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  • As turmoil within the NRA mounts, NRATV pretends nothing is wrong

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A public feud between the National Rifle Association and its longtime ad firm Ackerman McQueen is escalating, creating a bizarre dynamic in which the ad firm continues its role producing the NRA’s media outlet even as it wages a scorched-earth campaign against the group’s leadership. Supporters of the Ackerman faction are now leaking embarrassing information about NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre that could threaten his job as well as the NRA’s tax-exempt nonprofit status. Yet NRATV continues to put forward a facade of normalcy.

    The first public sign of trouble between the NRA and Ackerman -- which have worked together for nearly four decades -- was revealed in a March 11 article in The New York Times. Noting that NRATV “has adopted an increasingly apocalyptic, hard-right tone, warning of race wars, describing Barack Obama as a ‘fresh-faced flower-child president,’ calling for a march on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and comparing journalists to rodents,” the Times quoted NRA board members, including past NRA President Marion Hammer, expressing concern about NRATV’s direction. The Times reported that LaPierre was “livid and embarrassed” after NRA national spokesperson and Ackerman employee Dana Loesch aired an episode of her NRATV show -- first reported on by Media Matters -- that depicted Thomas the Tank Engine in a Ku Klux Klan hood in an attempt to criticize the children’s television show Thomas and Friends for adding diversity to its cast of characters.

    Then in April, the NRA sued Ackerman in Virginia state court, alleging that the ad firm has not fulfilled its contractual obligations to the NRA. The NRA’s complaint mentioned that it paid Ackerman $42.6 million in 2017 alone and alleged that Ackerman refused to turn over metrics that could be used to evaluate NRATV’s effectiveness and that it would not provide full details about a contract with then-NRA President Oliver North to produce an NRATV series. (The NRA would later update its legal complaint to accuse North of duplicitously attempting to draw a salary from both the NRA and Ackerman.)

    The conflict between the NRA and its own advertising firm came to a head during the 2019 NRA annual meeting, when a series of events pitted LaPierre and Brewer Attorneys & Counselors -- an outside legal contractor that allegedly costs the NRA nearly $100,000 per day -- against North and Ackerman McQueen. (Another strange aspect to the infighting: William Brewer, the CEO of Brewer Attorneys, is the brother-in-law of Ackerman McQueen CEO Revan McQueen.) As the meetings were unfolding, North sent the NRA board a letter alleging LaPierre participated in various financial misdeeds. LaPierre responded by accusing North of attempting to extort him and said he would not resign. In the end, LaPierre was reelected by the board of the directors, while North was ousted from the presidency after acknowledging he did not have the support of the board.

    That outcome appears to have done little to stem the infighting. In one recent major development, on May 10, the letter that North sent to the board leaked and its embarrassing claims about LaPierre’s spending became public. In recent years, LaPierre often used Ackerman to pay for things that the NRA would later reimburse. Among the expenses: more than $274,000 in clothing purchases from a single Beverly Hills, CA, clothing boutique, including as much as $39,000 spent in a single day, and an additional $267,000-plus for travel and rent, including $18,300 for a car and driver during a trip in Europe and $13,800 to rent an apartment for a summer intern. The letter also highlighted legal fees charged by Brewer that North said were exorbitant.

    NRATV has continued its regular broadcasts during this infighting, with no mention of any of these new developments. Ackerman has produced the NRA’s media operation since 2004, when the outlet was originally called NRA News. In 2016, NRA News changed its name to NRATV and massively expanded to become a 24/7 online broadcast. NRATV has three shows that broadcast live on weekdays; the rest of the airtime is filled with rebroadcasts, prerecorded series, and other videos from the massive NRATV archive.

    NRATV’s news-of-the-day show Stinchfield has continued its focus on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, which the NRA terms the ”disarmament primary.” A snapshot of “disarmament primary” segments broadcast on May 15 and 16 shows the type of unhinged and apocalyptic claims that host Grant Stinchfield routinely makes about Democratic candidates:

    • On former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX): “The cornerstone of his [2018 Senate] campaign was to ban AR-15s, a dopey move, even if just by political standards. There are some 22 million gun owners in Texas, many of whom own AR-15s. So gaffe after gaffe put the privileged white kid from boarder school who goes by Beto in a dunce cap in the back of the disarmament primary room.” (Note: Texas has an estimated population of 28.7 million people, making Stinchfield’s claim about the number of gun owners in that state incredibly unlikely.) [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/15/19]
    • On Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) comment that she would use executive actions to ban the imports of assault weapons: “She’s going to undermine the Second Amendment using executive orders. … The arrogance there, to think that she has a right to do that. We live in a representative government world here in the United States where we send people to Congress to have a say in the laws that are passed. She wants to make an end run around Congress, that’s what Kamala Harris is willing to do, use executive action in a tyrannical fashion to take away your rights.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/15/19]
    • On New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Another socialist gun grabber says he’s ready to be president. Let’s welcome New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to the disarmament primary. … He’ll take your money, he’ll take your guns and your home because that’s how his socialist mind works. But de Bozo is oh so late to this party.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/16/19]
    • On former Vice President Joe Biden: “He declared that everyone is not entitled to a gun and … we should all ‘put a damn trigger lock on it, put it in a case, you have an obligation,’ he says. My only obligation, Sloppy Joe, is to keep my family safe. Don’t tell me how to store my firearm when you know nothing about them.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/16/19]

    Stinchfield has also continued its regular attacks on the press. On May 16, Stinchfield ran three different segments on a local news story about preventing home burglaries. The reporter who wrote the story interviewed convicted burglars about what makes them more or less likely to target a home. According to the report, “That National Rifle Association (NRA) sticker on the door that once deterred burglars is now often viewed as a clue that valuable guns are in the home for the taking.” Stinchfield was apoplectic, apparently not grasping that the reporter wasn’t endorsing the interviewees’ views but was simply sharing what he was told. According to Stinchfield:

    The bottom line is this: The reporter’s apparent bias toward guns and the NRA got in the way of telling a meaningful story with some good tips. His credibility is shot now, to me, and sadly, most people will miss that little shot across the bow that he fires at the NRA in this piece. But this is what we’re up against: a mainstream media waging an information war against us. “How dare you be an NRA member,” they say. “How dare you show it proudly. If you do, you’ll be burglarized.” Give me a break.

    The theory that an NRA sticker could increase the odds of a burglary has come up in other recent local news investigations, and it has even been discussed in pro-gun media without allegations of a mainstream media conspiracy.

    NRATV’s two other live shows, Relentless, hosted by Dana Loesch, and Cam & Co., hosted by Cam Edwards, were unremarkable on May 15 and 16 , featuring criticism of Democratic presidential candidates and discussion of gun issues. In one segment characteristic of Loesch’s tendency to sometimes veer into bizarre commentary, Loesch cautioned NRATV viewers to make sure not to leave guns behind in public bathrooms or else “the disarmament left” could “use an accident in an attempt to get rid of your Second Amendment rights.”
     

    Despite his ouster as NRA president, North remains a prominent face at NRATV.com. That appears to be because he still works for Ackerman; his NRATV bio page currently describes him as “Past NRA President, Host.” (North also appears to continue to serve on the NRA board of directors. He was reelected to a three-year term at the annual meeting in voting that occurred before the latest NRA infighting became public.) On NRATV’s “series” page, North is seen alongside his nemesis LaPierre.  

    The show that North hosts, American Heroes, is a major part of the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman. In an updated legal complaint filed against Ackerman, the NRA alleged that the series did not deliver as many episodes as promised and did not generate as much sponsorship revenue for the NRA as expected. The few episodes that North and Ackerman have managed to produce so far are available for view at NRATV.com. Just four episodes have been released since the series’s launch in November 2018.

    The civil litigation between the NRA and Ackerman is in its earliest stages and there appears to be no end in sight for the gun group’s infighting. But for now, NRATV will continue to serve as the NRA’s messaging apparatus -- even as the PR company that produces it continues to cause massive public relations problems for the NRA.

  • Instagram is letting the NRA encourage harassment and threats against one of the gun group’s biggest critics

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The National Rifle Association is using social media to organize a harassment campaign against one of its prominent critics after she criticized the NRA for its opposition to the regulation of armor-piercing ammunition.

    In a May 8 Instagram post, the NRA criticized Shannon Watts, who leads gun safety organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, for taking issue with the group’s opposition to regulating armor-piercing ammunition.

    The NRA has long stymied attempts to restrict a particular type of armor-piercing ammunition known as “green tip” by promoting the falsehood that banning it would necessitate banning all other types of rifle ammunition. It also attacked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2015 after the agency published a letter describing its intent to ban “green tip” pursuant to its interpretation of the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1985 (LEOPA). (While “green tip” was initially exempted from restrictions placed on armor-piercing ammunition in the LEOPA, the recent prevalence of the sale of handguns that can fire rifle rounds caused ATF to ask for the exemption to be removed. ATF’s request was not granted, but even if it was, all other types of rifle ammunition currently sold would have remained legal.)


    In its Instagram post about Watts, the NRA encouraged people to contact the advocate, writing, “Tell @ShannonRWatts (aka ‘Bloomberg’s chief lobbyist’) what you think about ammunition bans.” Unsurprisingly, Watts then received a torrent of harassment and death threats on the platform that targeted her and her family. She wrote on Twitter, “The @NRA just posted this to Instagram and now people are threatening to kill me. I guess the NRA is scared of a mom.”

    Following Watts’ tweet, the NRA doubled down with a new post that attacked her for moderating comments on her Instagram account with the claim, “Shannon Watts deleted 127 comments in 19 minutes.” In the caption, the NRA tagged Watts’ Instagram handle again, claimed that Watts was “deleting all of your thoughtful comments,” bizarrely claimed that Watts “despises” the First Amendment, and added the hashtag “#SorryNotSorry.”

    As Watts continued to be harassed, the NRA put up another post highlighting the fact that Watts had disabled comments on her Instagram page.The gun group again tagged Watts’ Instagram handle in the caption and pushed the falsehood that banning armor-piercing ammunition would mean banning “all rifle ammunition used for self-defense, sport, and hunting.”

    Many of the responses Watts got as a result of the NRA’s posts were vile. As the group encouraged people to contact her, Watts documented on Twitter the messages she received on Instagram, which included:

    The NRA could have claimed some plausible deniability about the threats and harassment that its initial Instagram post elicited. Instead, it openly encouraged a harassment campaign against Watts with its follow-up posts. And among the major social media platforms, the NRA picked a good one to use for a harassment campaign, as Instagram has been notably recalcitrant to take measures to stop harassment on its platform.

    As Taylor Lorenz explained in an October 2018 article in The Atlantic on Instagram’s harassment problem, “The platform is also a powerful discovery engine: On Instagram, it’s easy to search by hashtag or location and pull up thousands of people’s profiles and public images, and it’s simple for anyone who wants to mobilize an army to encourage trolls to pile on a specific person by tagging them in an image or story.”

  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch says "psychotropic drugs" may be to blame for school shootings

    On Fox, Loesch echoed a right-wing myth pushed by conspiracy theory sites like Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch blamed the recent school shooting in Highlands Ranch, CO, on “psychotropic drugs” -- a common talking point from right-wing conspiracy theory outlets such as Infowars.  

    On May 7, one student was killed and eight others injured when two shooters opened fire in STEM School Highlands Ranch. Two students, Brendan Bialy and Kendrick Castillo, reportedly tried to tackle the alleged shooters with the help of an unidentified third student. Castillo was shot as he rushed one of the attackers and died at the hospital.

    Shortly after the shooting, Loesch went on Fox News to accuse gun safety activists of politicizing the tragedy because of their tweets condemning gun violence. Loesch returned to Fox on May 9, appearing on Fox & Friends to offer as possible causes for the Highlands Ranch school shooting a lack of “respect for life,” a lack of “boundaries for our youth,” and a lack of “that solid family home.”She went on to suggest “psychotropic drugs” as a possible reason for the uptick in school shootings, claiming one of the gunmen was “abusing illegal drugs”:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): What is the problem? You said there is “a heart problem” in our country. How do we prevent this from happening again?

    DANA LOESCH (NRA SPOKESPERSON): You know, Kendrick is the same age as my oldest son. And I understand Kendrick Castillo is graduating this week and my oldest son is graduating this week. So, you know, as a mother you look every single kid out there -- and you know this, Ainsley, every single kid out there is your own child. And it makes me so angry his life was taken so prematurely from him by someone so evil and so horrendous. And I think that’s -- I wish that is the discussion we could have in this country.

    There is something wrong with our youth, everybody. There is something that is happening in our culture because we have always had firearms, but we have never had this many incidents. We also have more restrictive laws and more regulations. I mean, Colorado has a lot of gun laws. We have a number of things that are taking place. But what we are lacking is a respect for life. What we are lacking are clear boundaries for our youth. We're lacking that solid family home, and I don't know if all of this or if some of this playing into why we keep seeing individuals reacting this way.

    Is it psychotropic drugs? We know a couple of things that one of the individuals apparently, according to reports in law enforcement, had been abusing illegal drugs and was in therapy. If we’re gonna discuss warning signs, how about that? They stole two handguns, they're illegal to carry and possess by people under age 21. And I hope, by the way, that more people check out the NRA School Shield program so we can get more armed security guards in some more of these schools so that we can prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

    Blaming shootings on “psychotropic” and “psychiatric drugs” instead of access to firearms is a favorite talking point of the right-wing conspiracy theory outlet Infowars. The website has attempted to blame mass shootings in Las Vegas, NV, Parkland, FL, and Jacksonville, FL, on the shooters’ reported medications.  

    In reality, people struggling with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators. According to Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, a leading researcher on violence and mental health, “If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, that would be wonderful, but overall violence would go down by only about 4 percent.” As Julia Fast, an expert in bipolar disorder, wrote in Psychology Today:

    It’s not a chicken or the egg problem. There is the mental health concern and then there are drugs as a response, not a cause. The NRA and other gun rights lobby groups are conveniently skipping the most important part of the problem: the shooters are on drugs because there were signs that something was not right in their brains from the beginning.

  • Fox News anchor misleadingly splices together tweets of anti-gun violence activist to accuse her of politicizing Colorado school shooting

    NRA's Dana Loesch went on Fox to dismiss calls for gun safety legislation as a rush "to politicize" a tragedy

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Yesterday, a shooting at a school in Highlands Ranch, CO, left one student dead and eight injured. To discuss the tragedy, Fox anchor Shannon Bream on Fox “news”-side show Fox News @ Night brought on NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who derided people for blaming guns after shootings.

    Loesch also accused actress Alyssa Milano and gun safety activist and founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts of politicizing the tragedy in their tweets condemning the school shooting and criticizing the NRA, asking, “What is wrong with these ladies’ hearts that their first response to a tragedy, before we even know who the victim is, is to rush to politicize it?”

    Fox featured on screen a tweet attributed to Watts that was actually two tweets the network had misleadingly spliced together -- one posted after the shooting and part of another she had posted the day before. Fox has a history of propping up the NRA and the embattled organization’s legislative priorities. The NRA frequently accuses activists of politicizing deadly shootings.

  • Cable news cover UNCC mass shooting for less than 45 minutes

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

     Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A deadly rampage at University of North Carolina at Charlotte that left two dead and four injured got less than 43 minutes of cable news coverage from April 30, the day of the shooting, till May 3.

    On Tuesday, a 22-year-old former UNCC student opened fire on campus with a legally purchased handgun, killing two students and wounding four more. One of the victims, Riley Howell, charged the gunman after he had shot five people and pinned him to the ground until police arrived. During a press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said, “Absolutely, Mr. Howell saved lives. … Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.”

    The night the shooting occured, Fox News was the only cable network to mention it, covering the incident for just over one minute (the general lack of breaking news coverage was no doubt linked to emerging news about special counsel Robert Mueller’s letter to Attorney General William Barr).

    In the days following the shooting, from May 1 to May 3, MSNBC covered the shooting for just under five minutes, CNN devoted nearly 24 minutes, and Fox News covered it for a little over 14 minutes -- amounting to just under 43 minutes total.

    Chart by Melissa Joskow.

    On broadcast channels, during ABC News’ coverage of the shooting on May 1, World News Tonight with David Muir aired footage of a reporter attempting to question the handcuffed gunman about what happened as he was being lead away by police. This type of unnecessary focus on the gunman has been linked to a “contagion effect” in which mass shooters “model their attacks on previous incidents, and often appear to desire recognition.”

    The Sunday news shows -- CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and CBS’ Face the Nation -- all ignored the UNCC shooting.

    According to Gun Violence Archive, the shooting at UNCC is the 104th mass shooting this year in the U.S., and according to an NBC News tracker, it is the third school shooting, in 2019.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for shot, shoot, gunman, kill, murder, charged, UNCC, UNC, university, Charlotte, North Carolina, Howell, Parlier, or Terrell from 5 a.m. till midnight between April 29 and May 3 and on Sunday, May 5. Media Matters searched those same terms during the May 5 Sunday news shows. All mentions of the shooting, including teasers, headlines, and full segments, were timed.

  • New NRA President Carolyn Meadows: Rep. Lucy McBath won her House race because she is a “minority female”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Update (5/7/19): Meadows released the following statement to The Washington Post apologizing for her comments: “I apologize to Rep. McBath and her supporters. My comments were insensitive and inappropriate. I did not intend to discredit the congresswoman or the merits of her campaign — only to reflect my view that the Second Amendment was not a prevailing factor in this election.”

    New National Rifle Association President Carolyn Meadows claimed that Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) won her 2018 election to the U.S. House not because of her support for gun violence prevention, but because she is a “minority female.”

    Meadows was elected president of the NRA during an April 29 meeting of NRA board members following weeks of public infighting at the gun group. Her comments about McBath were reported in a May 5 article in the Marietta Daily Journal. As the Daily Journal related:

    Meadows’ own backyard will be part of the political battlefield as she and other right-leaning groups target U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, who represents Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Last year, McBath unseated then-incumbent Karen Handel, R-Roswell, who has announced her intention to run for the seat again.

    “There will be more than one person in the race, but we'll get that seat back,” Meadows said. “But it is wrong to say like McBath said, that the reason she won was because of her anti-gun stance. That didn't have anything to do with it — it had to do with being a minority female. And the Democrats really turned out, and that's the problem we have with conservatives — we don't turn out as well.”

    McBath ran for Congress in 2018 on a gun law reform platform following the murder of her son, Jordan Davis, by a man who later attempted to use the NRA-authored “Stand Your Ground” law as a legal defense in his criminal trial. Meadows also mentioned McBath in an interview published on April 30 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, promising to direct NRA resources to the race in her home congressional district and saying that the NRA will endorse whoever runs against McBath in 2020.

    In addition to her work with the NRA, Meadows is the leader of an organization, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA), that blocked a 2015 proposal to construct a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Stone Mountain, GA. According to the SMMA board of directors, which Meadows chairs, the King memorial would have conflicted with the massive memorial to the Confederacy that the SMMA maintains at Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is also the site where the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was launched with a cross burning ceremony in 1915. In his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, King said, "Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."

  • New NRA President Carolyn Meadows helped block construction of bell tower honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in 2015

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Newly elected National Rifle Association President Carolyn Meadows led an organization that blocked a proposal to construct a bell tower honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Stone Mountain, GA. The organization viewed the proposed tower as antithetical to a monument honoring the Confederacy located at the same site.

    Meadows, who sits on the NRA board of directors and was serving as the group’s second vice president, was elected president of the NRA during an April 29 meeting of NRA board members following weeks of public infighting that led to the ouster of President Oliver North. According to a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, following her election, Meadows declined to discuss NRA infighting but said the NRA was gearing up for the 2020 elections and focused in particular on defeating Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), who represents the district where Meadows lives. McBath ran for Congress in 2018 on a gun law reform platform following the murder of her son Jordan Davis by a man who later attempted to use the NRA-authored “Stand Your Ground” law at his criminal trial.

    In addition to her work with the NRA, Meadows is the chairman of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA), an organization that maintains the largest memorial to the Confederacy in the United States. Stone Mountain, GA, features an enormous relief carving that depicts Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback. A 2017 article in Smithsonian magazine noted that “the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain” and “is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy.”

    In 2015, the CEO of SMMA proposed constructing a tower with a replica of the Liberty Bell on top of Stone Mountain to honor King. In his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, King said, "Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."

    Press reports from 2015 indicated that the proposal would go forward, but the bell tower has not been built. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in January, “the park’s all-white governing board decided” that “such a monument would clash with the legislated purpose of the state-owned park as a memorial to the Confederacy.” Meadows is a member of that governing board, having served continuously since at least 2011 via appointments by former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. According to SMMA meeting minutes, Meadows has served as the group’s chairman dating back to at least 2013.

    In addition to being the location of the largest Confederate memorial in the United States, Stone Mountain is closely associated with the Klu Klux Klan. KKK leader William Simmons “ushered in the modern era of the Ku Klux Klan, founding the Second KKK at the top of Stone Mountain on November 25, 1915,” in an event that included a cross burning and that signaled “a new era of white nationalist terrorism,” according to Smithsonian magazine. Plans for the Confederate memorial were already being made at the time of the Klan ceremony, but the project ended up being shuttered for several decades and was revived only following right-wing anger over the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending school segregation. The monument was eventually completed in 1972.

    The NRA -- which falsely calls itself the U.S.’s “oldest civil rights organization” -- and its media arm often use the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to distort King’s comments and actions relating to gun ownership to portray King, a committed nonviolent activist who was felled by an assassin's bullet, as a pro-gun advocate.

    Attempts to build the King monument have recently been revived. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the idea to erect a Liberty Bell on Stone Mountain to honor King was discussed at an April 2018 event Meadows attended. After the event, Meadows was asked by a reporter about the proposal and claimed she hadn't previously heard of the idea, even though the idea of a bell tower memorial to King on the mountain made national news in 2015. And according to SMMA meeting minutes from June 16, 2015, Meadows recognized Georgia resident Mark Pozner to speak at the meeting in favor of placing a plaque honoring King at Stone Mountain because of his “I Have a Dream” speech. The minutes say, “Ms. Meadows thanked Mr. Pozner for his comments and stated the board would look at his request.” The CEO of SMMA had in fact been considering a memorial as well, and he spearheaded the 2015 effort to get a bell tower built.

  • “It’s that bad”: a timeline of NRA’s recent inner turmoil

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Turmoil within the National Rifle Association was on full display during its 2019 annual meeting, when President Oliver North was forced out of his position amid reports of infighting and budget deficits and accusations of financial improprieties. The extremist pro-gun organization has been in chaos for months, and the infighting spilled into public view in March following the publication of a report on the exorbitant amount of money the NRA spends on a media operation, NRATV, that aired a particularly odious segment leaving several board members and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “livid and embarrassed.”

  • NRATV host calls judge's decision to give probation to child rapist "liberal leadership," but the judge is Republican

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    On the National Rifle Association’s media outlet, NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield blamed “liberal leadership” for a rapist who received no jail time -- even though the judge in the case is a registered Republican.

    On April 25, a former school bus driver in Watertown, NY, received 10 years' probation and “the lowest level status on New York’s sex offender registry” after he pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl. When issuing the ruling, Judge James P. McClusky pointed out that the defendant “had no prior arrests and that there was only one victim in the case,” according to The Washington Post.

    During the April 30 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, Stinchfield railed against McClusky’s decision, calling it an example of “liberal leadership” that “give(s) passes to the criminals.” Stinchfield went on to say that “actions have consequences,” which is “a staple of the justice system, unless of course you’re a liberal”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): You’ve got to be kidding me. Really? He made the choice to  do what he did. He made the choice to change that 14-year-old girl’s life forever, and somehow the judge buys into the fact that he’s sorry and we should feel sorry for him? No jail time needed? This is what liberal leadership is: Give passes to criminals. While the victim’s mother clearly isn’t happy about all this. Quote -- is what she says: “He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety. I wish he would have received jail time for the harm he caused to my child.” We all do, at least those of us with common sense and those of us who believe actions have consequences. A staple of the justice system, unless of course you’re a liberal.

    In reality, McClusky is a registered Republican and was endorsed by both the Republican and Conservative parties when he ran for the New York Supreme Court’s 5th Judicial District in 2011.

  • New NRA President Carolyn Meadows chairs the board of directors for the largest Confederate monument in America

    Smithsonian magazine: “The Georgia landmark is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Carolyn Meadows, who is succeeding Oliver North as president of the National Rifle Association, is also the chairperson of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, an organization that maintains the largest memorial to the Confederacy in the United States.

    Meadows, who sits on the NRA board of directors and was serving as the group’s second vice president, was elected president of the NRA during an April 29 meeting of NRA board members. She will succeed North, who was ousted from the NRA amid infighting that pitted a faction led by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre against North and Ackerman McQueen, an ad firm that is deeply enmeshed with the NRA and produces the NRA’s media operation, NRATV. LaPierre, who North said engaged in financial improprieties in his role as NRA CEO, was reportedly unanimously reelected CEO by the board.

    Meadows is listed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association website as chairperson of the organization’s board of directors. According to her site bio, “She has been actively involved in the Republican Party since 1964 and served as Georgia’s National Chairwoman for 12 years,” and she is also a board member of the American Conservative Union, the group that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

    Stone Mountain, GA, features an enormous relief carving that depicts Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback. A 2017 article in Smithsonian magazine notes that “the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain” and “is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy.”

    Stone Mountain is also closely associated with the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. KKK leader William Simmons “ushered in the modern era of the Ku Klux Klan, founding the Second KKK at the top of Stone Mountain on November 25, 1915,” in an event that included a cross burning and signaled “a new era of white nationalist terrorism,” according to Smithsonian magazine. Plans for the memorial were already being made at the time of the Klan ceremony, but the project ended up being shuttered for several decades and was only revived following right-wing anger over the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending school segregation. The monument was eventually completed in 1972.

    Meadows is not the only prominent NRA official to support Confederate symbols. NRA board member Ted Nugent, who was reelected during the 2019 NRA annual meeting, has long been an outspoken defender of the Confederate flag. Previous NRA President Jim Porter, who served two years as president beginning in 2013, was also an apologist for the Confederacy, having once stated, “NRA was started 1871 right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn't like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the 'War of Northern Aggression.'”

    The NRA often calls itself the oldest civil rights organization in America, although that isn’t true.

  • NRATV misrepresents what happened during Poway synagogue shooting to push pro-gun propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, broadcast a false retelling of the April 27 California synagogue shooting in order to credit an armed worshipper with “almost instantly” stopping the incident. In fact, the gunman was confronted and chased out of the synagogue by an unarmed worshipper.

    On April 27, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire in the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego, CA, killing one and injuring three others. According to witnesses, the gunman’s semi-automatic rifle jammed and that gave U.S. Army veteran Oscar Stewart an opportunity to chase him out of the building before another worshipper, Jonathan Morales, an off-duty Border Patrol agent, fired several shots at the gunman’s car. Stewart told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he “screamed as loud as he could” to startle the gunman before chasing him out to his car. Stewart then began punching the gunman’s car before the agent advised him to move out of the way so he could fire on the vehicle. The gunman was arrested a short time later after he pulled over and called 911 on himself.

    In a manifesto that he allegedly wrote before the shooting, the gunman claimed responsibility for setting a nearby mosque on fire in March, and championed previous hate crimes including the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA.

    During the April 29 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield erroneously claimed “the shooter was almost instantly chased out of the sanctuary by an off-duty Border Patrol agent with a gun.” He went on to say “That confrontation, I am convinced, prevented the shooter from killing others,” failing to mention the rifle malfunction or Stewart, who had actually rushed the gunman:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Religious leaders across America are on edge as a deranged, hate-filled teen entered a California synagogue killing one woman and wounding three others, including the rabbi. There is so much not being reported about this story that needs to be. This synagogue actually trained for an active shooter situation. The rabbi says that training saved lives. The shooter was almost instantly chased out of the sanctuary by an off-duty Border Patrol agent with a gun. No matter what you say, that confrontation, I am convinced, prevented the shooter from killing others. Then, even with all the California gun laws, the shooting still happened. With guns bans and waiting periods, mandates for classes, this vile human responsible still managed to get a gun and go on this rampage. These are the stories the mainstream media refuses to cover. Sometimes there are brief mentions of these issues, but almost always buried at the bottom of the piece. The strength of Americans is what should be celebrated after this horrific loss.

    NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch also retweeted frequent NRATV guest Amy Swearer misrepresenting the facts of the shooting.

    In the wake of the Christchurch shootings on March 15, Loesch also ran with an early and ultimately false report that a “good guy with a gun” fired at the gunman and stopped the incident. The gunman in that incident was actually confronted by a man who threw a credit card reader at him, but Loesch never issued a correction for her claim.