Following Loretta Lynch's historic confirmation as U.S. Attorney General, media have been silent about the implications for the National Rifle Association losing in a second consecutive high-profile nomination fight.
On April 23, Lynch was confirmed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 56 to 43 following a protracted effort by many Republicans in the Senate to stall or sink her confirmation. She will be the first African-American female attorney general in United States history.
A Media Matters review of major U.S. newspapers and television transcripts in Nexis and internal video archives following her confirmation did not identify any instance where the NRA was discussed in relation to Lynch.
But Lynch's confirmation provides more evidence that the NRA does not win every time. According to a tired -- and incorrect -- media narrative, the NRA is always successful in its federal lobbying efforts and also has the ability to punish legislators who refuse to support the gun group's agenda. Research on election outcomes has long-indicated, however, that the NRA in fact has little effect on politicians' Election Day results through endorsements or campaign spending.
Now the failure of the NRA to stop the confirmation of two high-profile Obama nominees -- Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December 2014 and now Lynch -- offers evidence that the NRA also does not always get its way in Congress
On March 14, the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, issued an alert that opposed Lynch's nomination and asked supporters to contact their Senators to urge them to vote against her. According to the alert, which referenced Lynch's support for assault weapons bans and attempted to tie her to predecessor Eric Holder, “Lynch would almost certainly have an impact on our Second Amendment rights.”
NRA-ILA added, “As we await Loretta Lynch's confirmation vote in the Senate, it is important that you immediately contact your Senators and ask them to OPPOSE her confirmation as U.S. Attorney General,” provided a way for readers to contact their Senator, and concluded, “Again, please take action and contact your U.S. Senators immediately.”
On March 19, The Hill reported that the NRA was one of several gun groups “making a vigorous push to stop the Senate from confirming Loretta Lynch as President Obama's next attorney general.”
The same day on the NRA's televised news show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards said, “Lawmakers there at the Capitol, U.S. Senators, are hearing from a lot of their constituents, hopefully they are hearing from you on this vote as well.”
During the confirmation fight, NRA News hosted guests to attack Lynch. On January 30, the NRA's radio show, also called Cam & Company, interviewed Catherine Engelbrecht, head of the Tea Party group True the Vote which has been accused of engaging in voter intimidation and pushed bizarre conspiracy theories about Holder. Engelbrecht, who had testified previously at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on Lynch, said of the then-nominee, “I just hope she doesn't turn out to be Eric Holder in a skirt.”
On March 6 the NRA aired an interview with Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and National Review Online contributor who frequently spreads misinformation about voter fraud. In the interview, von Spakovsky argued that Holder “has been waging a war on police departments, you know he has being going after them, his latest apparently is going to be Ferguson, I have no doubt that [Lynch] is going to continue that because she has the same biased views about race, unfortunately, that Eric Holder has.”
The NRA lost a similar nomination fight in December 2014, after it opposed surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy in a failed campaign that attempted to scandalize his statement that gun violence is a public health issue, a viewpoint commonly held by medical professionals.