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  • Paid actors, a fake publicist, and retweeted bots: Trump habitually uses deceit and propaganda to shape perceptions

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s Twitter habits help shape the media and public narrative about his administration, which is why his record of retweeting and quote-tweeting accounts with suspicious bot or sock-puppet activity raises concerns.

    A Media Matters study of an archive of Trump’s Twitter account revealed that over the past year, Trump has on a handful of occasions propped up praise from accounts that feature suspicious bot activity or that have since been suspended or deactivated. If he’s unintentionally promoting bots, it shows gullibility and a lack of basic due diligence on his part that is terrifying in someone as powerful as the president. And if he’s promoting such tweets intentionally, that shows how shamelessly Trump resorts to propaganda in an effort to bolster his image, set narratives, distract the public from damaging news, spin stories in his favor, and provide talking points for far-right media networks with no regard for reality.

    Trump’s history of using deceit to manipulate the media and project self-advantageous messages indicates that there’s perhaps nothing accidental about his tendency to retweet bots. For three decades, starting in the 1970s, Trump infamously pretended to be a fictional publicist named John Miller and used that pseudonym to plant pro-Trump stories in the media. In June 2015, Trump paid actors to cheer for him during his announcement that he would run for president, during which he called Mexican immigrants rapists. Trump has said that he retweets for a reason and that the retweets are an endorsement “to a certain extent.” This doesn’t leave much room to question the intentionality behind his insidious strategy.

    Automated social media accounts are said to have played a role in the 2016 presidential election, an issue that the Senate is still investigating. During Trump’s campaign, his digital operations -- many aspects of which were manned by the recently reinstated head of Breitbart.com Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica and Jared Kushner’s and Brad Parscale's Project Alamo -- focused on building a loyal audience that was mostly isolated from anti-Trump narratives and was predisposed to distrusting the press and any unfavorable media coverage. For this loyal audience, Trump’s retweets of praiseful bot or sock-puppet accounts reinforce what they already feel; it's like reading the positive blurbs of a book they know they like. So they enthusiastically endorse him by retweeting them, thus becoming important magnifiers in the propaganda loop.

    Even when he’s not retweeting bots, Trump has provided a platform to right-wing media trolls via his retweets, regaling them with a veneer of legitimacy that eclipses their awful records of propagating conspiracy theories, engaging in attention-grabbing stunts, and leading their followers in harassment campaigns against journalists. Others in Trump’s orbit have taken a similar approach on social media, as evidenced by Dan Scavino, Trump’s social media director, who has access to Trump’s account. Scavino has repeatedly used his own account to smear and attack Trump’s political and media opponents. In one instance, he violated the Hatch Act by engaging in political activity as a federal employee.

    While Trump’s Twitter habits provide entertaining fodder and endless material for headlines, they should also give some insight into the terrifying -- yet transparent -- ways the administration is manipulating reality. And this manipulation is consistent with the way Trump has consistently drawn on chicanery to shape perceptions about him.

  • News outlets shouldn’t sugarcoat Trump’s calls for violence and hate

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH, MILES LE, SARAH WASKO & JOHN KERR

    The president of the United States regularly incites violence. No news outlet should ever pretend that’s normal.

    Not only did he fail twice to clearly denounce white supremacy and violence incited by neo-Nazis, but he also claimed that “many sides” -- including the counterprotestors -- were to blame for the violence (which is a false equivalence) and that some of those who marched in the so-called “Unite The Right” rally were “fine people.” (White supremacists even praised Trump for his response.)

    We shouldn’t be surprised that he can’t condemn violence when he regularly encourages and incites it:

    Like that time he endorsed police brutality.

    Or when he tweeted this video someone made of him beating up CNN.

    Or the the time he implied that “Second Amendment people” could shoot Hillary Clinton.

    Or how about when he complained that people were “too politically correct” to hurt one another.

    Or when he told a white supporter who punched a black protester at his campaign rally that’d he look into paying his legal fees.

    Or at another rally when he told his supporters to “knock the crap out of” any protesters they saw.

    News commentators tend to suggest these comments shouldn’t be taken seriously or that he was just joking or that he was just trying to appeal to his base -- or they interview his shills, who downplay the seriousness of endorsing violence.

    This type of coverage misses the point. Using threats of violence to gain supporters is just wrong, and not something that news outlets should ever treat as a normal part of politics. We should be debating ideas -- not talking about how we’re going to clobber people we don’t like.

    Trump is telling his followers to hurt people -- those who are different from them, those who have different beliefs, and those who are just deemed to deserve it. When Trump incites violence, it makes America a more dangerous and more toxic place for all of us.

    News outlets shouldn’t sugarcoat what’s going on here.

  • Thousands of advertisers have blacklisted Breitbart. Can Sinclair really partner with the site?

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    After newly reinstated Breitbart.com chief Stephen Bannon was fired from his role as a senior adviser in the Trump administration on Friday, he returned to the website he aimed to establish as a “platform for the ‘alt-right.’” Rumors have it that Bannon will now seek to expand Breitbart's reach -- a goal that would be complicated by a number of factors, including a massive, ongoing advertiser boycott that makes the Breitbart brand toxic for potential collaborators. In recent months, more than 2,500 advertisers have reportedly bailed on the site.  

    Almost immediately after Bannon’s departure from the White House and return to Breitbart.com, reports of his rumored plans for a Breitbart.com expansion emerged. In Vanity Fair, media reporter Gabriel Sherman reported that Bannon “has media ambitions to compete with Fox News from the right,” potentially by forging a partnership with right-wing local news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    Sinclair is the largest U.S. provider of local TV news, and it often delivers embarrassingly pro-Trump commentary segments without proper disclosure to unwitting audiences across the country. Breitbart functions as the extreme online id of disaffected young white men venting their child-like frustrations by trolling everyone they disagree with (especially when they’re women or people of color). A collaboration between the two would certainly be dangerous. Good thing that probably won't happen.

    Politico’s Alex Weprin laid out several issues a Breitbart.com expansion to television would face, including difficulties with attracting the type of cable news audience (read: ages 60+) that would normally tune into Fox News. Another factor that could stop Bannon in his tracks: Breitbart.com has become completely untouchable for hundreds of advertisers.

    Since November, activist group Sleeping Giants has been waging a successful social media campaign asking advertisers to disassociate themselves from Breitbart’s extremism. In June, Breitbart.com ads had reportedly shrank by “nearly 90 percent” in just three months. Reports from earlier today revealed that “nearly 2,600 advertisers have pulled advertising from the far-right website.”  

    Breitbart’s “bleeding ad revenue” is yet another in a list of numerous strategic and financial reasons (not to mention the ideological, and, above all, moral reasons) Sinclair ought to avoid the infamously toxic, hate-filled troll cesspool at all costs.

  • Poll finds Americans “mostly agree” with Black Lives Matter; Conservative outlet misreads, claims the opposite

    Media Research Center corrects error after Media Matters inquiry

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The conservative Media Research Center criticized PBS for purportedly burying its own poll results showing that Americans disapproved of the goals of Black Lives Matter. But the poll actually showed the opposite: “50% of Americans mostly agree with the beliefs of Black Lives Matter” while “33% of Americans disagree.”

    Tim Graham, NewsBusters Executive Editor and Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis, wrote an August 20 post criticizing “Taxpayer-funded PBS” for “liberal bias” in part because it “buried” poll results on a recent NewsHour program finding that when it comes to Black Lives Matter (BLM), “50 percent disapproved, and only 33 percent approved.”

    MRC’s Twitter account also wrote: “PBS, NPR bury their own poll results showing only 33 percent approve of Black Lives Matter.”

    But the poll actually found that 50% of respondents said they “mostly agree” with BLM, while only 33% “mostly disagree.” Here’s the Marist write-up of the poll it conducted with PBS and NPR:

    For most Americans, there is only one side to what unfolded in Charlottesville.  Few residents nationwide agree with the beliefs held by groups attending the “Unite the Right” rally including the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, or white nationalists.  Although the Alt-Right also has few adherents, more Americans are unsure about their feelings toward this group.

    In contrast, Black Lives Matter is viewed very differently than the groups on the right.  50% of Americans mostly agree with the beliefs of Black Lives Matter including a plurality of white residents, 46%.  33% of Americans disagree.

    NBC News political reporter Benjy Sarlin spotted MRC’s error and tweeted the actual results on the morning of August 20.

    Radio host Mark Levin shared the NewsBusters post on social media, writing: “Government funded media bury the facts.”

    Media Matters contacted Graham about the error today after it hadn’t been corrected in over a day. Graham subsequently fixed the post, which now has a “correction added” stating: “The original version of this article had these numbers incorrectly reversed.” NewsBusters tweeted a correction and Graham tweeted: "I made an honest mistake. I own it. I'm sorry it took so long to notice it. Correction is on the page.”

  • With Bannon gone, the far-right media trolls are ready to break up with the White House

    The anti-establishment trolls have lost their biggest White House ally and are starting to go after Pence. Prepare for the right-wing media food fight.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Stephen Bannon is no longer the White House chief strategist. His departure, in addition to furthering the narrative of a Trump administration in constant chaos, is likely to become a source of acrimony between right-wing anti-establishment outlets and online trolls and those who remain in the Trump administration.

    Bannon’s departure has prompted a shift in amongst pro-Trump outlets and far-right trolls -- like The Gateway Pundit and Mike Cernovich -- who are now reporting that the White House is being taken over by a “deep state” coup led by Vice President Mike Pence. Cernovich is a right-wing opportunistic troll who rode to prominence by supporting President Donald Trump but has recently announced “a big pivot” away from the president. In response to the news about Bannon getting fired, Cernovich took to Periscope to claim that “there’s a full-on coup” organized by Pence but that Trump doesn’t deserve any sympathy because he’s “a 71-year old man” who chose to listen to his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner instead of Bannon. Pro-Trump troll Jack Posobiec (who has also recently tried to move away from the “alt-right” movement) pushed the coup narrative as well, suggesting that the “RNC is counting impeachment votes from Congress against Trump,” adding, “They want rid of him.” Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing troll who was formerly employed by Breitbart.com, celebrated Bannon’s departure by launching Bannon 2020 merchandise on his online store and saying he looks forward to “having Steve back in the trenches again.” Yiannopoulos also said he wants to see “Bannon the Barbarian crush his enemies.”

    Bannon’s departure has other possible impacts for the far-right media universe. According to reports, Bannon might be returning to Breitbart, the Mercer-funded outlet he once claimed was “platform for the ‘alt-right,’” a term its current editors (much like former proud supporters of the movement) are trying to move away from. With Bannon in the White House, Breitbart behaved like any other pro-Trump outlet, showing little editorial independence and supporting Trump’s agenda (including his war on the press). But this support lasted as long as Trump’s agenda aligned with Bannon’s: Breitbart did not shy away from attacking Kushner, who is a White House senior adviser, to defend Bannon. With Bannon out, it seems like Breitbart will hold no punches in a war against a White House it now perceives as controlled by globalists.

    The right-wing media landscape is about to shift once more, putting the Bannon-loyalists, nationalist ideologues, and opportunistic trolls in a war against an establishment Republican Party faction they think is being led by Pence and, likely, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of Fox News and owner of the Wall Street Journal. It remains to be seen whether Trump and his White House will be caught in the middle.

  • European "alt-right" ship tries to stop refugee rescue missions, fails miserably

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The campaign of Defend Europe, a European white nationalist “Identitarian” movement, to disrupt humanitarian search-and-rescue missions for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, ended yesterday after months of problems, from its ship’s mechanical failure to the crew’s sea-sickness. Despite the group’s claims of total and undisputable success, its campaign was nothing more than a stunt, and a failed one at that.

    Here’s a list of mishaps the campaign suffered over the past four months, as reported by HuffPost UK, the U.K.-based anti-extremism research and education group HOPE Not Hate, and others:

    • In May, pro-Trump troll Lauren Southern and three Defend Europe members were detained by the Italian Coast Guard after they attempted to block a search-and-rescue ship travelling to Sicily.
    • In June, the group’s PayPal account, through which it was soliciting donations, was frozen for violating the service’s terms
    • In July, the group’s ship, C-Star, was reportedly detained by Egyptian authorities in the Suez Canal due to a “lack of documentation and papers”; this detainment delayed the ship’s effort to reach the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Shortly after, several individuals linked to Defend Europe had their Patreon accounts suspended for violating the company’s terms by soliciting donations for “activities that are likely to cause loss of life.”
    • In late July, the ship’s captain and owner were detained in Northern Cyprus, and the crew was investigated for possible human trafficking. Following a two-day detention, the Defend Europe members were then deported from the port “for alleged people-smuggling.”
    • In several countries, regional government authorities, NGOs, and citizens protesting the group’s racist activities prevented the C-Star from resupplying, docking, and refueling at ports in Italy, Tunisia, Crete, Greek Cyprus, and Malta.
    • In August, the C-Star broke down and had to be rescued by a real refugee rescue ship.

    And, as HuffPost UK noted, the "successes" the group took credit for were actually spurred by regional governments and humanitarian organizations. Specifically, the recent decline in migrant crossings of the Mediterranean Sea was spurred by Italian and Libyan Coast Guard missions, Islamic State group clashes along the Libyan coast, and the weather -- not by a motley crew of anti-refugee 20-year-olds.

    As the outlet also documented, the actual activities of members of Defend Europe amounted to little more than shouting at faraway ships, unfurling anti-immigrant banners, and interviewing each other to promote their online brands. One thing is clear from Defend Europe’s months long operation -- it was an embarrassing failure.

  • Why is Tucker Carlson so reluctant to condemn white supremacists?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    White supremacists and neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, VA, last weekend. Support for the town’s statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was their rallying point, though the underlying rationale was a toxic mixture of racism and anti-Semitism. The protesters were met by a coalition of progressives, religious leaders, and the antifa movement; violence erupted, and Heather Heyer was killed when an alleged neo-Nazi crashed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Since then, journalists and activists have spent hours on cable news discussing the validity of removing Confederate statues from the public square, the appropriateness of President Donald Trump’s response to the tragic incident, and whether “left-wing violence” is a dangerous phenomenon. But the throughline of the coverage has been the fervent, universal denunciation of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis as advocates of a violent, racist ideology that has no place in public life.

    But one curious exception stands out from this trend: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, one of the most popular cable news programs in the country. Over the past four nights, Tucker Carlson has seemed unusually loath to offer harsh words for the protesters and their ideology, instead focusing his criticism on progressives who responded by seeking to remove more Confederate statues or curtail the speech of extremists. Carlson is a skilled polemicist, but he has devoted no monologues to railing against the bigotry of white supremacy, no analysis of the aims or history of their growing movement. He is a talented debater who uses his program to brutally dispatch guests who lack his skill, but hasn’t brought a neo-Nazi onto his program for the explicit purpose of exposing their hatred.

    Carlson’s hesitancy to offer a fervent condemnation of the protesters and his preference for using the issue to criticize the left mirrors Trump’s reaction. And like that of the president, Carlson’s rise has been applauded by the very same racists who marched on Charlottesville. White supremacists love Carlson because he uses his program to push issues they care about -- namely condemnations of immigrants and Muslims and the promotion of “European culture” -- to a massive audience. As neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of the website Daily Stormer put it, “Tucker Carlson is literally our greatest ally.” (The website urged its readers to attend the Charlottesville rally in order to “end Jewish influence in America.”)

    To be clear, it’s not that Carlson has refused to criticize white supremacists altogether this week, it’s just that his criticisms are brief, perfunctory statements he uses to set up his attacks on the left. He’ll say he doesn’t like that white supremacists put “race at the center of their worldview,” before accusing the left of having a similar obsession with race. He will agree with a guest that KKK rhetoric is “awful” and “hateful,” using that admission to set up a critique of arguments for restricting “hate speech.” He will clear his throat by saying of white nationalist groups, “I’m not a part of them and don’t like them” before ripping the left for curtailing their speech. And that’s about as far as Carlson has been willing to go over the past four days. Such reticence to employ harsh language is unusual for Carlson; over the same period, for example, he’s described Google as “authoritarian” and “un-American,” and accused progressive activists of engaging in the “textbook definition of racism.”

    Carlson doesn’t seem to view the weekend’s violent eruption as the result of a racist ideology. Instead, he had described the events as “chaos” featuring a “lunatic hell-bent” on murder who was inadvertently aided politicians who wouldn’t let law enforcement do their jobs. “What country was this?” he asked on his first program after the protests. “Where were the authorities? What happened to the police? Is this America?” Carlson had a very different take after the terrorist attack Thursday in Barcelona, Spain. He quickly blamed “radical Islam” and increased Muslim immigration. “If your population changes, your society is going to change for good and bad, probably, but this is one of the downsides,” he said, adding that Western European leaders who refuse to “draw that obvious conclusion” are “paralyzed by guilt and self-hatred.”

    Meanwhile, the Fox host has devoted substantial time on each night this week to what he apparently considers a far greater threat: efforts by liberal activists to tear down historical statues. Carlson has devoted little attention to the fact that the Charlottesville protesters rallied in support of the Lee statue. But he has painted the activist movement rising in the wake of that atrocity as ignorant of history and ideologically committed to abolishing our collective understanding of the past. And he’s warned those activists are dangerous, claiming that “if a crowd of people with strong political views can destroy a statue, why can't they set your house on fire? I mean, in other words, why doesn't this stuff accelerate into something really dangerous? Why wouldn't it?” That is more concern than he has demonstrated about the white supremacists with “strong political views” who already have blood on their hands.

    On Wednesday he championed the free speech rights of white supremacists, warning against “the prospect of big companies using their power to enforce ideological conformity” by refusing them access to their platforms. He even said his guest’s contention that the protesters were “camping about with tiki torches like the right did and rambling on about Jews” because their speech rights had been denied was “exactly right.”

    It would be easy to write off Carlson’s lack of interest and explain it away, except for the fact that Tucker is a star among the very collection of deplorables he has been so uninterested in criticizing.

    Yes, the issues of who is publicly venerated by our society and whether speech rights are absolute are complex, important ones on which people of good faith may disagree.

    Yes, Carlson could argue that the virulence of white supremacist ideology should go without saying, or that many other shows are already providing that service and he wanted to do something different.

    But surely a program that found several minutes this week to berate Weekly Standard editor at large Bill Kristol could also manage to find some time to more forcefully condemn neo-Nazis in the wake of the weekend’s events.

    Carlson has the biggest platform on cable news. More than three million people tune in to his show every night. Some of them are prominent white supremacists and neo-Nazis. It seems unlikely that Carlson is unaware of this fact. If he wanted to, he could use his power to confront and condemn their behavior, in a longshot even attempt to use his rhetorical skills to move them away from racism. Instead, he followed up a violent white nationalist conflagration with days of programming that they must have loved.

  • Media Matters to James Murdoch: Your letter took a stand against white nationalism. Now keep it up by living your values at Fox News.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington, DC-- Media Matters President Angelo Carusone released the following statement after James Murdoch circulated an email expressing concern about President Donald Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis -- and emphasized the need to “stand up to” this toxic hatred.

    “Much of what Donald Trump said this week that James Murdoch is condemning actually came directly from Fox News. So, if James Murdoch really believes what he wrote in that email, then he needs to start with Fox News, the network that he runs. Until James stands up to Fox News preying on racial anxieties and serving as state-aligned propaganda for Trump, his sentiments ring hollow.

    His $1 million donation to the Anti-Defamation League is laudable. But, it is hardly proportional to the damage that Fox News has done and will continue to do unless James Murdoch acts.”

    Earlier this week, as shown in a Media Matters supercut, Donald Trump parroted several Fox News talking points during a press conference as he responded to questions about deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA. These talking points included Trump smearing counter-protesters as the “alt-left,” suggesting that calls to take down Confederate statues is a slippery slope that could lead to demands to take down statues of other historical figures, and defending his failure to condemn white supremacists in his initial response to the violence.

  • Pro-Trump media conspiracy theory: The white supremacist who organized Charlottesville rally is really a liberal spy 

    Fringe outlets and fake news purveyors claim Charlottesville was staged to make conservatives look bad 

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Hyperpartisan media outlets, fake news purveyors, and fringe right-wing media figures are promoting a conspiracy theory that suggests that one of the white supremacist organizers of the rally in Charlottesville, VA, was really a “liberal double agent” who staged the rallies in order to “depict conservatives as white supremacists.”

    On the weekend of August 11, white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville for an “alt-right” “Unite The Right” rally protesting the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Throughout the weekend, the neo-Nazi and white supremacist crowd carried torches and weapons and shouted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The rally turned deadly on Saturday when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman.

    Jason Kessler, a white supremacist who has previously written for and appeared in right-wing and far-right media outlets, was one of the main organizers of the gathering. But pro-Trump media and fake news purveyors are now spinning a sentence from a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) profile of Kessler to question whether Kessler is really a “liberal double agent.”

    After pro-Trump outlet The Gateway Pundit drew attention to the SPLC report, which noted that “rumors abound on white nationalist forums that Kessler’s ideological pedigree before 2016 was less than pure and seem to point to involvement in the Occupy movement and past support for President Obama,” fringe right-wing media figures and hyperpartisan fake news purveyors quickly jumped on the claim. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, who is also a host at the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, tweeted the Gateway Pundit article, writing, “Oops ! Charlottesville “White Supremacist" was an Obama Supporter/Occupy protestor (sic) #fishy #falseflag #SorosOp.” Fake news purveyor Conservative Daily Post suggested the rally was organized by the left to “shatter Trump’s base and depict conservatives as white supremacists.”

    This conspiracy theory picked up more steam after Breitbart also highlighted the mention from the SPLC report on rumors about Kessler’s past political leanings and his role in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Discredited author Dinesh D’Souza tweeted the Breitbart article, asking, “Could it be that the organizer of the #Charlottesville rally is a left-wing fascist pretending to be a right-winger?” He additionally tweeted, “The whole rally may have been staged to feed the mainstream media’s big lie that racism & fascism are on the right.” Fake news purveyor Right Wing News questioned if Kessler was “a plant and this whole thing a set up to pit Americans against each other.” Fake news purveyor YourNewsWire claimed that Kessler may be “a plant, inserted into the Trump Movement to find a way to take it down,” and argued he was possibly a “deep state operative.” And fake news purveyor Freedom Daily posited that Kessler was either so fed up with eight years of Obama that he “sw[ore] off an entire race … or he’s a liberal double agent.”

    Users on online forums popular among the “alt-right” also jumped on the conspiracy theory. People on Reddit’s “r/The_Donald” and 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board (commonly referred to as /pol/) that have helped spread conspiracy theories previously wondered if Kessler was “planted by Soros/deep state,” claimed that Kessler was a “PLANT/OBAMA SHILL” who helped create a “professional staged event,” and wrote that the Charlottesville events were “all false flag protests.” One Reddit user even claimed he was the reason the SPLC report had spread to begin with.

    The spread of this conspiracy theory among far-right figures, forums, and fake news purveyors is yet another example of how the fringe as an ecosystem spreads dubious claims, conspiracy theories, and lies, while simultaneously attacking perceived enemies.

  • NRA’s double standard on terror is on display following vehicle attacks in the US and Spain

    NRA’s live news show used Barcelona terror attacks to suggest “political correctness” could cause an attack in the U.S., but has had nothing to say about last week’s Charlottesville attack

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s live news show Stinchfield issued a “terror alert” following terrorist van attacks in Spain, in which ISIS supporters drove vans into crowds at two locations, killing 14 and injuring more than 100 people. But the show has yet to mention the events of August 12 in Charlottesville, VA, where a neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing activist Heather Heyer and wounding 19 others.

    Since the terror in Charlottesville, Stinchfield -- which consists of five daily updates at the top of the hour on weekdays starting at 9 a.m. EST -- has run 21 segments totalling approximately 210 minutes of airtime without mentioning the attack in Virginia.

    During its 9 a.m. update on August 18, Stinchfield used the tragedy in Spain to push right-wing talking points. During the broadcast, a “terror alert” appeared on the screen, which the NRA show has displayed after other attacks.

    Recounting the details of the attack, host Grant Stinchfield said to NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton, “All of this, though, reminds me, Chuck, of the lessons we can learn here in America, which is open borders are very dangerous, the terrorists will certainly exploit it. We have that situation going on in Europe with the open borders. And the other is political correctness.”

    He continued, “In Europe, they are so afraid to offend anyone when it comes to keeping people safe. And so you combine those two things together, and this is what’s going to happen in places like Europe, and I’m afraid, Chuck, in America as well.”

    During the segment, Holton criticized Spain’s gun laws (falsely claiming that “people are not allowed to have guns here”) and Stinchfield called on “patriotic Muslims” to “infiltrate” terror cells in the United States and in Europe.

    Stinchfield routinely uses terror attacks in Europe to push right-wing talking points and promote gun ownership. Following the bombing at Manchester Arena in May, Holton claimed that the U.K. “has had this coming for a long time” in part because of the country’s gun laws, and also blamed the attack on “gender-bending,” “multiculturalism,” and open borders for refugees. Following the March vehicle and knife attack at London Bridge, Stinchfield said, “This attack should serve as a reminder of how important our gun rights are here in America.”

    Beyond the double standard about what types of terror warrant mention on Stinchfield, the lack of coverage of Charlottesville stands out more within the context of the NRA being widely criticized earlier this year for releasing an ad that critics said encouraged violence against left-wing protesters.

    Both of these tragedies call for widespread media coverage, but Stinchfield is making a very conspicuous choice to only commentate on one.