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Standing before a raucous crowd of supporters in April 2015 during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, the group’s longtime leader Wayne LaPierre snarled into the microphone, “Eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough!”
One and a half years later, LaPierre got his wish as an aging white man again captured the presidency.
In a promotional video published by the NRA on January 3, three weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, LaPierre stood before a shadowy backdrop at the NRA studios, looked into the camera, and said, “We are Donald Trump's strongest, most unflinching ally. The powerful partner he needs to get things done on behalf of American freedom. Join our ranks. Donate to our cause. And together, we will truly make America great again.”
Though Trump had already won the election by that time, LaPierre still adopted a defiant and apocalyptic tone fitting of the NRA’s siege mentality; he castigated the press, called out conservative groups for abandoning Trump after he bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women, and warned viewers of enemies at every turn.
During the presidential campaign, the NRA had broken its own spending records in Trump's support and now it was time for the organization to try to cash in. In the video, LaPierre claimed that Trump was “the most openly pro-Second Amendment presidential candidate in history” -- glazing over the fact that Trump previously supported several gun safety measures that would normally be disqualifying violations of NRA orthodoxy.
Despite Trump’s past stances, the NRA and Trump were the perfect political match. The then-president-elect and the country’s foremost gun group shared an affinity for culture war rhetoric, driven by white racial grievances, retrograde views of women, and anti-immigrant, anti-free press, and pro-authoritarian sentiments. They also shared a penchant for spreading division through fearmongering and peddling conspiracy theories.
On Inauguration Day, the NRA flipped a switch, pivoting from a group that often raised the spectre of violent insurrection against a presidential administration it didn’t like to a group that now raises the spectre of violence against critics of a presidential administration it loves.
In its efforts to back the president’s every move during his first year, the NRA turned to its media outlet NRATV, the gun group’s primary messaging mechanism. The NRA has had its own media operation for 13 years. Launched in 2004, it was originally known as NRA News, and largely revolved around a weekday three-hour program inspired by talk radio called Cam & Company. In October 2016, the outlet was rebranded and expanded as NRATV, a 24-hour online stream of expanded live programming and pre-recorded segments.
The personalities brought on to fill the airtime were decidedly Trumpian.
The NRA hired Texas-based conservative radio host Grant Stinchfield to anchor the most prominent addition to the lineup, an eponymous news show providing hourly live updates in the morning and early afternoon. Stinchfield soon echoed Trump’s bellicosity, comparing a Jewish political opponent to a Nazi Gestapo member, suggesting that North Korea drop a nuclear bomb on California, and claiming that former President Barack Obama carried out an intentional plan to “inflict harm on America.” Another new hire was conservative commentator Bill Whittle, who had spent the previous year appearing on an “alt-right” web series to promote discredited theories about race and intelligence and to make racist claims, such as suggesting African-Americans are slaves of the Democratic Party, trading their supposed willingness to engage in voter fraud for welfare. NRATV also greatly expanded the role of NRA News’ Chuck Holton, who would go on to claim on NRATV that Black Lives Matter was poised to commit mass rape and murder against whites.
This new stable of personalities has cemented the media output of the self-proclaimed “oldest civil rights organization” as leading source of divisiveness in America.
Hand-in-hand with the hateful commentary on NRATV is a pattern of attacks on basic freedoms and rights in service of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. One of these instances was an outrageous attack on those who use their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly to speak out against Trump.
Narrated by conservative radio host Dana Loesch, an NRATV commentator who was elevated to serve as the NRA’s national spokesperson in February, the one-minute spot depicted a dark version of America that is clearly at odds with reality. Using footage of isolated incidents of property damage and police confrontations, Loesch tarred the largely peaceful resistance movement as a violent force destroying America and delivered a line that was criticized as an incitement to violence against Trump critics: “The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” The message was clear: Stop complaining about Trump in the public square or face the wrath of the nation’s premier firearm group.
The Washington Post reported that the spot had angered gun owners with its extremism, although the video found a fan in conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones, who praised the NRA’s “more hardcore” direction. In response to criticism, Loesch and Stinchfield said the group would never apologize.
The controversy seems to have only emboldened the NRA’s attacks on Trump critics, with follow-up videos employing similarly incendiary language to attack those who use their First Amendment right to protest the president, including one that claimed opponents of Trump will “perish in the political flames of their own fires.”
Tellingly, when deadly violence was actually unleashed on peaceful protesters -- after a man who admired Hitler drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA, injuring 19 people and killing activist Heather Heyer -- NRATV was conspicuously silent.
For years, the NRA has regarded the media as a participant in a conspiracy by elites to attack gun ownership. While that has continued during the Trump administration, NRATV also began to advance the narrative that critical reporting on the president is oppositional to American values and -- bizarrely enough -- incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.
Authoritarian claims about the role of the press since the launch of NRATV include:
positioning reporting on Trump’s admission of sexaul assault as part of “the mainstream media’s assault against freedom and the Constitution”;
claiming it’s “anti-patriotic” and part of a plot to “destroy our republic” to critically report on the Trump administration;
saying it was “anti-American” for media to report on Trump’s inflammatory comments on North Korea; and
NRATV personalities have also been willing to serve as Baghdad Bobs for Trump by relaying patently false accounts of real world events. Among the lowlights:
purporting to offer a “direct quote” of what former FBI Director James Comey said about Trump and obstruction of justice during his testimony before Congress, but instead offering a fabricated quote that absolved Trump of wrongdoing;
advocating for the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by telling an alternate history of a racially charged prosecution Sessions spearheaded in the 1980s; and
tarring the Women’s March as violent by playing footage of a completely different protest where some participants broke windows.
The obvious question is: What has the NRA’s divisiveness on steroids in 2017 achieved for the gun group’s agenda? The answer is thankfully little -- at least thus far.
With Republican control of the White House and Congress, it is expected that the NRA agenda would move forward to some extent; but there is no way it is moving fast enough presently for the NRA to be satisfied. The group’s number one legislative priority, a bill to force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by all other states, has not been made law. It took until December for the NRA to convince Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to hold a House vote on the bill -- it passed, but with less support than a version of the legislation voted on in 2011. The measure has also lost support in the Senate, where the bill would need 60 votes, with several former backers saying they wouldn’t vote for the bill again. Hearings for the NRA’s second biggest priority, a bill which would deregulate firearm silencers, were canceled following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in June and the bill was then shelved by Ryan following the October Las Vegas massacre.
Despite the lack of accomplishments in this first year, it’s important to always remember how intertwined much of Congress is with the gun lobby, making the advancement of NRA legislation a constant threat while anti-gun safety members hold a majority.
The speed with which the NRA could advance its agenda also depends on the outcomes of future elections. Thus far, the NRA has been inept in its electoral activities in the era of Trump. In November, statewide elections in Virginia, the NRA-endorsed candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general all lost. The NRA was also unsuccessful in its attempt to make reported child predator Roy Moore the junior U.S. Senator for Alabama.
While the NRA failed to secure several victories it surely thought it would achieve in its first year serving as a de facto media arm for the Trump White House, its luck could change in a moment’s notice. 2018’s nationwide elections are on the horizon -- and the NRA’s divisive messaging operations require continued vigilance.
Just hours after news broke of a mass shooting in a Sutherland Springs, TX, church that left 26 people dead and at least 20 more wounded, Chuck Holton, a correspondent for NRATV -- the National Rifle Association’s media arm -- tweeted that “If your church doesn’t have a security team, get one” with a link to LionHeart International Services Group:
If your church doesn’t have a security team, get one. https://t.co/BSebseuz3P. Praying for my brothers in TX.
— Chuck Holton (@rangerholton) November 5, 2017
Holton is director of communications at the security services firm, which he did not disclose in the tweet. While his biography on the firm’s website refers to Holton as a “war correspondent,” it does not describe his position with NRATV nor does his NRATV biography describe his position with LionHeart.
It is legal to carry concealed guns in churches in Texas, unless the property owner gives written or oral notice prohibiting the practice.
Update: During a November 6 episode of Stinchfield, NRATV’s hourly 10-minute update show, host Grant Stinchfield interviewed LionHeart International Services Group president and founder Tim Miller, who said it is time “for our churches to team up and train up” and that smaller churches need to “start prioritizing physically protecting their congregations and that means they've got to get serious about developing a plan and training the right people.” During the segment, Miller plugged his own company’s trainings for churches, saying, “Our guys are used to training police officers and federal agents.” Neither Miller nor Stinchfield disclosed Holton’s position with LionHeart:
TIM MILLER: It really is time, though, Grant -- we’ve been talking about this -- for our churches to team up and train up. These smaller churches are the majority of churches in our country. And it’s time for them to start prioritizing physically protecting their congregations and that means that they’ve got to get serious about developing a plan and training the right people. Because if you think of one well-trained person yesterday, that may have made all the difference.
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): You know, Tim, I had worked very closely with two of the lawmakers that pushed through this new law in Texas that allows churches to organize their own volunteer private security without having to go through the requirements of registering as a security force. It was imperative that this got pushed through -- it did in the last legislative session -- and it allows now churches to basically have this volunteer security force without the fear of not following licensing properly or lawsuits or any of those things. And it gives them protection to take matters back into their own hands. It’s a good law.
TIM MILLER: It’s a great law. And now what has to happen now that folks can get the weapons that they need and can not have to worry about those requirements -- but they still must have to have great training. And that’s what we try to do when we go into churches. A team is only as good as its ability to practice the skills that they have, and so when we go in, our guys are used to training police officers and federal agents. But now we really have come to realize that this is an urgent need in our country, to come in and take these great-hearted people who have taken steps to arm themselves, but they still need to train and still need to understand how to employ that weapon.
An NRA op-ed argues the gun group is being unfairly attacked as racist. But its actions speak for themselves.
In the October edition of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) magazine America’s 1st Freedom, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre takes on what he calls the “false notion” from the “gun-ban media” that “somehow the NRA is racist.”
Outlets covering the NRA and race should consider these examples -- starting with LaPierre himself -- in evaluating his claims:
After Hurricane Sandy struck New York City and other parts of the East Coast in 2013, LaPierre was criticized for writing an op-ed in which he falsely claimed that “looters ran wild in south Brooklyn” and fearmongered about “Latin American drug gangs.” Conservative commentator Joe Scarborough described the claims as “so laced with racial overtones.” Progressive commentator Touré pointed out that LaPierre “spoke of supposedly rampant crime and murder in some place he called South Brooklyn. … Put aside that no reporting bears that out. I live in Brooklyn, I have for a long time, and there is no place referred to as South Brooklyn, but I think it’s safe to say that when he says that, much of the country envisions a place clogged with black people.”
During the NRA’s 2015 annual meeting, LaPierre referenced the end of the Obama administration and told the crowd, “Eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.” Reacting to the comment, Pulitzer-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote, “LaPierre traded his dog whistle for an air horn.”
During a 2014 speech, LaPierre adopted conservative media’s racially charged claims about the (nonexistent) “knockout game” phenomenon -- in which black youths supposedly assault unsuspecting, mostly white, victims on the street for fun -- to hype gun ownership.
Despite its purported hyperfocus on terrorism, the NRA’s news show was silent after a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of anti-racist demonstrators, killing activist Heather Heyer and wounding 19 others, during a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, VA, in August.
NRATV, one of the NRA’s media outlets, recently hired conservative commentator Bill Whittle, who has a long track record of making race-baiting comments. Whittle has promoted discredited theories that posit black people are less innately intelligent than members of other races and claimed that African-Americans commit voter fraud on behalf of Democrats as a condition of ongoing slavery. Whittle also once said that people in inner cities are “unemployable -- unemployed and unemployable -- they’ve been on assistance their entire lives, they’ve never had to work before,” and that these people should get jobs because a job “beats the laziness” out of people and “disciplines” them into “civility.”
Another recent NRATV hire, Grant Stinchfield, who anchors the NRA’s “news” show, once wrote on social media concerning gun violence: “Blame minorities killing each other not law abiding conservatives.”
Following Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, Chuck Holton, an NRATV correspondent who is a daily guest on the gun group’s programming, wrote on Twitter that the “party’s over” and it's time to scrub “Obama’s mocacchino stain off of America!” using a term for a chocolate coffee drink.
In 2016, Holton claimed on an NRA program that white privilege is “just simply the culture that we have created, that our fathers and grandfathers have worked hard to create,” before saying that it would be nice if blacks joined whites in “respecting authority and taking responsibility for your own actions.”
In July, Holton warned on NRATV about the prospect of Black Lives Matter members committing mass murder and rape against whites in the United States.
Long-serving NRA board member Ted Nugent devoted an entire 2015 column at conspiracy website WorldNetDaily to praising the word “nigger,” including its use as a racial slur.
In 2016, Nugent posted a racist meme on Facebook about a fake moving company called “2 niggers and a stolen truck.”
Nugent attempted to smear Philando Castile on social media by promoting a false report that Castile was a suspect in an armed robbery implying Castile did not have “enuf brainmatter (sic)" to avoid being shot.
Nugent responded to a critic on Facebook with a Spanish name by calling the man “beanochimp.”
Amid controversy over Nugent’s labeling of murdered black teenager Trayvon Martin as a "dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe,” Nugent made racist claims in several media interviews, including saying people should profile African-Americans in the same way members of a community might profile a breed of dog that was biting children, that African-Americans could solve “the black problem" if they were more honest and law-abiding, and that the African-American community has a "mindless tendency to violence" and an inability to "read or speak clearly."
Nugent infamously called Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in 2014.
The NRA did not publicly condemn or dispute any of Nugent’s comments, and he was re-elected for another term on its board in 2016.
NRA News, the prior name for NRATV, attempted to rewrite the history surrounding a series of incidents after Hurricane Katrina in which white residents in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans shot at least 11 black people in racially motivated attacks.
In August 2016, the NRA told its supporters to read a “laugh-out-loud funny” newsletter that was published by the late Jeff Cooper, a former NRA board member. Called “Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries,” the newsletter frequently defended slavery, often featured racial slurs, and compared black South Africans to orangutans.
A leaked 2006 NRA graphic novel was filled with racial overtones including via images of “illegal alien” gang members included to promote gun ownership.
In 1996, an NRA researcher attempted to blame race rather than gun availability for high rates of gun violence in the United States, leading then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to respond, "The NRA has consistently refused to admit the obvious: The number of guns on our streets increase the number of murders of police, children and others. Now they are going to a new extreme. To say it's not guns, but the genetics of race, is a tawdry and evil form of race-baiting."
NRATV hosts repeatedly used hurricanes Harvey and Irma to push for both more gun ownership and pro-gun laws, while fearmongering that this type of catastrophe can happen anywhere and people should be prepared with guns to fight looters as law enforcement can’t be everywhere.
The National Rifle Association’s broadcast platform, NRATV, steadily covered the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston during Stinchfield, the daily show that runs for 10 minutes at the top of the hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Host Grant Stinchfield regularly used these segments to plug “unfettered access to firearms” in order to protect from criminal elements that he claimed take advantage of natural disasters. For instance, in one segment on August 30, Stinchfield talked to correspondent Chuck Holton about “a few reports of looting” in Texas in the aftermath of Harvey, saying, “The police clearly can’t be everywhere.” Stinchfield went on to claim that he had heard that some evacuees in Houston took their firearms with them during evacuation and that they were “grateful we live in a state like Texas that allows us to have personal protection.” Stinchfield also said he hoped “states like New York and California would look at Texas as a model” before fearmongering that “the identical situation could happen” there.
The next day, Stinchfield reiterated that “evildoers do take to the streets” after natural disasters but that “Texans have unfettered access to firearms” which “puts the victims of this disaster at ease,” during the August 31 edition of Stinchfield. He went on to shamelessly fearmonger that “another hurricane, a massive storm, maybe event an earthquake … could take out your city next month, next week or maybe even tomorrow” and asked his audience, “Do you have access to protection?” Stinchfield also claimed, “The thugs and thieves know that your vulnerability can be exploited. Thugs know Texas, they also know California and the other states trying to disarm the public,” and again claimed that Texas’ gun ownership laws served as a deterrent for criminals after the hurricane.
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Criminals will always exploit weakness. With Houston under water and emergency responders working around the clock, South Texas faces difficult times ahead -- that may be an understatement. Many of the people who live in the region are well aware police can't be everywhere, especially not when they are stretched as thin as they are now. But this is Texas. Unlike so many states, Texans have an unfettered access to firearms. That puts the victims of this disaster at ease. In fact, it empowers them as more and more reports of looting and stealing are starting to emerge.
STINCHFIELD: Well those two are prepared. Texans know it is our responsibility to protect ourselves. Now, I have covered natural disasters like this for 25 years. Always, when the storm passes, the evildoers do take to the streets. It’s already starting to happen on a limited basis in South Texas. I am hopeful, but not convinced, it won’t become more widespread. You need to know what we are seeing in Texas could happen in New York or California or Connecticut. Another hurricane, a massive storm, maybe even an earthquake. It could take out your city next month, next week, maybe even tomorrow. When emergency personnel are pulled in every direction, do you have access to protection? The police, as we said, can’t be everywhere. They never can. But certainly not in time like this.
STINCHFIELD: The thugs and thieves know your vulnerability can be exploited. Thugs know Texas; they also know California and the other states trying to disarm the public. Texas has a rich history of gun ownership. In Houston, that history is most certainly serving as a deterrent.
During the September 5 edition of his show, Stinchfield said the rest of the country should “look at Texas and take these cues” of gun ownership, saying, “I promise you, in California, if you had widespread destruction like we’ve seen in the Houston area, the criminals would go hog wild in that state.”
A little over a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Category 4 Hurricane Irma was set to hit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, before making its way to Florida and the Keys. In preparation for the storm, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands issued an order that allowed the National Guard to “restore public order and to guarantee the safety of life and property” of people and allowed the adjutant general to seize “arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material, and any other property that may be required … for the performance of this emergency mission.”
NRATV quickly and predictably used this state of emergency order to push for firearms ownership.
Stinchfield slammed the order during the September 6 edition of his show, claiming that “the last thing they need to worry about is how to protect themselves” before going on to say, “The people of the Virgin Islands need to stand up and say enough is enough. … We will vote you out of office if you even come near our firearms.” NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton agreed with Stinchfield, saying everyone in Texas was carrying weapons after Harvey and instead of violence, “we saw politeness everywhere.” During the 1 p.m. edition of Stinchfield the same day, the NRATV host called this order “an overreach the likes of which I have not seen in a very, very long time.”
In the aftermath of Irma’s second landfall in Florida on September 10, Stinchfield praised a 2015 NRA-backed law that allows Florida gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit for 48 hours during a state of emergency.
Stinchfield claimed that “anything we can do to help push through pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment legislation” is a good idea. Holton used the opportunity to claim the pending National Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation, which would require each state to recognize concealed carry licenses from every other state despite varying qualifications, “would be really good right now, wouldn’t it?”
A day after Irma made landfall in Florida, NRATV picked isolated events of looting in Florida in an effort to show that more guns had led to less crime in Texas.
NRATV repeatedly showed the same video of a group of looters in Fort Lauderdale to fearmonger about supposed widespread looting in the state. During the 9 a.m. update on September 11, Stinchfield claimed “We saw limited amounts of looting in Texas after Harvey. One of the reasons was because of Texans’ rich history with gun ownership”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Any time a situation like this happens, chaos then ensues. We saw limited amounts of looting in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. One of the reasons is because of Texans’ rich history of gun ownership. In Florida, though, the situation is different, and it’s starting early. We are already getting reports of looting in Florida. This is in Fort Lauderdale, where people are breaking into stores. And you talk about stealing things for survival -- that is not survival. That is a store where they are stealing T-shirts and clothing. That is not about stealing water and food. The people running into that store, it might as well be Christmas for them as so many people suffer in that state. There are now upwards of 6 million people out of power, at the same time people take to the streets to loot. The big concern for many folks is what will happen to their homes? Will their homes be broken into?
During the 11 a.m. update the same day, Holton admitted that there were probably more reports of looting in Florida than in Texas “because the geographical area that this storm affected was so much greater” in the former. But he still went on to claim that guns were the reason Houston saw little looting -- even though people in Florida are allowed to carry concealed weapons -- saying, “Something about … having people just wearing it right there on their hip that tended to make everybody just a little bit more polite.”
Despite NRATV’s best efforts to claim that gun ownership was responsible for limited looting in Houston, Florida and Texas have statistically nearly the same percentage of gun ownership.
Praising vigilantes and pushing false stories of widespread looting after natural disasters are popular NRA and right-wing media talking points, and it is a myth that widespread looting or crime sprees occur in the aftermath of natural disasters. For instance, Scott Gabriel Knowles of Drexel University, a historian and author of the book The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America, has noted that "50 years of social science research indicates that widespread looting is really pretty much a myth. … There's pretty good evidence, looking at Hurricane Sandy for example, that crime can actually go down in the midst of a disaster."
NRA’s live news show used Barcelona terror attacks to suggest “political correctness” could cause an attack in the U.S., but has had nothing to say about last week’s Charlottesville attack
The National Rifle Association’s live news show Stinchfield issued a “terror alert” following terrorist van attacks in Spain, in which ISIS supporters drove vans into crowds at two locations, killing 14 and injuring more than 100 people. But the show has yet to mention the events of August 12 in Charlottesville, VA, where a neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing activist Heather Heyer and wounding 19 others.
Since the terror in Charlottesville, Stinchfield -- which consists of five daily updates at the top of the hour on weekdays starting at 9 a.m. EST -- has run 21 segments totalling approximately 210 minutes of airtime without mentioning the attack in Virginia.
During its 9 a.m. update on August 18, Stinchfield used the tragedy in Spain to push right-wing talking points. During the broadcast, a “terror alert” appeared on the screen, which the NRA show has displayed after other attacks.
Recounting the details of the attack, host Grant Stinchfield said to NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton, “All of this, though, reminds me, Chuck, of the lessons we can learn here in America, which is open borders are very dangerous, the terrorists will certainly exploit it. We have that situation going on in Europe with the open borders. And the other is political correctness.”
He continued, “In Europe, they are so afraid to offend anyone when it comes to keeping people safe. And so you combine those two things together, and this is what’s going to happen in places like Europe, and I’m afraid, Chuck, in America as well.”
During the segment, Holton criticized Spain’s gun laws (falsely claiming that “people are not allowed to have guns here”) and Stinchfield called on “patriotic Muslims” to “infiltrate” terror cells in the United States and in Europe.
Stinchfield routinely uses terror attacks in Europe to push right-wing talking points and promote gun ownership. Following the bombing at Manchester Arena in May, Holton claimed that the U.K. “has had this coming for a long time” in part because of the country’s gun laws, and also blamed the attack on “gender-bending,” “multiculturalism,” and open borders for refugees. Following the March vehicle and knife attack at London Bridge, Stinchfield said, “This attack should serve as a reminder of how important our gun rights are here in America.”
Beyond the double standard about what types of terror warrant mention on Stinchfield, the lack of coverage of Charlottesville stands out more within the context of the NRA being widely criticized earlier this year for releasing an ad that critics said encouraged violence against left-wing protesters.
Both of these tragedies call for widespread media coverage, but Stinchfield is making a very conspicuous choice to only commentate on one.
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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.
The National Rifle Association’s news outlet, NRATV, attempted to smear the Women’s March in Washington as “certainly not peaceful” by conflating it with an entirely different event from another day.
While discussing the upcoming July 14 Women’s March on the NRA, guest host and NRATV commentator Bill Whittle said these “so-called peaceful left-wing marches” are “not exactly as they’re advertised” said and that he was hosting NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton to talk about “a story about a woman's march.”
Holton then discussed people who damaged property in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day as the NRATV feed played footage of windows being broken on January 20. According to CBS News, 217 protesters were arrested and six police officers received minor injuries.
But the Women’s March, an entirely different event that took place on January 21, made headlines because it was peaceful and there were “exactly zero arrests” that day.
From the July 7 edition of the NRATV’s hourly updates:
BILL WHITTLE (GUEST HOST): Chuck, you’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 commentator also blames multi-culturalism and “gender-bending” for attack
Following an attack in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and 59 injured, a commentator for the National Rifle Association’s news outlet nonsensically claimed England “has had this coming for a long time” in part because of the country’s gun laws.
During the May 23 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, commentator Chuck Holton claimed England “has had this coming,” due to the country’s firearms regulations, open borders for refugees,“multiculturalism” and “gender-bending.” (The attacker was reportedly U.K. born.) Host Grant Stinchfield echoed Holton’s claims at the end of the segment, stating that European countries have “disarmed their citizens, so … terrorists operate with impunity”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): You bring up this whole point of putting the English flag as a silhouette over your profile on your Facebook page. I’m all for supporting them -- they need our thoughts and prayers right now -- but listen, if the only time they do something like that is when we have a heinous attack, and then we’ll go for a week and they’ll forget all about it. And they take down their little flag and they put their pictures up on the beach and they’re having fun doing whatever, going to the movies, and they forget that there are people that want to kill us. And so I’m a little tired of the hypocrisy from the left and it's almost always the liberal that goes and puts this up on the day of an attack, and then it quickly comes down, and then it just eradicates from their mind like it never happened.
CHUCK HOLTON: Because they think that that actually counts as doing something. It doesn't. And you know in reality, England has had this coming for a long time in that they have -- look, they have opened their borders to so many refugees, they have done away with the personal protections, of their own people being able to protect their families with firearms. And so what we’re seeing is, you know what? Terrorists don’t need firearms to perpetrate their heinous crimes. They are weaponizing the European culture. That’s what they’re doing. They are taking advantage of this multiculturalism and the, you know, gender-bending -- we could go on and on about this. The European male is disappearing in Europe -- the actual men who will stand up and fight for their country. You could also talk about the fact that the Europeans need these people to come in to help support their massive social welfare program. Do you know that, I was reading the other day, nine European -- major European leaders now are absolutely childless, and that reflects the broader culture in Europe, that places like Germany, 30 percent of German women have no children and will never have children. In England it’s something like 20 percent, but that’s rising. And so when you’re not making babies, you need people to come in and work and pay taxes to support your massive social welfare programs. So this is, in some ways, this wave of violence that we’re seeing across Europe is a symptom of the broader problem of multiculturalism and socialism.
STINCHFIELD: And we are seriously considering sending Chuck Holton over to England to get the real scoop for you, because I can tell you right now, you’re not going to get the real scoop on the mainstream media channels. They’re not going to talk about the immigration problems that Europe experiences. They’re not going to talk about the problem that Europe, all countries, have basically disarmed their communities, disarmed their citizens, so what happens that terrorists operate with impunity.
Stinchfield made the same ridiculous claim after four people were killed in the March 22 London attack, suggesting that Europeans are “unprepared for an attack” because “the government has all but disarmed” its citizens. While the U.K. did enact highly restrictive measures on gun ownership after a school shooting in 1996, the European nation also has drastically lower rates of gun deaths, gun homicides, and homicides by all methods compare to America does.
Firearms are used in more than two-thirds of homicides in the United States. High gun availability has been linked to increased gun homicide rates, with one review of academic research finding that “case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the U.S., where there are more guns, both men and women are at a higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” (The same trend is seen in comparisons between high-income countries.)
Academic research has also found that guns are used in the U.S. far more often to commit crimes than to stop crimes. A 2000 study by Harvard Injury Research Control Center found that as a ratio, "guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense. Most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society."
In fact, the odds of needing a gun to protect yourself are so low that it’s difficult to accurately measure the total number of defensive gun uses each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).
In contrast to a lack of evidence that civilians can effectively use guns to stop mass shootings -- a frequent claim of the NRA -- terror attacks involving firearms in the United States, which often involve AR-15-style assault weapons, have been incredibly deadly over the years. A December 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, CA, involved a gunman shooting and killing 14 and wounding 22 with an assault rifle at an office holiday party, and the perpetrator of a June 2016 terror attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, shot and killed 49 and wounded at least 53, also with an assault rifle.
Just two days after President Trump’s inauguration, Chuck Holton, co-host of NRATV’s Frontlines, wrote on Twitter that the “party’s over” and it's time to scrub “Obama’s mocacchino stain off of America!”
“Mocacchino” is a term for a chocolate coffee drink -- and, in this case, an apparent reference to the former president’s race.
Launched by the National Rifle Association in late October 2016 with the mission of providing “the most comprehensive video coverage of Second Amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world,” NRATV has largely served as a pro-Trump propaganda outlet.
As part of NRATV’s programming schedule, Holton co-hosts the military-themed show Frontlines alongside Fox News contributor Oliver North.
Holton has a history of making racially insensitive and sexist commentary. In a 2015 column for the NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom, Holton attacked a State Department spokeswoman as "spokesperson barbie (sic)," and described her as one of various "clueless, poorly accessorized mouthpieces." During an August 2016 appearance on the NRA radio program Cam & Company, Holton referred to “white privilege” as “simply the culture that we have created, that our fathers and grandfathers have work hard to create” while lobbing numerous attacks against the black community.
The January 22 tweet was also not Holton’s first inflammatory attack on Obama. On November 16, the NRATV co-host responded to a picture on Twitter of Obama and Trump shaking hands by calling the then-president a “pussy.”
Chuck Holton, the co-host of a National Rifle Association web series, reacted to a picture of President-elect Trump and President Obama shaking hands by writing, “Photo finally surfaces of Trump grabbing a pussy.”
Holton co-hosts the NRA TV series Frontlines alongside Iran-Contra figure and NRA board member Oliver North. According to the NRA, “their coverage ranges from how our military and law enforcement guard against radiological sabotage, counterfeiting and terrorism, to the threat of an unstable economy and cyber warfare.” (In promoting a Frontlines episode, Holton once raised the prospect of people on food stamps “eating each other in the streets” following an EMP attack by North Korea.)
Holton’s attack on Obama came in response to a widely shared tweet authored by comedian and writer Travon Free where he wrote, “No better summation of being black in America. At the highest level having to be gracious to white people who do nothing but disrespect you.” Free’s tweet included an image of Trump and Obama shaking hands, leading Holton to respond, “Photo finally surfaces of Trump grabbing a pussy":
Holton’s comment is a reference to a video that showed President-elect Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. In the tape, which was released in October, Trump can be heard saying,“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Holton previously made racially charged attacks on the black community while appearing in August on the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company. During the August 19 broadcast, Holton talked about gangs, absent fathers, and welfare, before saying, “And you hear college students complain about white privilege. You know my definition of white privilege? It’s just simply the culture that we have created, that our fathers and grandfathers have worked hard to create.” Holton went on describe white privilege as “a culture of individual responsibility, where you take responsibility for your own actions, a culture that respects authority.” He also positively cited a video about “white privilege” released by “alt right” blogger Stefan Molyneux. The video, which was widely praised in white nationalist circles, pushed the myth of “Irish slavery,” a common white nationalist talking point.