Fox News Radio host Alan Colmes confronted Gun Owners of America (GOA) executive director Larry Pratt with several of Pratt's inflammatory comments. Media outlets frequently give Pratt a platform to push for weaker gun laws without pressing him on his extremist views.
Pratt, whose GOA group is considered to the right of the National Rifle Association, is one of the founding members of the 1990s militia movement and has had past associations with white supremacists. He often appears on fringe right-wing radio shows to offer incendiary commentary, recently stating that Obama supports stronger gun laws to keep Americans from using firearms “to keep people like him from becoming tyrants.”
But Alan Colmes provided a textbook case of how interviewers should handle Pratt during a November 18 interview on his radio show, forcing the gun activist to address and expound on past comments suggesting politicians should fear being shot by GOA supporters and that President Obama may foment a race war.
Colmes mentioned Pratt's background as “one of the godfathers of the militia movement” and repeatedly asked Pratt whether he thought politicians should be afraid of being shot, several times garnering Pratt's explicit endorsement of the idea:
COLMES: Is it your belief that you -- in fact you have been quoted a number of times saying that politicians should have a healthy fear of being shot because such fears are a way to make sure they behave.
PRATT: Well ultimately if they push too hard that could happen.
COLMES: But this notion that our politicians should have a quote “healthy fear” of being shot. You support that idea?
PRATT: Sure that is what the Second Amendment is all about.
COLMES: About fear in our elected officials that they could be shot?
PRATT: Sure, because otherwise we have fear from them cause they have guns and when they start imposing their will tyrannically, when they start doing things such as what happened at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, then it's time that the people, in this case, the [Bureau of Land Management], be put on notice that you are not going to be allowed to do that.
COLMES: So you like the idea, you want to instill fears in the hearts of our elected officials, that they could be shot.
PRATT: Otherwise I'm not quite sure how else we restrain them.
Colmes also asked Pratt to address a February 2013 appearance on fringe right-wing radio host Stan Solomon's show. While hosting Pratt, Solomon warned of an Obama-fomented race war after Pratt said it was likely that Obama would cause “some kind of social implosion” that pitted “neighbor-against-neighbor.”
Solomon predicted, “I believe that in the year 2013 we're going to see an explosion of attacks on haves by have-nots. But more specifically on white haves by black have-nots; more specifically on Christian, heterosexual white haves by black, Muslim and/or atheist -- not that there's much difference -- black have-nots.” Pratt agreed, saying, “I don't think there's anything stretching to say that.”
Colmes drilled down on Pratt's appearance on Solomon's show. Pratt initially claimed that he was talking about government forces dressed in black and had not referenced race. But after Colmes provided more detail, making it clear Pratt had in fact agreed with Solomon's race war theory, Pratt acknowledged, “Well that would seem to be something the president wouldn't mind seeing.” Pratt later said of a race war, “If that were something that the president could utilize then he would certainly do it.”
Journalist Alexander Zaitchik, who profiled Pratt for RollingStone.com in July, recently discussed how the media treats Pratt in a joint video project by The American Independent Institute (which funded Zaitchik's profile) and gun safety group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Zaitchik said that “a big part” of why Pratt has been booked by national media outlets despite his history of extremism “is just attention span, and time, and, you know, historical memory is getting shorter and shorter” and that bookers and producers “don't do a lot of research before they book a guest.”
He also noted that Pratt tends to “drop bombs” on “smaller, right wing radio shows” and that some of Pratt's comments have “gotten him in some hot water when it's come to light, but that he would never -- he is smart enough to know these are not things you should be saying when you are on national television.”
The American Independent Institute is headed by Media Matters founder David Brock.