Following widespread criticism over an inflammatory video from the National Rifle Association that called on supporters to use the “clenched fist of truth” against critics of President Donald Trump, the organization has repeatedly doubled down and issued more statements that falsely conflate dissent against Trump with violence. The organization proceeded to lob smears against Women’s March participants and co-founders after they announced an 18-mile march to protest the NRA on July 14.
NRA released a widely condemned video featuring national spokesperson Dana Loesch
NRATV’s Dana Loesch appeared in an inflammatory ad targeting the resistance movement against President Trump. The NRA video narrated by spokesperson Dana Loesch characterized dissent against President Donald Trump as the “violence of lies” and said it should be countered with “the clenched fist of truth.” The video claimed that in their opposition to Trump, left-wing Americans “scream racism, and sexism, and xenophobia, and homophobia [and] smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.” She went on to say the only way to “save our country and our freedom” is with “the clenched fist of truth.” [NRATV, 4/7/17]
Women’s March group announced July 14 march in response to recent NRA actions
Women’s March organizers announced a march from NRA headquarters to the Department of Justice. The Women’s March organizers announced a July 14 protest at NRA headquarters followed by an 18-mile march to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The march, in part, comes in response to the NRA video, “which insinuates that ‘law-abiding’ citizens need to arm themselves against violent anti-Trump protesters,” according to HuffPost. The Women’s March organizers said they hope the NRA will take down the video and issue an apology:
Women’s March organizers have announced that they will host a protest against the NRA.
The protest, which will be held in Virginia on July 14 and 15, is in response to a recent ad published by the NRA which insinuates that “law-abiding” citizens need to arm themselves against violent anti-Trump protesters. The ad, which featured conservative talk-show host Dana Loesch, was widely criticized, with many people calling out the NRA for publishing such a dangerous and outrageous video.
Included in the backlash was an open letter from Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory, written to the Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre. In her letter, Mallory demanded that the NRA take down the dangerous ad and apologize to the American people.
According to a Facebook event created by the Women’s March, the protest against the NRA will take place on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 in Fairfax, Virginia. The rally will begin on July 14 at 10:00 AM in front of the NRA headquarters in Fairfax. At noon, the 18-mile march from the NRA headquarters to the Department of Justice in DC will begin. The rally at the Department of Justice will begin at 10:00 AM on July 15. [HuffPost, 7/5/17]
A look back at the NRA’s controversies leading up to the march
NRATV’s “clenched fist of truth” video was reposted to Facebook, igniting widespread condemnation. On June 28, the NRA video was reposted to the group’s Facebook page, where it generated waves of criticism. NRATV promoted the video on Facebook as “Loesch tak[ing] on the left’s violence of lies.” [Facebook, 6/28/17; The Washington Post, 6/29/17; The New York Times, 6/29/17]
Loesch doubled down on the video and said she was “proud” of the controversial ad. During the June 29 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, Loesch called the video “fantastic” and said it “holds up a mirror to the violent aspects of the left.” Loesch went on to say she was “proud” of the video and “endorse[d]” it “personally”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Dana, this video is like two and a half months old. I’m glad it's getting attention, it got some attention before. More people to watch it, the better in my book.
DANA LOESCH: Absolutely, and Grant, I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I am proud of this ad. I endorse personally the message of this ad. It’s a fantastic ad and it holds up a mirror to the violent aspects of the left. And, Grant, we have seen this time and time again. We saw this violence in Chicago during the campaign for the general election. We saw this violence in the streets of Washington, D.C., during the inauguration -- where there were not just a few, mind you, but a number of a very far leftists who thought that breaking store windows, arson, property damage, physical assault, setting fires in the middle of the street, et cetera, et cetera -- that these were all forms of protected speech and that they were generally acceptable forms of dissent to a fair election. And then of course, Grant, we have seen time and time again on college campuses, individuals react so physically, hostilely to a simple difference of opinion. And so they set fire on their college campuses and once again we see arson, and we see property destruction, and we see physical assault over and over again. I know, Grant, that I don't have to remind you or anyone else of what happened sadly just two weeks ago when a leftist went to a ballfield with a list of Republican congressmen and decided to open fire on GOP congressional members because they were simply Republicans. Now with this ad, Grant, when I say the clenched fist of truth, I mean the clenched fist of truth. And this is where I get the inspiration for that line. Everybody knows what this is, right? Everybody can recognize this? It’s the symbol of the resistance movement. It’s the symbol of the movement that by and large has sanctioned the violence of which I speak. It has sanctioned the arson, and the property destruction, and it has sanctioned the physical assault. So, I didn’t say meet fist with fist. And I didn’t even mention anywhere in this ad to go and purchase a firearm. I specifically, Grant, said clenched fist, not of physical altercation like they promote, but of truth. Meeting in the battleground of ideas, meeting that violence with simple truth and simple, peaceful ideas. That is what we have always been about, and even in the face of continued aggression and violence and destruction from the left, that is what we will continue to be about. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 6/29/17]
NRATV hosts say they will never apologize for the video. Despite repeated calls for the NRA to apologize for the video, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield said that “we never will” and asked, “Why would we apologize for the truth and exposing … liberals for what they are? Chaos creators.” Loesch insisted there is nothing wrong with the video and said, “I stand by it 100 percent.” She claimed that critics of the ad are “the individuals who sanction arson, who sanction property destruction, who sanction assault of innocent people who simply want to attend a rally." From the June 30 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): That one line has liberals going crazy. The clenched fist of truth. Truth is a word. It is our main weapon in the war on words that is going on throughout America today. The liberals want us at the NRA and NRATV to apologize for that message. We are not going to apologize for that -- we never will. Why would we apologize for the truth and exposing the truth and liberals for what they are? Chaos creators.
DANA LOESCH: Back when this ad was taped, it was actually right before the NRA annual meetings, and it was put online back in April. And there wasn’t really a lot said about it. And normally, when something goes viral, you can track the momentum of that. If it's an organic viral thing, you can track the buzz, you can track the momentum, and you can actually watch it trend as more and more people talk about it and it becomes popular. What was interesting about the reaction to this video is that it hit the day before yesterday, later in the day, all of a sudden. There was no organic movement of it. It was just immediately a bunch of people who are roughly associated, DeRay McKesson and Shannon Watts and other individuals, all tweeted about it relatively at the exact same time and then started pushing the racism element – accusing me of being a racist and accusing me of inciting in this video. It was an organized effort not only to try to put a dent in the armor of the gun rights movement, but it was also an effort by the left, by the individuals who sanction arson, who sanction property destruction, who sanction assault of innocent people who simply want to attend a rally, and it was an attempt to squelch out any criticism or any dissent of those illegal actions that they masquerade and push out there as some form of protected peaceful protest. Which it isn’t. Again, there is nothing wrong in this video. I stand by it 100 percent and every attempt to intimidate me or shut me down is only going to make me talk louder. I enjoy confrontation like this and I enjoy a good fight, and look, there is a difference between peaceful assembly and violent riots. And that’s exactly – I don’t know how much more clearer I can be with the people who read with pictures. I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be made. I am telling people that the arson and the property destruction and the assault is bad, Grant. While literal actual footage of arson and property destruction and assault is either playing behind me or its included as an excerpt in this video. And so for the individuals out there -- and this is what really sends a chill down my spine, Grant -- the individuals out there that conflate peaceful protest with violent riots and insist that they are the same thing.
STINCHFIELD: Yeah and they are not, and so I believe that when you talk about Shannon Watts and the Michael Bloomberg group Everytown for Gun Safety, I do believe they were probably sitting around a table, they've got nothing else to do, they are losing every war that they try to fight against guns, and they come up and they say well let’s get back to this video, and let’s get the mainstream media on board, and they concocted a whole plan to roll this out. And in many respects for them it worked, but the reality is it also works for us Dana, because that video is now been seen by more eyes than they ever would have wanted it to be seen and I promise you there are more people that agree with everything you said in that video than don’t, and it’s finally getting the play that it deserves. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 6/30/17]
NRATV released a follow-up video that smeared critics. During a four-minute follow-up video posted on July 1, Stinchfield told those “having a meltdown” over Loesch’s initial video to “get over yourself.” He went on to criticize Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, telling her to “grow up.” He also claimed anti-police brutality activist DeRay McKesson, who criticized the original NRA spot, is a “professional rioter” who has organized riots that injured police officers. Stinchfield closed by insisting an apology will “never happen” and saying that “we stand firm with the clenched fist of truth.” [NRATV, 7/1/17]
NRATV attempted to characterize the Women’s March as violent by showing footage from a different and entirely unrelated event. On July 7, NRATV commentator Chuck Holton attempted to characterize the January 21 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., as “certainly not peaceful” by conflating it with the unrelated property damage that occurred the day before, on Inauguration Day. While guest host and NRATV commentator Bill Whittle said he had Holton on to talk about the Women’s March, Holton proceeded to talk about the Inauguration Day incidents -- while showing video of windows being broken -- conflating the two unrelated events. From the July 7 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:
BILL WHITTLE (GUEST HOST): Chuck, we’re probably wondering why we’d bring a tough guy like you into a story about a woman's march, but what I find very interesting is that you have in fact been on some of these so-called peaceful left-wing marches and they’re not exactly as they’re advertised, are they?
CHUCK HOLTON: Well, they’re certainly not peaceful. And they’re certainly not even protests. What they are is sort of temper tantrums by spoiled children is the best way I can describe them. And when I was at the Inauguration Day protest in Washington, D.C., this is the thing that really struck me is that these people have no sense of irony. They have -- they don’t get that here they are protesting fascism and they’re using fascist tactics. When they were going around breaking windows and setting cars on fire, and then the police came and did what police do when you break windows and set cars on fire -- that is, start arresting people -- they started chanting, “This is what a police state looks like.” Over and over again. “This is what a police state looks like.” And I kept thinking, no, this is what it looks like when you act like an idiot. This is not what a police state looks like; this is what it looks like when you burn cars and break windows. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 7/7/17]
NRATV released a third video claiming opponents of Trump are an “organized anarchy.” The NRA released a third video on the topic, featuring NRATV commentator Dom Raso, who conflated isolated incidents of violence with the entire resistance movement. For example, the video sought to connect property damage on Inauguration Day with remarks made by civil rights hero and well-known nonviolence proponent Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Raso slammed resistance protesters by playing footage of concentration camps from a Holocaust documentary to show what “fascism is.” [NRATV, 7/9/17]
Loesch: Women’s March co-founder “believes in overthrowing U.S. government for Sharia law.” During the July 10 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, Loesch smeared Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour by claiming she believes in “overthrowing the U.S. government in support of Islamic jurisprudence”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Explain to us exactly who [Linda] Sarsour is, for those of us – for those of them at home that don’t know who she is.
DANA LOESCH: Linda Sarsour is the head of the Women’s March, she is the main organizer of the Women’s March, she works with Everytown, she partners with people like Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts. She works with Black Lives Matter, she believes in Sharia, meaning the full Sharia, she believes in overthrowing the U.S. government in support of Islamic jurisprudence and at a rally at a very controversial North American Islamic conference where in 2001, Grant, Anwar al-Awlaki spoke and she thanked her mentor before she went on this 20-minute rant. Her mentor, Grant, is one of the unindicted co-conspirators from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. And she believes in overthrowing U.S. government for Sharia law. And she called jihad against the White House. [NRATV, 7/10/17]
NRATV correspondent said Women’s March participants “could use some fresh air.” NRATV correspondent Holton told Stinchfield that he would be covering the July 14 march before questioning how participants “plan to march 17 miles.” Holton went on to add he’s “all for” the march, saying, “I’ve been to the Women’s March in January. Most of those women could use some fresh air.” From the July 11 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (Host): Lastly Chuck, before you leave, the Women’s March this Friday -- you are going, correct?
CHUCK HOLTON: Yes, they’ve asked me to go and cover the Women’s March. I’m going to fit right in, I’m sure.
HOLTON: But yeah, we’ll be there at the Women’s March and we’ll be covering that. We’ve been asked to go. I don’t know how they plan to march 17 miles from the NRA to the Department of Justice. I’ve been to the Women’s March in January. Most of those women could use some fresh air, I think, so I’m all for it. But we’ll see what happens. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 7/11/17]
NRATV host: “So after this troll march, then what? You all meet … for boxed wine & binge watching #RHOA?” NRATV host Colion Noir asked on Twitter if participants of the “troll march” will gather later to drink “boxed wine” and watch reality TV:
NRATV host made the evidence-free claim that protesters against the NRA will be paid to take part. Stinchfield said participants in the Women’s March against the NRA are paid protesters and questioned “if they still get their paycheck” if they don’t complete the 17-mile march. From the July 12 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): The Women’s March on the NRA this week is claiming to have, get this, 158 organizations joining them in a 17-mile march from NRA headquarters to the Department of Justice. Good luck with that. Seventeen miles is a long way and judging by the last crowd, I’m not sure any of them make it. My guess is they will cheat, just like they do on the issues, and have a bus ready for the rescue. Newsbusters is saying that the groups are all funded by billionaire gun-hater George Soros. I’m sure they are. The figure Newsbusters uses is $90 million. That’s a lot of money to spend on an anti-gun lobby group that never really wins. If the paid protesters don’t make it the full 17 miles, my thought is, I wonder if they still get their paychecks. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 7/12/17]