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  • NRA spokesperson calls pediatricians “irresponsible” for pointing out link between firearms and adolescent suicide

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch used her NRATV show to take on a doctor who recommended “a better strategy” to prevent teen suicide “is simply not to have a gun in the house.” Instead, Loesch argued to focus on homes where “the parenting is absent or subpar.”

    Loesch highlighted a November 30 article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that “the safest home for a kid is one without guns.” The article highlighted that “adolescents, in particular, are at a higher risk for suicide when there is a gun in the home” and mentioned the recent example of a local teenage girl, Ivey Mustaki, who died from suicide using her grandmother’s firearm.

    The NRATV host took particular issue with the article’s quotes from Dr. Daniel Blumenthal, a retired pediatrician and former president of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Blumenthal speculated that if the teenager’s family had “only known that there are far more gun-related suicides than homicides. If they’d only known that is it next to impossible to hide a gun from a teen, … perhaps Ivey would be alive today.” Blumenthal reiterated that “there are things individuals can do, and one of them is not have a gun in the house.”

    Loesch rejected the doctor’s recommendations, saying that maybe “a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar” is a problem, but it is “irresponsible” to “pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier.” Loesch suggested focusing on “the correct precautions” and called Blumenthal’s recommendations an attempt “to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America.” From the December 3 edition of NRATV’s Relentless:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): It seems a little bit like it’s trying to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America. And what’s lost in all of this is, what about making sure that Ivey had the mental help that she had needed, identifying maybe perhaps that she was going through depression and doing everything possible to make sure that she got the attention and the help that she needed in order to remedy the situation. I mean maybe perhaps taking just the correct precautions that millions of families across the country take every single day in determining how they would like to store their firearms -- how it works best for their own personal needs and their family’s needs -- maybe that would have been helpful in this situation. I mean there are definitely some instances when a firearm in a house -- a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar, where storage and responsibility and respect for privacy and/or life isn’t paramount. Then yeah, maybe we definitely need to have a conversation with those individuals about where their priorities are and how they’re storing things. But to pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier -- that this is somehow indicative of every gun-owning family across the country as opposed to an exception -- that in itself is irresponsible. Because if that were the case, then we would have far more of these awful instances than we do.  

    Contrary to Loesch’s claims, firearm suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “over half of suicide deaths are with firearms,” and 80 percent of child firearm suicides “involved a gun belonging to a family member.” While studies have found that nine out of 10 people who fail in their first attempt do not go on to die from suicide later, Everytown notes that firearm suicide attempts “are by far the most lethal, with a fatality rate of approximately 85 percent.”  

    While Loesch insisted that there is no connection between firearms in the home and suicide, an analysis of research conducted by the the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that “preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States.”

    The NRA was recently raked over the coals by medical professionals for suggesting that doctors should “stay in their lane” after the American College of Physicians released a position paper recommending several gun safety regulations from a medical perspective.        

  • Layoffs hit the NRA’s media operation NRATV

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A veteran producer for the National Rifle Association’s media operation, Cameron Gray, announced today that he and several of his colleagues had been laid off from NRATV.

    The layoffs follow reporting on the NRA’s most recent tax filings, which show a $55 million drop in revenue between 2016 and 2017.

    Gray was most often seen on NRATV as a producer and occasional guest host for Cam & Co., a weekday three-hour talk radio-style broadcast that covers gun issues as well as general conservative interest stories. Gray wrote on his LinkedIn profile that he has worked on the show since 2009. Cam & Co. was first launched in 2004 with host Cam Edwards as the flagship of the NRA’s media operation, which was then called NRA News. Cam & Co. was also broadcast on the Sportsman Channel beginning in January 2013 through its cancellation by the network in June 2015. It remains to be seen whether Cam & Co. will continue to be broadcast; the November 28 broadcast of the show was a repeat of the previous day’s episode.

    Media Matters has been a frequent critic of misinformation about gun violence that permeates Cam & Co.’s programming, most notably the show's incessant -- and incorrect -- argument that more permissive access to firearms leads to lower levels of gun violence and frequent false claim that guns are used to stop crimes more often than they are used to commit them.

    In October 2016, NRA News rebranded itself as NRATV with the aim of offering more live programming. NRATV broadcasts via online streaming at NRATV.com, on satellite radio, and through Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire. As with NRA News, NRATV’s operations are supported by the gun group’s advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen.

    The launch of NRATV in 2016 presaged a sharp change in tone for the NRA’s media operation. Going beyond misinformation about the debate over gun laws, new programming on the network struck such a hateful, bigoted, and conspiratorial tone that Media Matters termed the operation a “hybrid of Breitbart and Infowars.”

    NRATV has also essentially served as state TV for the Trump administration, in its early days attacking the press for reporting on then-candidate Donald Trump’s admission on tape that he has sexually assaulted women. The pro-Trump propaganda has continued since then, with one recent example being NRATV host Grant Stinchfield’s declaration that Trump was the real winner of the 2018 midterm elections, where Democrats won the House of Representatives by historic margins. New programming launched by NRATV also showed great hostility towards the First Amendment -- both in the tendency to attack peaceful protests against Trump and its often wildly unhinged attacks on press critical of the president.

  • NRATV tells people to run at active shooters

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton irresponsibly advised people who find themselves in an active shooter situation to charge the gunman and “take him out” as the first course of action. This potentially deadly advice is contrary to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidelines, which advise people in an active shooter situation to first attempt to escape, then hide and make barricades if escape is not possible, and finally “as a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate” the gunman.   

    During the November 27 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, host and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch highlighted a Northwestern University training video based on the DHS guidelines that urges students and faculty to first run if they hear gunshots, to hide if running isn’t feasible, and to fight “as a last resort.” Loesch specifically focused on the “fight” portion of the video, criticizing the suggestions of using “anything you can use as a weapon,” such as a fire extinguisher, during a “last resort” situation.

    Holton took particular issue with the “linear thinking” of run, hide, fight and called it “run, hide, and die,” arguing that victims will be waiting for their “turn to get a bullet to the head.” (Holton, in fact, misrepresented the guidelines, which do call for physically confronting the gunman as a last resort when other better options are exhausted and do not advocate waiting around to die.) He claimed, “It says a lot about our culture that we’re not training our sons that you need to be the hero” and instead suggested, “You find the guy that is hurting other people, you go after him, and you take him out.” Holton also added that if “you are a capable male in the American population, then your mindset should not be run, hide, and then fight. It should be find, fix, and finish,” apparently excusing women from his erroneous advice.

    CHUCK HOLTON (NRATV CORRESPONDENT): Look, I sit on the board of a company that does security training around the country and around the world. And I can tell you that people do want the ability to be able to protect themselves. But today’s culture kind of trains that out of them. And it says, “No, no, no, no, you can’t do that. Only people who are qualified and trained can do anything.” One of the things that they’re even seeing problems with in the U.S. military today is that guys are coming into the military that have literally never enforced their physical will on another being in their life. And so they don't have any idea how to do that. They’ve been taught in a zero-tolerance school for violence at all. And that’s not necessarily bad except for the fact that this is what you end up with.

    Now, look, instead of run, hide, and die, which is essentially what they’re training them to do -- I mean, if you think about it, if you are training them -- we didn’t get to show the rest of that video that Northwestern put out -- but the first two-thirds of that video is all about how to run away and how to hide. Look, if you’re in a wheelchair or you’re not capable, well, OK, fine. But if that is the linear thinking that we’re going to engage in, run and hide, then people are going to literally be waiting to die in a situation like that. They’re going to be coming in and just basically, go, hide, and wait your turn to get a bullet to the head. Every second in a situation like that, that you wait, somebody else is dying. And I think it says a lot about our culture that we’re not training our sons that you need to be the hero in this situation.

    Look, being a hero is chosen for you very often. You didn’t wake up that day, just like Col. [Oliver] North says, and think, “I’m going to be a hero today.” You’ve gotta be trained and prepared to be a hero every day. And one of the things I trained my sons is that wherever you go, people should be safer because you are there. And that means that if you find yourself in a situation like this and you are a capable male in the American population, then your mindset should not be run, hide, and then fight. It should be find, fix, and finish. That is, you find the guy that is hurting other people, you go after him, and you take him out. You do whatever you have to do. And if somebody’s got to die, you stand up and you go, “I am the one that’s willing to die today rather than Dana Loesch or that lady over there or that little kid. I am the one that’s willing to -- I am that man that’s is going to go in and take that guy out.” And I think we need to train our boys more in that line of thinking.  

    In reality, Holton’s irresponsible advice goes against DHS guidelines in its “Active Shooter: How To Respond” guide, which specifically tells people not to seek out the gunman as a first measure.

  • Confronted with photographs of tear-gassed children, far-right media cry hoax

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After news outlets published disturbing images of migrant children suffering the effects of tear gas fired by the U.S. Border Patrol at the Mexican border, an effort has emerged in far-right media circles to defend the indefensible by calling the photographs “staged.”

    Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at a group of roughly 500 migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on November 25. CNN reported that “video of the scene showed a cloud of tear gas that sent people running and screaming, including families with young children.” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen attempted to justify Border Patrol’s actions by claiming that some migrants “attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.”

    Some members of far-right media quickly responded to the incident by questioning the veracity of photographs showing children fleeing the tear gas.

    Disreputable website The Gateway Pundit published an article claiming that “the illegal alien mother ‘fleeing’ from the border wall was all a lie. It was a setup.” Calling the photograph a “hoax,” the article bizarrely argued that the border incident was a “photo-op” because the pictures show other people not running and some with cameras in the background.

    Gateway Pundit owner Jim Hoft promoted the article, which was authored by his brother Joe, on Twitter:

    Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the National Rifle Association’s NRATV operation, claimed that the photo was “staged” in a general sense “by people who helped this woman and her kids travel 1500 miles, by a media who encouraged her dangerous trek, by leftist orgs who assisted, facilitated and goaded her to take her children to a violent mob riot.”

    Holton, who has a lengthy history of promoting white nationalism and making racist comments, had repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that philanthropist George Soros was behind the migrant caravan -- a remarkably similar theory to the one that inspired a gunman to carry out last month’s massacre at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue.

    Holton’s NRATV colleague Grant Stinchfield claimed during a November 26 NRATV broadcast that the image is “propaganda at its best” and that “this whole thing was a set up job and the media complied.”

    The claim that the photographs from the tear gas incident were staged is also gaining traction on the far-right cesspool 4chan:

  • The fatal police shooting of Jemel Roberson disproves the NRA’s favorite myth

    NRATV struggled to not admit the obvious

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The fatal police shooting of an armed and trained security guard outside a bar, after he stopped a gunman from opening fire, provides further proof that the “good guy with a gun” myth peddled by NRATV is just that: a myth.

    On November 11, 26-year-old security guard Jemel Roberson “apprehended an alleged gunman” outside an Illinois bar, holding him on the ground at gunpoint until police arrived. According to witnesses, bar patrons were yelling to officers that Roberson was security, while officers demanded he drop his firearm before fatally shooting him. An investigation is underway.

    The National Rifle Association and its media outlet have long peddled the narrative that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and they have frequently suggested that the victims of mass shootings could have saved themselves had they been armed. During the November 13 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, NRA spokesperson and host Dana Loesch referred to Roberson as “a good guy with a gun, one of those individuals that anti-gun advocates love to pretend do not exist.”

    Loesch admitted the incident made her “worry a little bit” as a concealed carrier, and she questioned what good guys should do when they’re “that close” to the gunman “and law enforcement shows up.” NRA-certified instructor and frequent NRATV guest Guy Relford responded that there is “no perfect choice” between exposing “yourself to the risk of the known bad guy who is underneath you that you’re holding, or exposing yourself to the risk of being shot by police officers”:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): I worry about this as, you know, a concealed carrier, I worry about this as someone who -- you know, I’ve done a lot of training, and I always make sure that I have my skills up to speed if heaven forbid, you know, I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it in that situation. But I’ll be frank with you, stories like this make me worry a little bit. And not just for -- you know, for all Americans, Black Americans, white Americans, men and women, because this is one of the -- I think, one of the concerns that concealed carry holders have. So, how should concealed carriers look at this particular story and -- because, again, it makes me worried and if I’m feeling a little nervous about this, I would imagine other people are too.

    GUY RELFORD: If you can possibly avoid it, you do not want to have a gun in your hand when responding police officers show up, even if you’re the good guy. Now, here, he’s holding someone, you know, against their will. Did he have the ability to put that gun away or not have that gun in his hand or get that gun back in the holster before police officers arrived? And again, I don’t want to second-guess anyone without having more facts, but if there was any opportunity to get that gun out of his hand, not in the sight of police officers when they show up, we always want to try to do that because unfortunately this isn’t the first time that someone survived a potentially deadly attack and was completely lawful in what they did, but lost their life because of confusion by responding police officers.

    LOESCH: I am so glad that you brought that up, Guy, because in all of these -- and I’m sure that you can talk a little bit about this, last question for you, in some of the cases that you’ve handled, because normally in everything that I’ve read, whenever there’s been a defensive gun usage and someone is holding someone, there’s some distance there. You know, there’s at least five to three feet between the individuals. This -- I mean Roberson was on this guy, he had his knee on his back, and that makes it a little bit harder for him if this -- and who knows if this guy still -- we don’t even know if this guy still -- the criminal still had his gun in his hand. We don’t know that either. And then police show up -- you don’t really have a lot of time to make sure you’re in a safe position. If that criminal can access that firearm immediately, you kind of -- so, I don’t want to speculate, but at the same time, it’s such a rare instance, it’s a very difficult spot for anybody to be in when they’re doing the right thing. I mean, he was a security guard, he wanted to be on the police force, he had some training, so he knew what he was doing up until a certain extent. That gets into a real kind of gray area, what do you do when you’re that close and law enforcement shows up and maybe the perp still has his hand on the gun?

    RELFORD: Yes, and sometimes there may just be no good decision. I mean, there is no perfect choice between choosing whether you’re going to expose yourself to the risk of the known bad guy who is underneath you that you’re holding, or exposing yourself to the risk of being shot by police officers.

    Even though NRATV continually pushes the “good guy” narrative, statistics and anecdotal commentary from law enforcement repeatedly prove armed citizens rarely stop mass shootings or violent crime incidents. In 2016, the Dallas police chief anecdotally stated that this type of civilian action creates more confusion for responding officers. And a 2000-2013 FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents -- in which “individuals [were] actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in populated areas” -- found that only four incidents were stopped by armed security guards and one was stopped by a licensed and armed citizen, whereas 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed citizens. A 2015 analysis by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the likelihood of people sustaining an injury during a robbery didn’t change based on whether or not they were armed.

  • NRATV host Dan Bongino used doctored Infowars video of Jim Acosta in White House press briefing

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    One day after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a deceptively edited video of an exchange between CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and President Donald Trump, NRATV host Dan Bongino highlighted that same misleading video to attack Acosta.

    Acosta’s White House press pass was revoked following a contentious exchange during a November 7 briefing, when a White House intern attempted to take the microphone from Acosta while he was asking the president a question. During the interaction, “Acosta’s hand appeared to briefly brush” the intern’s arm, but Sanders later accused the reporter of “placing his hands on a young woman.” To bolster her accusation, Sanders then shared a deceptively edited video that originated from Paul Joseph Watson, editor at large of conspiracy theory website Infowars.com. The Washington Post noted that the video “appeared to have been altered to make [Acosta’s] actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.” 

    Bongino used that same deceptively edited footage for his coverage of the event on the November 8 edition of NRATV’s We Stand, despite multiple reports debunking the edited footage:

    DAN BONGINO (HOST): Acosta is claiming right now that he didn’t put his hands on this woman. This is a White House intern who has to move the mic -- folks, I worked in the White House for a long time, this is how this works. They walk the mic around. Jim Acosta -- now I don’t wanna overdramatize this, Denise was right before the show -- he didn’t attack her, it’s not a karate chop, he wasn’t trying to -- I sincerely doubt he was trying to hurt the woman, I would not even venture to go that far. But can we all acknowledge this is grossly inappropriate behavior? This is the president of the United States, he answered your question, move on. You don't put your mitts on the woman. It’s disgusting, you know I was very upset about this on Twitter yesterday. Have some dignity, Jim. Apologize and move on. This is the president of the United States, this young lady didn’t ask for this. She works for a living too, you know. Give up the microphone. Pathetic.    

    While admitting that Acosta didn’t “karate chop” the intern and wasn’t “trying to hurt” her, Bongino played the edited clip during the segment while calling Acosta “pathetic” and alleging that the CNN journalist put his “mitts on the woman.”

    Bongino is no stranger to Infowars, having appeared on the network multiple times from 2013 until 2016 with host Alex Jones, who was the chief architect of the conspiracty theory that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax