Dana Loesch | Media Matters for America

Dana Loesch

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  • As turmoil within the NRA mounts, NRATV pretends nothing is wrong

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A public feud between the National Rifle Association and its longtime ad firm Ackerman McQueen is escalating, creating a bizarre dynamic in which the ad firm continues its role producing the NRA’s media outlet even as it wages a scorched-earth campaign against the group’s leadership. Supporters of the Ackerman faction are now leaking embarrassing information about NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre that could threaten his job as well as the NRA’s tax-exempt nonprofit status. Yet NRATV continues to put forward a facade of normalcy.

    The first public sign of trouble between the NRA and Ackerman -- which have worked together for nearly four decades -- was revealed in a March 11 article in The New York Times. Noting that NRATV “has adopted an increasingly apocalyptic, hard-right tone, warning of race wars, describing Barack Obama as a ‘fresh-faced flower-child president,’ calling for a march on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and comparing journalists to rodents,” the Times quoted NRA board members, including past NRA President Marion Hammer, expressing concern about NRATV’s direction. The Times reported that LaPierre was “livid and embarrassed” after NRA national spokesperson and Ackerman employee Dana Loesch aired an episode of her NRATV show -- first reported on by Media Matters -- that depicted Thomas the Tank Engine in a Ku Klux Klan hood in an attempt to criticize the children’s television show Thomas and Friends for adding diversity to its cast of characters.

    Then in April, the NRA sued Ackerman in Virginia state court, alleging that the ad firm has not fulfilled its contractual obligations to the NRA. The NRA’s complaint mentioned that it paid Ackerman $42.6 million in 2017 alone and alleged that Ackerman refused to turn over metrics that could be used to evaluate NRATV’s effectiveness and that it would not provide full details about a contract with then-NRA President Oliver North to produce an NRATV series. (The NRA would later update its legal complaint to accuse North of duplicitously attempting to draw a salary from both the NRA and Ackerman.)

    The conflict between the NRA and its own advertising firm came to a head during the 2019 NRA annual meeting, when a series of events pitted LaPierre and Brewer Attorneys & Counselors -- an outside legal contractor that allegedly costs the NRA nearly $100,000 per day -- against North and Ackerman McQueen. (Another strange aspect to the infighting: William Brewer, the CEO of Brewer Attorneys, is the brother-in-law of Ackerman McQueen CEO Revan McQueen.) As the meetings were unfolding, North sent the NRA board a letter alleging LaPierre participated in various financial misdeeds. LaPierre responded by accusing North of attempting to extort him and said he would not resign. In the end, LaPierre was reelected by the board of the directors, while North was ousted from the presidency after acknowledging he did not have the support of the board.

    That outcome appears to have done little to stem the infighting. In one recent major development, on May 10, the letter that North sent to the board leaked and its embarrassing claims about LaPierre’s spending became public. In recent years, LaPierre often used Ackerman to pay for things that the NRA would later reimburse. Among the expenses: more than $274,000 in clothing purchases from a single Beverly Hills, CA, clothing boutique, including as much as $39,000 spent in a single day, and an additional $267,000-plus for travel and rent, including $18,300 for a car and driver during a trip in Europe and $13,800 to rent an apartment for a summer intern. The letter also highlighted legal fees charged by Brewer that North said were exorbitant.

    NRATV has continued its regular broadcasts during this infighting, with no mention of any of these new developments. Ackerman has produced the NRA’s media operation since 2004, when the outlet was originally called NRA News. In 2016, NRA News changed its name to NRATV and massively expanded to become a 24/7 online broadcast. NRATV has three shows that broadcast live on weekdays; the rest of the airtime is filled with rebroadcasts, prerecorded series, and other videos from the massive NRATV archive.

    NRATV’s news-of-the-day show Stinchfield has continued its focus on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, which the NRA terms the ”disarmament primary.” A snapshot of “disarmament primary” segments broadcast on May 15 and 16 shows the type of unhinged and apocalyptic claims that host Grant Stinchfield routinely makes about Democratic candidates:

    • On former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX): “The cornerstone of his [2018 Senate] campaign was to ban AR-15s, a dopey move, even if just by political standards. There are some 22 million gun owners in Texas, many of whom own AR-15s. So gaffe after gaffe put the privileged white kid from boarder school who goes by Beto in a dunce cap in the back of the disarmament primary room.” (Note: Texas has an estimated population of 28.7 million people, making Stinchfield’s claim about the number of gun owners in that state incredibly unlikely.) [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/15/19]
    • On Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) comment that she would use executive actions to ban the imports of assault weapons: “She’s going to undermine the Second Amendment using executive orders. … The arrogance there, to think that she has a right to do that. We live in a representative government world here in the United States where we send people to Congress to have a say in the laws that are passed. She wants to make an end run around Congress, that’s what Kamala Harris is willing to do, use executive action in a tyrannical fashion to take away your rights.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/15/19]
    • On New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Another socialist gun grabber says he’s ready to be president. Let’s welcome New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to the disarmament primary. … He’ll take your money, he’ll take your guns and your home because that’s how his socialist mind works. But de Bozo is oh so late to this party.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/16/19]
    • On former Vice President Joe Biden: “He declared that everyone is not entitled to a gun and … we should all ‘put a damn trigger lock on it, put it in a case, you have an obligation,’ he says. My only obligation, Sloppy Joe, is to keep my family safe. Don’t tell me how to store my firearm when you know nothing about them.” [NRATV, Stinchfield, 5/16/19]

    Stinchfield has also continued its regular attacks on the press. On May 16, Stinchfield ran three different segments on a local news story about preventing home burglaries. The reporter who wrote the story interviewed convicted burglars about what makes them more or less likely to target a home. According to the report, “That National Rifle Association (NRA) sticker on the door that once deterred burglars is now often viewed as a clue that valuable guns are in the home for the taking.” Stinchfield was apoplectic, apparently not grasping that the reporter wasn’t endorsing the interviewees’ views but was simply sharing what he was told. According to Stinchfield:

    The bottom line is this: The reporter’s apparent bias toward guns and the NRA got in the way of telling a meaningful story with some good tips. His credibility is shot now, to me, and sadly, most people will miss that little shot across the bow that he fires at the NRA in this piece. But this is what we’re up against: a mainstream media waging an information war against us. “How dare you be an NRA member,” they say. “How dare you show it proudly. If you do, you’ll be burglarized.” Give me a break.

    The theory that an NRA sticker could increase the odds of a burglary has come up in other recent local news investigations, and it has even been discussed in pro-gun media without allegations of a mainstream media conspiracy.

    NRATV’s two other live shows, Relentless, hosted by Dana Loesch, and Cam & Co., hosted by Cam Edwards, were unremarkable on May 15 and 16 , featuring criticism of Democratic presidential candidates and discussion of gun issues. In one segment characteristic of Loesch’s tendency to sometimes veer into bizarre commentary, Loesch cautioned NRATV viewers to make sure not to leave guns behind in public bathrooms or else “the disarmament left” could “use an accident in an attempt to get rid of your Second Amendment rights.”
     

    Despite his ouster as NRA president, North remains a prominent face at NRATV.com. That appears to be because he still works for Ackerman; his NRATV bio page currently describes him as “Past NRA President, Host.” (North also appears to continue to serve on the NRA board of directors. He was reelected to a three-year term at the annual meeting in voting that occurred before the latest NRA infighting became public.) On NRATV’s “series” page, North is seen alongside his nemesis LaPierre.  

    The show that North hosts, American Heroes, is a major part of the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman. In an updated legal complaint filed against Ackerman, the NRA alleged that the series did not deliver as many episodes as promised and did not generate as much sponsorship revenue for the NRA as expected. The few episodes that North and Ackerman have managed to produce so far are available for view at NRATV.com. Just four episodes have been released since the series’s launch in November 2018.

    The civil litigation between the NRA and Ackerman is in its earliest stages and there appears to be no end in sight for the gun group’s infighting. But for now, NRATV will continue to serve as the NRA’s messaging apparatus -- even as the PR company that produces it continues to cause massive public relations problems for the NRA.

  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch says "psychotropic drugs" may be to blame for school shootings

    On Fox, Loesch echoed a right-wing myth pushed by conspiracy theory sites like Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch blamed the recent school shooting in Highlands Ranch, CO, on “psychotropic drugs” -- a common talking point from right-wing conspiracy theory outlets such as Infowars.  

    On May 7, one student was killed and eight others injured when two shooters opened fire in STEM School Highlands Ranch. Two students, Brendan Bialy and Kendrick Castillo, reportedly tried to tackle the alleged shooters with the help of an unidentified third student. Castillo was shot as he rushed one of the attackers and died at the hospital.

    Shortly after the shooting, Loesch went on Fox News to accuse gun safety activists of politicizing the tragedy because of their tweets condemning gun violence. Loesch returned to Fox on May 9, appearing on Fox & Friends to offer as possible causes for the Highlands Ranch school shooting a lack of “respect for life,” a lack of “boundaries for our youth,” and a lack of “that solid family home.”She went on to suggest “psychotropic drugs” as a possible reason for the uptick in school shootings, claiming one of the gunmen was “abusing illegal drugs”:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): What is the problem? You said there is “a heart problem” in our country. How do we prevent this from happening again?

    DANA LOESCH (NRA SPOKESPERSON): You know, Kendrick is the same age as my oldest son. And I understand Kendrick Castillo is graduating this week and my oldest son is graduating this week. So, you know, as a mother you look every single kid out there -- and you know this, Ainsley, every single kid out there is your own child. And it makes me so angry his life was taken so prematurely from him by someone so evil and so horrendous. And I think that’s -- I wish that is the discussion we could have in this country.

    There is something wrong with our youth, everybody. There is something that is happening in our culture because we have always had firearms, but we have never had this many incidents. We also have more restrictive laws and more regulations. I mean, Colorado has a lot of gun laws. We have a number of things that are taking place. But what we are lacking is a respect for life. What we are lacking are clear boundaries for our youth. We're lacking that solid family home, and I don't know if all of this or if some of this playing into why we keep seeing individuals reacting this way.

    Is it psychotropic drugs? We know a couple of things that one of the individuals apparently, according to reports in law enforcement, had been abusing illegal drugs and was in therapy. If we’re gonna discuss warning signs, how about that? They stole two handguns, they're illegal to carry and possess by people under age 21. And I hope, by the way, that more people check out the NRA School Shield program so we can get more armed security guards in some more of these schools so that we can prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

    Blaming shootings on “psychotropic” and “psychiatric drugs” instead of access to firearms is a favorite talking point of the right-wing conspiracy theory outlet Infowars. The website has attempted to blame mass shootings in Las Vegas, NV, Parkland, FL, and Jacksonville, FL, on the shooters’ reported medications.  

    In reality, people struggling with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators. According to Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, a leading researcher on violence and mental health, “If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, that would be wonderful, but overall violence would go down by only about 4 percent.” As Julia Fast, an expert in bipolar disorder, wrote in Psychology Today:

    It’s not a chicken or the egg problem. There is the mental health concern and then there are drugs as a response, not a cause. The NRA and other gun rights lobby groups are conveniently skipping the most important part of the problem: the shooters are on drugs because there were signs that something was not right in their brains from the beginning.

  • Fox News anchor misleadingly splices together tweets of anti-gun violence activist to accuse her of politicizing Colorado school shooting

    NRA's Dana Loesch went on Fox to dismiss calls for gun safety legislation as a rush "to politicize" a tragedy

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Yesterday, a shooting at a school in Highlands Ranch, CO, left one student dead and eight injured. To discuss the tragedy, Fox anchor Shannon Bream on Fox “news”-side show Fox News @ Night brought on NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who derided people for blaming guns after shootings.

    Loesch also accused actress Alyssa Milano and gun safety activist and founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts of politicizing the tragedy in their tweets condemning the school shooting and criticizing the NRA, asking, “What is wrong with these ladies’ hearts that their first response to a tragedy, before we even know who the victim is, is to rush to politicize it?”

    Fox featured on screen a tweet attributed to Watts that was actually two tweets the network had misleadingly spliced together -- one posted after the shooting and part of another she had posted the day before. Fox has a history of propping up the NRA and the embattled organization’s legislative priorities. The NRA frequently accuses activists of politicizing deadly shootings.

  • “It’s that bad”: a timeline of NRA’s recent inner turmoil

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Turmoil within the National Rifle Association was on full display during its 2019 annual meeting, when President Oliver North was forced out of his position amid reports of infighting and budget deficits and accusations of financial improprieties. The extremist pro-gun organization has been in chaos for months, and the infighting spilled into public view in March following the publication of a report on the exorbitant amount of money the NRA spends on a media operation, NRATV, that aired a particularly odious segment leaving several board members and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “livid and embarrassed.”

  • The New Yorker highlights the NRA’s “desperate” financial situation amid reports of infighting over NRATV

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    A new article in The New Yorker gives an extraordinary glimpse into the NRA’s increasingly dire financial situation and an internal rift over the production of its media outlet, NRATV.

    The article comes on the heels of news that the NRA is suing Oklahoma-based Ackerman McQueen, the group’s ad agency that also produces NRATV, for allegedly ignoring the NRA’s request for “access to records underlying its bills.” NRA President Oliver North also has a contract with Ackerman McQueen to host an NRATV show, and while the NRA says it must disclose and approve its top officials pay, the lawsuit alleges neither North nor Ackerman McQueen will share the details of their contract.   

    The lengthy April 17 article, written by Mike Spies of The Trace and published in partnership with The New Yorker, exposed more than a decade of financial problems at the NRA, reporting that “in recent years, it has run annual deficits of as much as forty million dollars.” The article points out the NRA spends less than 10% of its budget on firearms education, safety, and training, and instead focuses on “messaging,” using Ackerman McQueen to shape its “public identity” by “promoting a life style built around loving guns and hating anyone who might take them away.”

    Several NRA figures, including North and NRA national spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch, also have contracts with the ad agency, making it “difficult to tell” of the NRA and Ackerman McQueen “where one ends and the other begins.” According to the New Yorker piece, Ackerman McQueen is also responsible for turning NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre into a “ferocious critic of the political left” and creating “the Wayne cult of personality” around his appearances at NRA annual meetings and other conservative gatherings.

    Tax documents obtained by Spies reportedly show “a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders” received “hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements.” One senior NRA employee went as far as to “describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed.” Meanwhile, the NRA, “in desperate need of funds, raised its dues for the second time in two years” and cut costs by eliminating “free coffee and water coolers at its headquarters” and freezing employees’ pension plans.

    This reporting on the organization’s desperate financial state and the rift among its employees comes less than six months after layoffs hit the network and a little over a month after former NRA president and current board member Marion Hammer went on record to The New York Times that she and other board members "have questioned the value" of NRATV.

    The NRA’s media platform has been a cesspool of bigotry and extremist talking points for over a decade. Those characteristics were on full display when Loesch shared an image on her NRATV program of the trains from the children’s TV show Thomas & Friends wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods to protest the show’s focus on diversity. The move reportedly left LaPierre “livid and embarrassed,” according to The Times.   

    This post has been updated for clarity.

  • Thanks to anti-abortion media, the latest congressional "tech censorship" hearing was particularly absurd

    Senate hearing about alleged censorship of anti-abortion movie Unplanned was another exercise in right-wing outrage-baiting

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    During an April 10 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing about the so-called “censorship” of conservative content by social media platforms, senators continually (and inaccurately) claimed Twitter's temporary suspension of an account associated with the anti-abortion movie Unplanned was evidence of wider bias. Although allegations of widespread conservative censorship by social media companies are inaccurate, the accusation itself is familiar among anti-abortion extremists, who have long deployed it as a tactic to rally supporters and raise funds.

    Soon after Unplanned’s release in March, a Twitter account associated with the movie was temporarily suspended and reactivated. The Hollywood Reporter explained that the movie’s account “was not suspended on purpose, but rather was linked to another account that had violated Twitter's rules.” Because of this, the Unplanned account was soon reactivated and its followers restored -- but not before right-wing media expressed outrage and alleged that the film had been “shadow banned” (a common and completely false conservative claim). Although Twitter’s FAQ clearly explains that follower and tweet counts “will be fully restored within 24 hours of reactivation,” right-wing and anti-abortion media continued to treat the incident as yet another example of censorship by tech companies.

    This is far from the first time that anti-abortion groups or outlets have alleged censorship to rile up supporters or solicit funds. Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in 2017 that Twitter was censoring her organization’s ads. In reality, the content remained on the platform -- Live Action simply wasn’t allowed to promote the ads as such because they violated several of Twitter’s content policies. In other instances, this tactic has been deployed by anti-abortion groups to lambast Google’s page rankings or allege widespread media bias against right-wing or anti-abortion views.

    Beyond riling up their supporters, this tactic is often deployed by anti-abortion groups to fundraise in the name of fighting back against alleged social media censorship. The anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List has leveraged similar allegations to sway voters and raise funds for specific campaigns. During the 2018 midterm elections, SBA List accused Facebook of removing its ads urging people to “vote pro-life.” Although Facebook actually disallowed the ads because the platform doesn’t “allow ads that depict medical procedures or conditions,” SBA List framed the move as another example of censorship and urged supporters to “RUSH a contribution … to help us fight back and get this ad in front of voters in key swing-states DESPITE the ongoing censorship of pro-life voices by the abortion lobby.”

    This Senate hearing is only the latest example of Republican lawmakers’ willingness to entertain inaccurate talking points claiming censorship of conservative views. In 2017, then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) deployed this tactic to generate attention and garner support after announcing her run for retiring Sen. Bob Corker's (R-TN) seat, which she ultimately won. Blackburn referred to this incident during the April 10 hearing as well -- even receiving an apology from Twitter’s representative.

    Early in the hearing, while questioning witnesses from Facebook and Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) demanded to know why a 2017 tweet from SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser had allegedly been censored. Although the tweet was never actually removed from Twitter (and in fact remains up today), The Washington Post noted that the tweet had originally been rejected from paid promotion for violating that platform’s “health and pharmaceutical products and services policy.” During the hearing, Twitter’s witness affirmed that SBA List was generally “in good standing” for the purposes of advertising on the platform. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also questioned why several of SBA List’s Facebook ads depicting premature babies in a medical setting were removed. Although the ads were ultimately allowed to run on the platform, Lee implied that they were initially flagged due to rampant liberal bias at Facebook -- an allegation the witness denied.

    During the hearing’s second session, Unplanned and SBA List were both given a platform to repeat talking points about the alleged censorship of anti-abortion content online. In his opening testimony, Unplanned co-director Chuck Konzelman claimed that the temporary suspension of the film’s Twitter account was “suspect” and credited right-wing media personalities such as Fox News host Shannon Bream and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch for raising awareness of the incident. SBA List’s Vice President of Government Affairs Marilyn Musgrave testified that her organization had “been fighting censorship of our content for more than two years” alongside other anti-abortion organizations that she claimed had experienced similar difficulties.

    When conservatives have previously attempted to hold hearings investigating the so-called bias of tech platforms, the results have featured laughable conspiracy theories about liberals censoring conservative content. As this latest hearing demonstrated, anti-abortion and right-wing media will continue to falsely cry censorship to signal-boost their deceptive content, rile up supporters, and raise funds. Given this track record, perhaps the only thing more predictable than right-wing and anti-abortion media’s invocation of censorship to market Unplanned was Senate Republicans’ willingness to give a platform to such a transparent ploy in the first place.

  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch attacks attempt to strengthen Violence Against Women Act

    Loesch falsely claims there's "no such thing as the boyfriend loophole" in current law

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch used her NRATV show to attack legislation to disarm domestic abusers, falsely claiming there are no loopholes in the current law and saying that we “have to be careful” in determining “what counts as threatening.”

    On April 4, the House of Representatives “overwhelmingly” voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that was originally passed in 1994 and has been reapproved about every five years since. This latest update included a provision prohibiting dating partners who have been convicted of misdemeanor abuse and individuals convicted of stalking from purchasing a firearm -- closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”

    The NRA came out firmly against the added provision by claiming it takes away due process and reportedly warning Republican members of Congress “that their vote on the legislation will be scored and included in their NRA rating.” The NRA’s position opposing the provision isn't a new one -- the organization fought a previous attempt in the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013 to close the loophole and add stalking convictions to the list of gun ownership prohibitors.

    The same day that the act’s latest reauthorization passed in the House, Loesch insisted on her NRATV show that “we have to be careful about … lowering the litmus test”  to “determine what counts as threatening, what counts as violence,” and suggested that an unwelcome text message could result in the loss of the ability to purchase a firearm. While the new provision expands the categories of people who are prohibited from buying a firearm, the "litmus test" for being prohibited isn't lowered as Loesch claimed and remains a misdemeanor conviction. She went on to repeatedly claim there is “no such thing as a boyfriend loophole,” and flatly told viewers that dating partners are included in the current “intimate partner” definition. In reality, “intimate partners” convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes are prohibited from owning firearms under the current law, but the term “intimate partners” does not include dating partners who have not lived together or had a child together. This limitation is commonly known as the boyfriend loophole.

    The NRA spokesperson also said politicians who supported this version of the Violence Against Women Act “should be ashamed of themselves.” From the April 4 edition of NRATV’s Relentless:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): The provision that allows authorities to remove property and firearms from individuals, that can actually be expanded to include those individuals who maybe perhaps texted something to you that maybe you didn’t like or that you thought were threatening. Which would include half of the people that are in my [Twitter] mentions, including many verified journalists. So we have to be careful about when we talk about expanding certain laws and lowering the litmus test for -- to determine what counts as threatening, what counts as violence, so on and so forth.

    They were also claiming that they were closing this “boyfriend loophole,” which is not an actual thing. There’s no such thing as a boyfriend loophole. The boyfriend loophole is made completely of falsehoods simply by the language of the Lautenberg Amendment, which was an amendment to the Gun Control Act passed in 1968 that specifically states “intimate partners.” What would you call a boyfriend? An intimate partner. So why are people saying that there is a boyfriend loophole? There is no loophole at all, whatsoever. A criminal act isn’t a loophole. There isn’t one in the Violence Against Women -- there isn’t one with regards to all of the legal processes and the judicial processes through which someone can be adjudicated ineligible by everything that is already included in 18 U.S.C., subsection 922(g). All of this is already there. So these individuals that have been pushing these things are doing so based on a falsehood, and they are doing it on the backs of women who have survived domestic violence situations, which I find incredibly troubling.

    This was about diminishing due process, that’s what this is about. And if lawmakers want to try stunts like this, they can do it not on the backs of women who have endured and survived domestic violence, they can do it separately on their own. But what this shows you is that they know things like undermining the rule of law and undermining due process and removing it entirely, that this is not widely supported by Americans, that this is a very unpopular tactic. Which is why they had to hitch it to the Violence Against Women Act and this reauthorization. They should be ashamed of themselves for doing so.

  • The worst of NRATV, the NRA's extremist and bigoted media operation

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & MILES LE

    NRATV is the media operation for the National Rifle Association, and it regularly spews bigotry, extremist pro-gun talking points, and fact-free defenses of President Donald Trump. While the outlet does sometimes cover gun policy, NRATV is largely a platform where conspiracy theories, white nationalism, and extremism flourish during broadcasts covering a wide variety of topics.        

    After NRATV host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch shared on her program an image of children’s TV show characters wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods, several members of the organization’s board “questioned the value” of NRATV, highlighting a fracture within the NRA over the purpose of its media operation.

    Below are some of the worst examples of inflammatory rhetoric broadcast on NRATV:

  • The NRA and its media outlet have long been a breeding ground for odious conspiracy theories

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    A National Rifle Association official had a conspiratorial correspondence with an infamous Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist after the 2018 Parkland, FL, school shooting, according to a March 27 HuffPost exclusive. The story is indicative of a culture at the NRA that allows the promotion of conspiracy theories about mass shootings, gun policy, and other topics by some of its leaders.

  • NRA and conservative media run with inaccurate report to try to make pro-gun point about the New Zealand mosque shootings

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch and several members of conservative media used an early news report -- that now appears to be erroneous -- to repeat a favorite NRA talking point, claiming that the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand were stopped by a “good guy” with a gun. While the NRA and Loesch have previously said that people shouldn’t debate gun policy in the immediate aftermath of high-profile shooting incidents, they set that rule aside in this instance to advance their pro-gun agenda.

    A mass shooting targeting two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left 49 dead on March 15. The gunman was reportedly inspired by white nationalism; before the shooting, he posted links to a manifesto that praised other mass shooters and listed white supremacists as his heroes. The gunman was charged with murder over the mosque attacks, which were livestreamed on his Facebook account.

    An initial article reported that during the attack on the second mosque, “a well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fire two shots at them as they sped off.” It was later reported that a man charged the gunman inside the mosque, took his firearm, and chased him outside while carrying his weapon, but did not fire any shots of his own. 

    Though the initial report does not seem to have been corroborated elsewhere, right-wing outlets and media figures still rushed to claim a “good guy” stopped the shooting. Loesch tweeted that a “Good guy with a gun” is making "terrorists afraid of ever targeting innocents again.”

    The “good guy with a gun” claim is an NRA and conservative media myth; there is no evidence that having more people carrying concealed guns is the way to stem public mass shootings.

    In recent years, the NRA has taken a two-fold approach in its response to high-profile instances of gun violence. If the NRA sees an opening to push its agenda, it will comment, but if not, the organization will say that everyone should avoid any commentary out of respect to the victims.

    For example, after the June 2015 mass shooting at a historically African-American church in Charleston, SC, the NRA claimed people promoting gun safety in its wake were “exploiting” the attack “for political purposes.”

    But after a gunman killed five members of the military at a naval facility in Chattanooga, TN, in July 2015, the NRA was quick to respond, claiming the incident provided proof that rules about service members carrying guns on military bases must be loosened.

    Loesch herself tweeted last month that “wisdom says to wait” to comment “until more details are known” after a gunman shot and killed five people at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, IL. But evidently this call to wait for facts before “exploiting” a tragedy doesn’t apply if the NRA is the one doing the exploiting.