It's just bad politics.”

    2. The NRA put on demonstrations of the AR-15 that downplayed the weapon’s capabilities by highlighting how it makes smaller bullet holes than some other guns​

    In 2013, the NRA held two AR-15 demonstrations at the shooting range it has at its national headquarters, one for Fox News show Hannity and the other for its own media outlet, then called NRA News. Each demonstration dishonestly highlighted the small bullet hole the weapon makes compared to some other guns in order to to downplay the weapon’s lethality. In fact, the AR-15 inflicts grievous harm on human bodies, even in comparison to other commonly owned firearms.

    3. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was carried out with handguns (it was carried out with an AR-15)

    Months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, NRA board member Ted Nugent cited a conspiracy theory surrounding the tragedy to claim that “no so-called assault weapon was used in the grisly murders of the children and teachers in Newton,” but that instead “NBC has reported the butcher used four handguns.” The day after the shooting NBC had reported that only handguns were recovered at the site, but corrected its reporting the same day. The weapon used in the attack was an AR-15 manufactured by NRA donor Bushmaster.

    4. Blaming AR-15 manufacturer Bushmaster for Sandy Hook is like “blaming Kleenex for the flu​"

    Then-NRA News commentator Natalie Foster made the claim in a 2014 video released by the NRA:

    5. If the Founding Fathers had foreseen the invention of the AR-15, they would have “fortified” the Second Amendment “in stone”

    Days after a gunman used an AR-15 to massacre churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, TX, (and weeks after a gunman used assault weapons to carry out a massacre in Las Vegas), the NRA released a video that encouraged people to buy more AR-15 weapons. NRATV commentator Dom Raso said in the video, “I guarantee if the Founding Fathers had known this gun would have been invented, they wouldn't have rewritten the Second Amendment -- they would've fortified it in stone. Because they knew the only way for us to stay free was by having whatever guns the bad guys have.”

    6. The AR-15 is “easy to learn, and easy to use. It’s accurate, it’s reliable” and more people should buy it as protection from terrorists

    The NRA released another video days after the Pulse nightclub shooting also narrated by Raso. The video made a number of arguments praising the abilities of the AR-15: “It’s easy to learn, and easy to use. It’s accurate, it’s reliable." All these characteristics also inadvertently explained how the Pulse gunman was able to kill and wound so many people in a short period of time:

    7. The AR-15 as a good defense against the government

    On June 15, 2017, one day after Rep. Steve. Scalise (R-LA) was shot and others were wounded in a mass shooting, then-NRATV commentator Bill Whittle said, “I personally think it is a mistake for people to say [the AR-15] is used for hunting, or it's used for target shooting. I have my AR-15 to kill people.” Whittle added, “I am not worried about a deer breaking into my house at 4 o’clock in the morning and coming through the window and maybe murdering me or raping my wife, or anything. I am not worried so much about a coalition of deer marching people into extermination camps.”

    He also added, “My weapons are here to defend me against my government.”

    (Whittle left NRATV in September 2017. He was recently uninvited to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for an Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate after his history of making racist comments was raised.)

    8. Regulating the AR-15 “is a war on women”

    During a discussion of assault weapons days after the Pulse massacre, Dana Loesch appeared on Fox News to claim proposals to regulate the AR-15 were “about disarming women” and were a “war on women.” Earlier that day the NRA had announced Loesch had been hired to be the group’s “Special Adviser on Women’s Policy.” She is now the NRA’s national spokesperson.

  • Maker of assault weapon used in Florida school shooting has donated over $1,000,000 to the NRA

    Smith & Wesson also sponsors NRATV’s NRA Women

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The assault weapon used during the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, was a Smith & Wesson M&P15 .223, according to a report by the Associated Press.

    Smith & Wesson is a major donor to the National Rifle Association, which has lobbied against efforts to ban the M&P15 and other assault weapons.

    The NRA profiled Smith & Wesson’s CEO James Debney on its website, writing that “he and the company he leads have not only joined the ranks of the National Rifle Association’s premier donor recognition program, the NRA Ring of Freedom, but have ascended to its upper echelon, the Golden Ring of Freedom, with gifts well in excess of $1 million.” The profile praises Debney’s business acumen, including noting that Debney attributed an increase in net sales during the first quarter of 2013 “to strong sales of the M&P product line.”

    Smith & Wesson also sponsors programming geared toward women on the NRA’s media outlet NRATV:

    The M&P15 was also used in a 2012 massacre at an Aurora, CO, movie theater and the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA.

  • Why is The New York Times publishing discredited gun researcher John Lott?

    Lott’s Times op-ed makes easily disprovable attacks on the national background check system for gun purchases

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The New York Times published an opinion piece by discredited economist John Lott that made false claims about the national background check system for gun purchases and cited a survey that fact-checkers have criticized as unscientific.

    Lott is a well-known pro-gun advocate and frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence and other topics. He rose to prominence during the 1990s with the publication of his book More Guns, Less Crime, although his conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research. He has also faced accusations of data manipulation and fabrication in order to advance a pro-gun agenda.

    Just last week, Lott made headlines after a paper he published claiming undocumented immigrants in Arizona “are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans” was debunked by the libertarian Cato Institute. As Cato immigration expert Alex Nowrasteh explained, “Lott’s controversial empirical findings regarding the high admission rate of illegal immigrants to Arizona prisons, a finding that contradicts virtually the entire body of research on the topic, stems from his simple misreading of a variable in the 1985-2017 [Arizona Department of Corrections] dataset. Lott thought that ‘non-U.S. citizens and deportable’ describes only illegal immigrants but it does not.”

    In his op-ed for the Times, Lott misrepresented data to attack proposals to expand background checks on gun sales to include private sales -- which constitute a substantial proportion of gun transfers -- by falsely suggesting that the system is broken because of “false positives” that deny legal gun owners the ability to purchase a firearm.

    In his piece, Lott wrote:

    Between 2006 to 2010, the last period for which more comprehensive annual data on the denial of firearm applications by the background check system are available, there were 377,283 denials. But the federal government prosecuted only 460 of those cases, leading to 209 convictions, mostly on charges of providing false information. There was a similarly small number of state prosecutions resulting from the gun purchase denials.

    This data led Lott to conclude that “a high percentage of cases are dropped because the applicant was wrongly denied clearance to buy a gun.” Despite Lott’s repeated touting of this talking point, it is false because it relies on the incorrect assumption that the federal government actually routinely prosecutes people who fail a background check when attempting to purchase a gun.

    A comprehensive analysis from The Washington Post suggests that the vast majority of individuals denied by the background check system are actually legally prohibited from buying a gun. The FBI, which in 2010 was responsible for approximately half of all denials, reported that less than five percent of denials were successfully appealed. The primary reasons for denial were a felony conviction or indictment (47.4 percent) or status as a fugitive (19.1 percent).

    In his Times op-ed, Lott also made the false claim that permissive laws allowing guns to be carried in public are a benefit to public safety. (Credible research indicates these laws actually increase violent crime, in particular aggravated assault.) To support his claim, Lott wrote, “In 2013, PoliceOne, a news and resource site for active and retired law enforcement officers, released a survey finding that over 91 percent of the more than 15,000 ‘verified law enforcement professionals’ who responded supported concealed carry.”

    The 2013 PoliceOne survey was criticized by fact checkers after the National Rifle Association used it to push a false pro-gun talking point, with FactCheck.org concluding “The survey wasn’t a scientific poll that aimed to gather responses from a random sample of the nation’s police officers. Rather, it was a self-selected Internet poll, in which more than 15,000 of PoliceOne.com’s 400,000 registered members chose to respond, either because of email solicitation or a link to the survey on the PoliceOne.com website.”

    Last month, The Times published a glowing profile of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch with the paper terming her a “telegenic warrior” despite criticism that Loesch has used her NRA role to incite violence against journalists and critics of the president. The Times’ acceptance of Lott’s opinion piece is another indication of how much the paper is willing to kowtow to pro-gun activists, no matter how extreme or false their claims are.

  • Alex Jones blamed the Finsbury Park attack on Muslims. It was actually inspired by one of his regular guests.

    Trial proceedings against the accused Finsbury Park attacker reveal he was motivated by the anti-Muslim commentary of extremist Tommy Robinson

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During the early morning of June 19, 2017, a man drove a 3.5 ton van into a crowd in Finsbury Park, London. The attacker targeted worshippers leaving the nearby Muslim Welfare House mosque after finishing evening prayers. One man was killed and 10 others were injured. The driver of the van reportedly shouted that he wanted to "kill all Muslims" before being arrested.

    As the first details of the attack emerged, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was hosting a special edition live broadcast of his show to coincide with the airing of Megyn Kelly’s controversial interview of Jones for her short-lived Sunday night NBC show. Guest co-host Mike Cernovich first mentioned the incident, saying, “Looks like some kind of van attack in London, so there might be more breaking news.” Jones responded sarcastically saying, “Well, that’s not Muslims. Muslims never do anything wrong.”

    Moments later Cernovich returned to the attack saying, “Breaking news: Man arrested after van plows into people outside of a London mosque.” Jones again reacted sarcastically, saying, “But it has nothing to do with Islam, right, Cernovich?” and said, “Then they say we’re anti-Islam. Yeah, I’m anti-Stone Age insanity, women wearing beekeeper suits.” Cernovich and Jones then went on an anti-Muslim diatribe that included Jones commenting that “Muslims are allowed to rape because it’s their culture, but then if a woman gets drunk and has sex, oh you date-raped her.” 

    The driver of the van, Darren Osborne, is now on trial. Proceedings have indicated that Osborne was radicalized in a matter of weeks as he became obsessed with the commentary of Tommy Robinson, a former leader of the violent anti-Muslim hate group English Defence League, Rebel Media employee, and frequent guest of Alex Jones.

    According to English law enforcement, Osborne “became radicalised in just three to four weeks, as evidence from devices he used show him reading posts by the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, far-right group Britain First and other extremists.” Osborne’s partner testified that Osborne was “brainwashed” by Robinson and others and said, “Darren has been watching a lot of Tommy Robinson stuff on the internet. I have pleaded with Darren to stop watching this sort of thing, but he just wouldn’t stop.”

    The Independent reported that Osborne began consuming anti-Muslim material in the weeks before the attack from a variety of sources before zeroing in on Robinson and joining his email list. According to the Independent, “After picking up the van, Osborne started an intense bout of online activity, repeatedly searching Mr Robinson’s name and viewing his tweets alongside derogatory articles on Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn for more than two hours.” During testimony at the trial, Osborne admitted that he hoped to kill Khan, London’s mayor, and Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party.

    Robinson is a frequent guest and topic of conversation on Jones’ program. In fact, hours after the attack, on June 19, 2017, Jones hosted Infowars Editor-at-Large Paul Joseph Watson and the two downplayed the attack and offered a preemptive defense of Robinson. Watson predicted that “leftists” would probably “go after” Robinson in reaction to the attack. Jones said, “We should get Tommy Robinson on. He’s never done anything violent, he’s done nothing wrong.” (While Robinson was criticized in the wake of the attack, the fact that the attacker was an avid consumer of his commentary wasn’t reported until January 2018.)

    According to a search of Jones’ YouTube channel, in the past several years, Robinson has made frequent remote appearances on Jones show -- he has previously been refused entry to the U.S. -- to spread anti-Muslim hate. Robinson was on Jones’ show as recently as February 7, where he and Jones smeared Muslims as massively inbred.

    Jones’ channel has promoted Robinson's appearances with titles like “Tommy Robinson’s Desperate Emergency Warning of Impending Islamic Takeover” and “Tommy Robinson: After Manchester Bombing, Muslims Claim They Have Nothing To Be Sorry For.”

    During the intro of a video with the title “If The UK Continues To Fail Its Citizens English Men Will Take The Law Into Their Own Hands,” Robinson encouraged people to act extrajudicially against what he saw as the threat of Muslims, saying, “The situation in France -- I think England will be different. I can see a point when English men are going to react, and react en masse. I’d say by the phone calls I’ve been receiving all week that they’re pushing the point closer all ready. I don’t see any -- we have no -- there is no reasonable solution to this. … So to get through this and to bring the change we need there’s going to be chaos either way.” That video was posted on June 6, 2017 -- 13 days before the Finsbury Park attack. 

  • Cable news devoted scant coverage to fatal Kentucky high school rampage

    16 students were shot. Cable news covered the story for 16 minutes on Tuesday.

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A deadly shooting rampage at a Kentucky high school that left two students dead and 18 others wounded received minimal coverage on cable news the day of the shooting.

    Marshall County High School in Benton, KY, was the site of the nation’s 11th school shooting in 2018 after a 15-year-old student opened fire with a handgun the morning of January 23. Students Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both age 15, were killed and 14 other people were shot. Four other people were injured escaping the attack. The Courier Journal reports that all the victims were students. The suspected shooter was taken into custody.

    The January 23 broadcasts of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC covered the shooting for a total of just over 16 minutes, including headlines and teasers. CNN gave the most coverage to the story with just over 10 minutes, Fox News followed with five minutes of coverage, and MSNBC covered the shooting for just over a minute.

    The Marshall County High School shooting was the third shooting incident at a U.S. school over a two-day period. The Trace reported that shootings took place at a high school in Texas and a charter school in Louisiana on January 22.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for “Kentucky” OR “shoot*” OR “shot*” OR “Bailey Holt” OR “Preston Cope” OR “Marshall County High School” on January 23 for the networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. All mentions of the shooting were timed, including teasers, headlines, and full segments.

    Rob Savillo, Lis Power, and Cydney Hargis contributed research to this study.