This morning, the right-wing Daily Caller announced the launch of a new website section called Guns and Gear. According to their press release, “The section will include everything from the latest news about armed citizens defending themselves and their property, to coverage of Second Amendment policies and politics, to reviews of the latest guns and gear.”
Publisher Neil Patel is quoted in the release saying that “The millions of Americans who own and are interested in guns are currently without the sort of daily news coverage that is allotted to most other American interests.” But if the section's current content is any guide, the Caller has decided that the best way to provide this “daily news coverage” is to republish articles and press releases directly from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Take a look:
The top of the web page currently features one op-ed from top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox; links to three previous Cox columns; a reposted November NRA press release highlighting “Twelve Big Wins for Gun Owners”; and a gun review from the NRA publication Shooting Illustrated. Oh, and two ads for the NRA; apparently purported news outlets can make money republishing content from interest groups.
Further down the section, readers find additional republished NRA press releases, more Cox op-eds, more NRA web ads, and reposted articles from NRA publications American Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated, and American Rifleman. There are currently only seven pieces of content on the section's front page labeled as coming from The Daily Caller. Of those, three are articles that were originally published at Human Events and three are sets of links to gun manufacturers, state gun clubs, and gun owner manuals. The last is an article headlined “The War on Christmas.”
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the Caller has apparently decided to rely on the gun lobby for its “daily news coverage” of gun issues. The press release lists Mike Piccione as the section's editor, with editor in chief Tucker Carlson stating, “Mike Piccione knows more about firearms and self-defense than anyone in journalism. We're grateful to have him editing this new section.” According to his Human Events bio, where he worked as editor of the newsletter Guns & Patriots, Piccione is “a NRA Marketing Manager.”
For most publications, this kind of ethical cesspool would lead to apologies, internal debates about standards, and some soul-searching. At the Caller, it's just another Wednesday.
UPDATE: TBD.com reports:
“We've had the section for 13 hours,” Caller founder (and lifelong hunter) Tucker Carlson told me, when asked about the dearth of original content in the section. “The NRA produces a lot firearms-related content, so I imagine we'll always have a lot of content from them.... Ideally, all of the content on the site would be, and will be, staff written.”
Guns and Gear is not, he assured me, a special advertising section. “It may be, right now from Northern Virginia, you're only getting NRA ads,” he said. “If the question is, 'Is this sponsored in perpetuity by one organization?,' the answer is no. It's a news section that's populated by news content, and you can judge that yourself by reading it.” He added, “I can think of a whole bunch of advertisers who will be advertising in the section.”