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  • Major neo-Nazi website sees NRA’s recent hard-line messaging as its best hope to kill all Jewish people

    The Daily Stormer: “It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and join up with the country’s single effective pro-white organization intent on fully SMASHING THE JEW”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The Daily Stormer -- a major online hub for racists and anti-Semites that has followers who have committed mass murder -- has been telling its readers to join the National Rifle Association, as the neo-Nazis who run the website see a successful NRA as their best possible hope to see Jewish people subjected to another Holocaust.

    The Daily Stormer has been very pleased with the NRA’s hard-line messaging in the Trump era: As the neo-Nazi website itself notes, the NRA frequently singles out Jews as its political enemies and refuses to condemn anti-Semitic actions taken by members of its leadership. A February 2017 Daily Stormer article explained, “There is basically zero chance that [NRA leader Wayne] LaPierre and others in the top ranks of the NRA aren’t aware of the Jewish issue, especially as it relates to the second amendment. They’ve remained silent on this topic until now, scared of the media power that the Jews possess. But things are changing.”

    The Daily Stormer has frequently promoted NRA membership drives, including repeatedly linking to an NRA recruitment website and claiming,“The number 1 source of new recruits for the NRA has always been the Daily Stormer.”

    In articles posted on the website, Daily Stormer writers implore readers to join the NRA:

    According to The Daily Stormer, “The NRA is the country’s premiere pro-white and anti-Semitic organization. In fact, it is the only right-wing group of any kind in this country to have any success at all in the last 50 years.”

    The Daily Stormer clearly sees the NRA as a tool it can use to instigate wide-scale attacks against Jewish people. Here are a few pro-NRA threatening messages the site has posted:

    The Daily Stormer also posted a meme featuring NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch to threaten, “Our patience has its limits,” writing, “And guess what kikes? Your outrage machine is broken.”

    Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, The Daily Stormer backed the NRA’s calls for arming teachers, writing:

    The Daily Stormer is endorsing a plan to take it a step further, and arm the students as well.

    Say you’re in class, the teacher is writing something on the board, and a Jew pulls out a gun. The teacher has his back to the class and doesn’t see the Jew make his move – but you’re sitting behind him, and you’ve got a clean shot – why shouldn’t you be allowed to take it?

    The Daily Stormer is particularly enamored of five high-profile NRA employees: Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, President Oliver North, national spokesperson Dana Loesch, NRATV host Chuck Holton, and NRA board member Ted Nugent.

    The Daily Stormer has labeled LaPierre “/ourlad/” and “Reichsmarschall,” the highest military rank in Nazi Germany, and favorably called the NRA leader an “anti-Semitic white nationalist.” In particular, the site likes LaPierre because of a speech he gave after the Parkland school shooting in which he called opponents of the NRA “European-style socialists,” which, as The Daily Stormer explained, “everyone acknowledges, means ‘Jews’” or “the gun-grabbing kikes.” The Daily Stormer has favorably mentioned that LaPierre “gave a speech calling out the Jews as gun grabbers,” noted that LaPierre “purposefully pushed for an open war with the Jews,” and written that “he literally put out a Jew list, showing that everyone who disagrees with gun rights is a Jew. And he has to know, too. There is no way you list off a dozen Jews – and not a single goy – without noticing that pattern.” Indeed, LaPierre has frequently targeted Jews during his public remarks.

    In May, The Daily Stormer heaped praise on North after he became president of the NRA. An article on the neo-Nazi website argued, “The NRA just made a great pick for their new head. Great, great pick.” The website described North’s involvement in the Iran-Contra arms trafficking scandal as a positive, writing, “This is one guy who definitely does not give a single fuck about having a license to buy and sell weapons. For those who don’t know – the Iran-Contra ‘scandal’ was a program of selling weapons to Iran and using the money from that to fund communist-killing death squads in Latin America.” The article speculated that as president of the NRA, North could help arm Iran with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that the country could then use against Israel.

    The Daily Stormer also has a lot of praise for NRA national spokesperson Loesch, whom it calls “Princess Dana.” The site praised the gun group for not firing Loesch for her recently resurfaced 2010 tweet that said, “I bet Rick Sanchez was fired by a Jew.” (Sanchez was fired from CNN after he made anti-Semitic remarks about comedian Jon Stewart.) Loesch said that her tweet was meant to be an appeal to poetic justice. The Daily Stormer wrote that instead of firing her, the NRA “doubled-down by giving her a show about how she is going to destroy the Jews,” referencing promotional material for her NRATV show Relentless in which Loesch has threatened members of the media that their “time is running out.”

    The Daily Stormer has also praised Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the NRA’s media operation NRATV. During a July 2017 appearance on NRATV, Holton suggested that Black people were poised to commit mass rape and murder against white people while referencing “what’s happening in South Africa.” In response, The Daily Stormer wrote, “Holy shit! The NRA cited the White Genocide in South Africa as a warning to America!” Holton has a lengthy history of promoting white nationalism and making racist comments, and he has repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that Jewish philanthropist George Soros is behind the migrant caravan traveling through Central America and Mexico -- a remarkably similar theory to the one that inspired a gunman to carry out an anti-Semitic massacre at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue in October. The site is aware of NRATV and has disturbingly noted, “A NRA tv channel calling out ‘socialist corruption’ 24/7 would be the best thing ever, especially considering that all of these ‘European-style socialists’ are actually Jews.” (Three months after that Daily Stormer article was published and a day after an ISIS terror attack in Manchester, U.K., Holton argued on NRATV that “this wave of violence that we’re seeing across Europe is a symptom of the broader problem of multiculturalism and socialism.”)

    The Daily Stormer also lauded NRA board member Ted Nugent for sharing an anti-Semitic meme on Facebook without repercussions from the NRA, writing, “I’ve gotta give it to Ted. I expected an apology within hours. Instead he is just straight trolling these Jews. It’s fantastic.” In February, a Daily Stormer article defending the NRA as a friendly home for anti-Semites brought up the incident: “Remember another NRA spokesperson, Ted Nugent, posted that one meme a couple years ago… So, the NRA knows and the Jews know the NRA knows, and both sides want to escalate that.”

    The NRA’s recent adoption of more extreme messaging tactics is not lost on The Daily Stormer. As the neo-Nazis who run the website cheered in a March article, “The NRA is done with euphemisms.”

  • Trump's tweets directly repeated Hannity's talking points

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Since taking office, President Donald Trump’s relationship with chief Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity has been extensively documented, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the president is receiving inspiration for his daily rage tweets about the special counsel’s ongoing investigation from Hannity’s programming. Hannity, who has taken on the role as the face of the crusade against the special counsel, has desperately and almost comically spearheaded the public relations campaign to undermine the public’s trust in the investigation. And now, as the indictments of Trump associates and details of their crimes and possible cooperation agreements with the government begin to pile up and attract media coverage, the president is lashing out on Twitter, oftentimes employing language that can be traced back, nearly verbatim, to one person:

  • NY Times somehow outdoes itself in its awful coverage of the Wisconsin GOP’s antidemocratic power grab

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Wisconsin Republican legislators perverted representative democracy by passing sweeping legislation that strips powers from incoming Gov. Tony Evers solely because he is a Democrat. Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signaled he will sign the bills into law. The New York Times reported on this development with an article that ran with the title “Wisconsin Republicans Defiantly ‘Stand Like Bedrock’ in Face of Democratic Wins,” after first being published under the much more accurate headline “Wisconsin Republicans Approve Bills Stripping Power From Incoming Democratic Governor.”

    Defiance, at least to me, is speaking truth to power and not giving up no matter the odds against you. It doesn’t mean advancing anti-democratic laws and getting away with it because you know voters have a slim chance of holding you accountable since you rigged the system through gerrymandering. A better descriptor for that might be “cowardice.” (Even though Democratic candidates received 54 percent of votes in the 2018 midterm elections, they will hold just 36 percent of the state’s legislative seats, meaning they can’t simply reverse the power grab.)

    I live in Madison, WI, and I was at the capitol on Monday when the legislative package was first considered. I saw defiance there, but not the type the Times reported on. Defiance was the 1,426 Wisconsinites who spoke out against the bills -- compared to one person speaking in their favor -- as Republicans attempted to limit public comments. Defiance was the people who could not make it into the hearing room chanting so loud outside that it echoed throughout the capitol. Defiance was the crowds causing legislative staff to delay the hearing as staff members scrambled to open up multiple overflow rooms for the citizens who wanted to see how the power grab would play out. Defiance was also a local pizza shop giving out free food to sustain the protesters as they waited long hours to speak their minds. Defiance was the hundreds of people who showed up outside the capitol later that evening -- in the bitter cold -- to protest the bills.

    A natural question to ask regarding the New York Times headline (which has since been slightly modified to “Wisconsin Republicans Defiantly Move to Limit the Power of Incoming Democrats”) is where the “stand like bedrock” quote came from. It was Wisconsin Republican Speaker Robin Vos -- the racist, power-hungry architect of the package -- who laughably said after Wisconsin Republicans were trounced in the midterm elections, “We are going to stand like bedrock to guarantee that Wisconsin does not go back.” While Vos’ comment is petulant and antidemocratic to the point that it is newsworthy, the partial quote cited in the Times headline made it seem as if Republicans in Wisconsin were taking some sort of noble stand. As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer noted:

    Instead of getting his words splashed credulously in a Times headline, Vos should be the subject of extreme media scrutiny and righteous outrage. Shortly before Republicans passed the power-grab bills, Vos attempted to justify the move on Twitter by saying, “We have allowed far too much authority to move to the executive branch.” The state legislature -- presumably the “we” in Vos’ statement -- has been controlled by Republicans for the past eight years, coinciding with Walker’s governorship. But it is only now that Vos suddenly realized that the governorship is too powerful and the separation of powers in the Wisconsin government need to be radically changed.

    Other tweets by Vos in defense of the legislation have sparked an angry backlash; for example, he attempted to explain the power grab by arguing on Twitter, “The basic fundamental part of our democracy is compromise and negotiation.” (There was, of course, no compromise, as the Republicans control the legislature and can pass whatever law they want regardless of the views of their Democratic colleagues.) While “the ratio” of negative to positive responses to this tweet currently stands at around 100-to-1 on Twitter, it pales in comparison to the 1,462-1 ratio of Wisconsinites speaking against versus in favor of the power grab.

    Beyond the headline, the text of the Times article also fell short, characterizing moves by Republican legislators as merely “hardball” politics and describing Vos’ comment that incoming Gov. Evers’s agenda is not “evil” as “conciliatory.”

    The most recent Times coverage of Wisconsin follows another misstep from the newspaper, which in a previous article framed the power grab as a typical partisan dispute between Republicans and Democrats.

    The Times also covered the the Wisconsin GOP power grab in its podcast The Daily. While the podcast did provide fairly detailed background on what is happening, it fell far short in its framing of the issues. One part of the podcast focused on people protesting Walker as he lit the Christmas tree that stands in the capitol rotunda during the holiday season. Times reporter Mitch Smith said, “All these protesters -- people who did not come for the Christmas tree lighting -- start booing. And these poor kids, this high school choir -- they start singing these Christmas carols and this group of singing protesters drowns them out from the floor above, bellowing these kind of anti-Walker tunes of their own.” Obviously, no one was booing the kids. I’m sorry if the kids in the choir did actually feel bad, but the subversion of democracy that’s going on warrants some noise. I hope the ruckus made their visit more interesting and served as a lesson on how people can peacefully dissent against their elected officials.

  • Conservative defenses of the antidemocratic power grab in Wisconsin are scant, extremely stupid

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature move into the final stages of enacting an antidemocratic power grab, conservative media justifications for the move are few and far between. It’s difficult to defend the indefensible, so when conservative media figures have addressed the issue, their arguments fall flat.

    Following Wisconsin Democrats’ sweep of all of the statewide constitutional offices in the 2018 midterm elections, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature put forward a package of bills in a lame-duck session that would strip powers from Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker on Election Day, and limit other functions of the soon-to-be Democratic-controlled executive branch. Both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature passed the package on December 5 following an all-night session, and the legislation now awaits Walker’s signature. In addition to the antidemocratic stripping of powers from the incoming administration, the package includes other odious provisions such as a tax cut that will only benefit couples who make more than $200,000 a year.

    Right-wing media has been largely silent on the story, perhaps because many conservative media figures don’t feel the need to stick their necks out over something so obviously wrong when the Wisconsin GOP doesn’t need any help pushing the measure through. Due to rampant gerrymandering, Democrats will hold just 36 percent of state legislative seats during the next session despite winning 54 percent of the statewide vote, meaning they will be unable to reverse the Republicans’ power grab. Legal challenges to the measures, however, are sure to follow.

    The few conservative media defenders of the GOP power grab haven’t made very good arguments. Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey published an article lightly chiding Wisconsin Republicans for “graciously relieving [Evers] of some of Scott Walker’s old workload.” While acknowledging that what is happening is not fair, Morrissey excused it, saying that this is “the real world” and that (emphasis original) “the impulse behind this effort may well be understandable” because of the possibility “Democrats wouldn’t have played fair with executive authority without those restrictions.”

    Rush Limbaugh's producer James Golden, who goes by the pseudonym Bo Snerdley, reacted to the package’s passage in a tweet, saying “Democrats just hate losing.” (Democratic candidates in Wisconsin received 190,000 more votes in the 2018 elections than Republican candidates.)

    And on his radio show, MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt said complaints about the power grab are “falling on deaf ears with me” because “you got to go back to November and December and January of 2016 and early ‘17 when they were reminding us only one president at a time.”

    HUGH HEWITT (HOST): There is controversies about elections in North Carolina and in the aftermath of elections in Wisconsin and Michigan where defeated Republicans are limiting the powers of the incoming Democrats. By the way, people who are objecting to that, you got to go back to November and December and January of 2016 and early ‘17 when they were reminding us only one president at a time. … No one was complaining then about using all your powers until the end of your term, so that’s falling on deaf ears with me.

    This is an extremely poor line of reasoning to defend the GOP’s power grab in Wisconsin. Hewitt’s reference to “controversies” in North Carolina is a case where supporters of a Republican House candidate may have literally stolen the election through fraud, and his reference to Michigan is about a similar GOP legislative power grab. But Hewitt’s argument fails completely in his false equivalence between Wisconsin Republicans and the final months of the Obama administration. What the Obama administration did in its last months was an attempt to shore up legitimate actions it had taken under existing executive branch norms; the administration didn’t seek to change the system entirely. Any actions taken by the Obama administration could be checked by an incoming Republican president (who lost the popular vote) and a Republican Congress, while Wisconsin Republicans are attempting to radically alter their state government’s separation of powers.

    Courtney Hagle contributed research to this post.

  • Mainstream media botch coverage of Wisconsin and Michigan Republicans' post-election power grabs

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    As Republican legislators in Wisconsin and Michigan move to strip powers from incoming Democratic governors, the press is failing to fulfill its responsibility to report on these antidemocratic power grabs. Network morning and evening news shows have refused to cover the stories at all, while a poorly framed New York Times article gave the impression that the power grab in Wisconsin is politics as usual.

    In Wisconsin, Republican legislators are advancing a package of bills in a lame-duck session that would strip powers from Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Republican Scott Walker on Election Day, and limit other functions of the soon-to-be Democratic-controlled executive branch. The final vote could occur as early as today, December 4. Because of GOP gerrymandering, Democrats will hold just 36 percent of state legislative seats during the next session despite winning 54 percent of the statewide vote, meaning they will be unable to reverse the power grab. Likewise, Republicans in the lame-duck Michigan legislature are attempting to strip powers from Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer and from other statewide offices that will soon be held by Democrats. As in Wisconsin, Republicans control the legislature due to gerrymandering.

    Rather than treating these moves as alarming threats to democracy, many major media outlets are ignoring the stories or covering them poorly.

    A December 3 New York Times article on the Wisconsin power grab that ran under the headline “Stung by Election Losses, Republicans in the States Seek a Way to Neutralize Democrats” is being criticized on social media for normalizing the Wisconsin GOP’s actions. Critics say it frames the issue as a typical partisan dispute between two opposing political parties. Some excerpts (emphasis added):

    • “When Democrats won the governor’s office in Wisconsin, it was one of the party’s most celebrated midterm successes in regaining power in the states. Now Republicans are striking back, moving to slash the power of the new governor even before he takes the oath of office.”
    • “Democrats reacted with fury, crowding the halls of the State Capitol in Madison on Monday and accusing the Republicans of trying to undo an election they had lost.”
    • “For Wisconsin, a state that both parties will urgently vie to win in 2020 elections, it was one more sign of the ferocious partisan split that has rippled through the state in recent years.”

    Apparently out of reluctance to be seen as taking a side, the Times was unable to describe what is happening in Wisconsin as the extraordinary affront to democratic norms that it is.

    Meanwhile, major network news shows haven't discussed the unusual power grabs unfolding in either state. Between Election Day on November 6 and December 4, CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt, NBC’s Today, ABC’s World News Tonight With David Muir, and ABC’s Good Morning America failed to cover either story.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched available transcripts for ABC, CBS, and NBC in Nexis for the words "Michigan" and "Wisconsin" between November 6 and December 4 and searched transcripts in the iQ media database for the words "Michigan" and "Wisconsin" on December 3 through December 4.

  • Paul Ryan’s sore-loser comments about California House races don’t merit serious attention

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently complained that “ballot harvesting” led to many California House races being called for Democrats days or weeks after Election Day, garnering significant press coverage. But why should anyone care about the conspiratorial whining of a retiring congressman who was unwilling to defend his own seat in the 2018 midterms?

    If Ryan -- who has an undeserving reputation in some mainstream press circles as a serious statesman -- wants to talk about fairness and elections, he should speak out about North Carolina’s 9th District. In that race, evidence has emerged that Republican candidate Mark Harris’ staff or supporters may have attempted to steal the election by throwing away and altering absentee ballots. Or he should speak out about two GOP-controlled legislatures -- one in his home state of Wisconsin -- that are attempting to pre-emptively strip powers from incoming Democratic administrations solely because the Republicans don’t like the election outcomes.

    Ryan complained about California House race results during a November 29 appearance at a Washington Post event, claiming that a vote counting procedure used in California that causes a delay in final counts led to “a very, very strange outcome.” He added, “When you win the absentee ballots and you win the in-person vote, where I come from, you win the election.” Ryan said that he wasn’t “saying there’s anything nefarious about it, … but we believed we were up about six seats in California the night of the election, now I think we lost just about every single one of those.” (The Washington Post write-up of his remarks even noted, “Ryan said he wouldn’t go so far as to ask the state attorney general to review the results but suggested that The Washington Post should write a story about it,” suggesting Ryan knows in his heart that his complaints are whiny bullshit that only plays in the press.)

    What Ryan is complaining about -- a process that has pejoratively been called “ballot harvesting” -- is California’s election procedure, which intentionally takes time to determine the legitimacy of provisional ballots and count those that are valid. In other words, it’s pro-representative democracy.

    Conservative outlets, nonetheless, are championing Ryan’s comments as evidence of a Democrat-led voter fraud conspiracy or, at a minimum, support for the backward notion that California’s process is unfair. In one instance, a Townhall article with the headline “‘Ballot Harvesting,’ California Dems’ Latest Election Stealing Tool” noted, “The statewide results even drew the attention of the normally squishy soon-to-be former House Speaker Paul Ryan.” Some mainstream outlets uncritically regurgitated Ryan’s conspiratorial claims in headlines, with The Hill writing, “Ryan casts doubt on 'bizarre' California election results,” and Politico claiming, “GOP cries foul after California thumping.”

    Ryan’s disingenuousness is also evidenced by an anti-democratic power grab being attempted in his own backyard that he hasn’t found the gumption to speak out about. Despite racist attempts by Republicans to suppress votes in Wisconsin, Democrats were victorious in all elections for statewide constitutional offices on November 6, with the late-night count of absentee ballots pushing Democrat Tony Evers ahead of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. In response to Walker’s defeat, the GOP legislature is poised to pass a package of bills that will strip huge numbers of powers from the executive branch.

    While Ryan’s California comments have received a great amount of press attention, what is happening in Wisconsin has not:

    If Ryan wants to whine to the press about elections and fairness, he should be forced to talk about Wisconsin, or about a similar effort by Republicans in Michigan, or about North Carolina’s 9th District.

  • Fox News desperately insists Michael Cohen’s (other) guilty plea means “absolutely nothing”

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    After President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to “lying to Congress about the timing and extent of his negotiations,” on behalf of the Trump Organization, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow -- his second guilty plea to a federal crime in three months -- Trump’s sycophants and defenders in the media are proclaiming that Cohen’s guilty plea means “absolutely nothing.” By furiously attempting to spin the potentially devastating news as “a nothingburger,” right-wing media are simply picking up where they left off in August after Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws on Trump’s behalf. And even though Trump’s stooges in the media have openly worried about what may come next for some time now as the special counsel investigation continues, they continue to wage their public relations campaign with laughable spin: