Dana Loesch | Media Matters for America

Dana Loesch

Tags ››› Dana Loesch
  • The NRA’s new talking point about background checks is bullshit

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) leadership has broken its silence following last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Comments made by its leadership at CNN’s February 21 town hall on gun violence and during speeches at CPAC indicate that the NRA is coalescing around a misleading talking point that attacks the national background check system for gun purchases.

    Three different times during a 24 hour period, NRA leadership bemoaned that states are not required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system:

    • At CNN’s town hall, NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch said, “We had three lawmakers on this stage and only one of them hinted at reinforcing the background check system. It is only as good as the records submitted to it. Only one of them even got anywhere close to mentioning that. We have to have more than 38 states submit records.” Loesch also asked Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez, “Do you know that it is not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers?”

    • Loesch used the talking point again during her February 22 speech at CPAC, saying, “I want you to all ask yourselves, where are the stories about how only 38 states submit less than 80 percent of criminal convictions to the background checks system. It’s only as good as what’s submitted to it. How many of you knew that? No. Why isn’t [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] calling for that? I have to question whether or not they want this system to fail.”

    • NRA CEO LaPierre hit the same point to attack the press during his speech, saying, “No one gets ratings by telling the truth about how to stop mass killers. So they don’t report that 38 states submit less than 80 percent of their felony convictions to the system, leaving more than 7 million felony convictions in the dark.”

    There’s one major problem with this talking point: The NRA’s actions are the reason states can’t be required to submit disqualifying records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    During the 1990s, the NRA backed a lawsuit Printz v. United States that sought to block the implementation of NICS, which was created by the 1993 Brady Bill.  

    While the system eventually went into effect, the outcome of Printz damaged its effectiveness, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in favor of the NRA’s argument that requiring states to perform background checks for a federal system violated the 10th Amendment.

    The ruling also had implications on whether states can be required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence explains, “Federal law cannot require states to make information identifying people ineligible to possess firearms available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks” because “case law suggests that a federal statute requiring states to disclose records to the FBI would violate the Tenth Amendment” due to the Printz ruling.

    As a result of this state of affairs, all Congress can do is encourage states to submit records using a carrot-and-stick system that provides incentives and disincentives for states to submit records.

    In Loesch’s CPAC comments, she asked “Why isn’t Dianne Feinstein calling for” more records to be put in the system. In fact, Feinstein is the co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would further incentivize states to provide records into the system.

    LaPierre revived the NRA’s past claim today at CPAC that the NRA should be credited for the creation of NICS. But the reality is that when the law was being considered as legislation, the group tried to stymie it at every turn, and once it was enacted attempted to sue it out of existence.

  • NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch lied to Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a simple question for National Rifle Association (NRA) national spokesperson Dana Loesch during CNN’s gun violence town hall: “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic ... weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?”

    Instead of providing the NRA’s well established positions on these questions, Loesch gave a series of dishonest explanations that sought to hide the NRA’s fringe absolutism against gun regulation.

    After some niceties, Loesch purported to answer Gonzalez's question by saying, “I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever. I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any kind of weapon. That's number one.”

    According to Loesch, “This individual was nuts and I, nor the millions of people that I represent as a part of this organization, that I'm here speaking for, none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.”

    Loesch was lying.

    The NRA opposes adding prohibiting categories to the gun background check system that could have included the Stoneman Douglas gunman. As the NRA’s website states, “NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms.” It also opposes a policy called a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” or a “Red Flag” law that has been widely cited as a policy that could have stopped the gunman from having access to firearms. These laws allow family members and law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily remove people’s access to firearms who are a danger to themselves or others.

    Loesch’s dishonesty didn’t stop with that claim. Moments later, while talking about the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Loesch said, “It is not federal law for states to report convictions to the NICS system. It's not federally mandated.” Loesch also argued that the states can convict a person, they "can adjudicate the mentally unfit," but "if a state does not report it to the National Crime Information Center, when you run that form, this individual -- this madman passed a background check." (NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre also used this talking point in his February 22 speech at CPAC.)

    What Loesch failed to mention is that states can’t be required to report disqualifying records because of the outcome of a 1997 NRA-backed lawsuit Printz v. United States.

    The lawsuit was the NRA’s attempt to invalidate the entire national background check system in court before it could be implemented. While the system eventually went into effect, the outcome of Printz damaged its effectiveness, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in favor of the NRA’s argument that requiring states to perform background checks for a federal system violated the 10th Amendment.

    The ruling also had implications on whether states can be required to submit disqualifying records into the background check system. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence explains, “Federal law cannot require states to make information identifying people ineligible to possess firearms available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks” because “case law suggests that a federal statute requiring states to disclose records to the FBI would violate the Tenth Amendment” due to the Printz ruling.

    So far, none of Loesch’s answers were actually about semi-automatic weapons or bump stocks. Gonzalez then interceded to say, “I think I'm gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually, do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?”

    Loesch didn’t mention semi-automatic weapons, but offered some muddled comments about bump stocks and said, “So, that answers your question.” (The organization has a deceitful position on the issue that decreases the chances they will be eventually banned.)

    The NRA had a responsibility to offer straightforward, honest statements about gun policy at CNN’s gun violence town hall, but instead what Loesch offered were lies and spin.

  • Here’s who the National Rifle Association is choosing to represent it at a CNN gun violence town hall

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & CYDNEY HARGIS

    On February 21, CNN will host a town hall on gun violence set to include a wide spectrum of people affected by the Parkland, FL, school shooting. The National Rifle Association was invited to participate and chose to send its national spokesperson, Dana Loesch, to join "students, parents and community members" at the event, breaking with its decision to not participate in a similar 2016 CNN town hall. The NRA’s decision to send Loesch, who is also a far-right conservative commentator with a long history of inflammatory rhetoric, to represent the organization in a town hall discussion about gun safety and legislation that includes survivors of a mass school shooting, clearly demonstrates the extremist, fringe views the NRA has embraced to advance its cause.

  • 8 ridiculous NRA defenses of the AR-15

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In the wake of yet another massacre carried out with an AR-15 assault weapon, here are eight ridiculous defenses of the murder machine from the National Rifle Association (NRA), a major recipient of donations from assault weapons makers:

    1. Banning assault weapons is like racial discrimination

    Discussing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) bill to ban assault weapons following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, past NRA president and current NRA board member Marion Hammer said, “Banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again: the color of a gun, the way it looks. It's just bad politics.”

    2. The NRA put on demonstrations of the AR-15 that downplayed the weapon’s capabilities by highlighting how it makes smaller bullet holes than some other guns​

    In 2013, the NRA held two AR-15 demonstrations at the shooting range it has at its national headquarters, one for Fox News show Hannity and the other for its own media outlet, then called NRA News. Each demonstration dishonestly highlighted the small bullet hole the weapon makes compared to some other guns in order to to downplay the weapon’s lethality. In fact, the AR-15 inflicts grievous harm on human bodies, even in comparison to other commonly owned firearms.

    3. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was carried out with handguns (it was carried out with an AR-15)

    Months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, NRA board member Ted Nugent cited a conspiracy theory surrounding the tragedy to claim that “no so-called assault weapon was used in the grisly murders of the children and teachers in Newton,” but that instead “NBC has reported the butcher used four handguns.” The day after the shooting NBC had reported that only handguns were recovered at the site, but corrected its reporting the same day. The weapon used in the attack was an AR-15 manufactured by NRA donor Bushmaster.

    4. Blaming AR-15 manufacturer Bushmaster for Sandy Hook is like “blaming Kleenex for the flu​"

    Then-NRA News commentator Natalie Foster made the claim in a 2014 video released by the NRA:

    5. If the Founding Fathers had foreseen the invention of the AR-15, they would have “fortified” the Second Amendment “in stone”

    Days after a gunman used an AR-15 to massacre churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, TX, (and weeks after a gunman used assault weapons to carry out a massacre in Las Vegas), the NRA released a video that encouraged people to buy more AR-15 weapons. NRATV commentator Dom Raso said in the video, “I guarantee if the Founding Fathers had known this gun would have been invented, they wouldn't have rewritten the Second Amendment -- they would've fortified it in stone. Because they knew the only way for us to stay free was by having whatever guns the bad guys have.”

    6. The AR-15 is “easy to learn, and easy to use. It’s accurate, it’s reliable” and more people should buy it as protection from terrorists

    The NRA released another video days after the Pulse nightclub shooting also narrated by Raso. The video made a number of arguments praising the abilities of the AR-15: “It’s easy to learn, and easy to use. It’s accurate, it’s reliable." All these characteristics also inadvertently explained how the Pulse gunman was able to kill and wound so many people in a short period of time:

    7. The AR-15 as a good defense against the government

    On June 15, 2017, one day after Rep. Steve. Scalise (R-LA) was shot and others were wounded in a mass shooting, then-NRATV commentator Bill Whittle said, “I personally think it is a mistake for people to say [the AR-15] is used for hunting, or it's used for target shooting. I have my AR-15 to kill people.” Whittle added, “I am not worried about a deer breaking into my house at 4 o’clock in the morning and coming through the window and maybe murdering me or raping my wife, or anything. I am not worried so much about a coalition of deer marching people into extermination camps.”

    He also added, “My weapons are here to defend me against my government.”

    (Whittle left NRATV in September 2017. He was recently uninvited to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for an Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate after his history of making racist comments was raised.)

    8. Regulating the AR-15 “is a war on women”

    During a discussion of assault weapons days after the Pulse massacre, Dana Loesch appeared on Fox News to claim proposals to regulate the AR-15 were “about disarming women” and were a “war on women.” Earlier that day the NRA had announced Loesch had been hired to be the group’s “Special Adviser on Women’s Policy.” She is now the NRA’s national spokesperson.

  • Why is The New York Times publishing discredited gun researcher John Lott?

    Lott’s Times op-ed makes easily disprovable attacks on the national background check system for gun purchases

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The New York Times published an opinion piece by discredited economist John Lott that made false claims about the national background check system for gun purchases and cited a survey that fact-checkers have criticized as unscientific.

    Lott is a well-known pro-gun advocate and frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence and other topics. He rose to prominence during the 1990s with the publication of his book More Guns, Less Crime, although his conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research. He has also faced accusations of data manipulation and fabrication in order to advance a pro-gun agenda.

    Just last week, Lott made headlines after a paper he published claiming undocumented immigrants in Arizona “are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of a crime than other Arizonans” was debunked by the libertarian Cato Institute. As Cato immigration expert Alex Nowrasteh explained, “Lott’s controversial empirical findings regarding the high admission rate of illegal immigrants to Arizona prisons, a finding that contradicts virtually the entire body of research on the topic, stems from his simple misreading of a variable in the 1985-2017 [Arizona Department of Corrections] dataset. Lott thought that ‘non-U.S. citizens and deportable’ describes only illegal immigrants but it does not.”

    In his op-ed for the Times, Lott misrepresented data to attack proposals to expand background checks on gun sales to include private sales -- which constitute a substantial proportion of gun transfers -- by falsely suggesting that the system is broken because of “false positives” that deny legal gun owners the ability to purchase a firearm.

    In his piece, Lott wrote:

    Between 2006 to 2010, the last period for which more comprehensive annual data on the denial of firearm applications by the background check system are available, there were 377,283 denials. But the federal government prosecuted only 460 of those cases, leading to 209 convictions, mostly on charges of providing false information. There was a similarly small number of state prosecutions resulting from the gun purchase denials.

    This data led Lott to conclude that “a high percentage of cases are dropped because the applicant was wrongly denied clearance to buy a gun.” Despite Lott’s repeated touting of this talking point, it is false because it relies on the incorrect assumption that the federal government actually routinely prosecutes people who fail a background check when attempting to purchase a gun.

    A comprehensive analysis from The Washington Post suggests that the vast majority of individuals denied by the background check system are actually legally prohibited from buying a gun. The FBI, which in 2010 was responsible for approximately half of all denials, reported that less than five percent of denials were successfully appealed. The primary reasons for denial were a felony conviction or indictment (47.4 percent) or status as a fugitive (19.1 percent).

    In his Times op-ed, Lott also made the false claim that permissive laws allowing guns to be carried in public are a benefit to public safety. (Credible research indicates these laws actually increase violent crime, in particular aggravated assault.) To support his claim, Lott wrote, “In 2013, PoliceOne, a news and resource site for active and retired law enforcement officers, released a survey finding that over 91 percent of the more than 15,000 ‘verified law enforcement professionals’ who responded supported concealed carry.”

    The 2013 PoliceOne survey was criticized by fact checkers after the National Rifle Association used it to push a false pro-gun talking point, with FactCheck.org concluding “The survey wasn’t a scientific poll that aimed to gather responses from a random sample of the nation’s police officers. Rather, it was a self-selected Internet poll, in which more than 15,000 of PoliceOne.com’s 400,000 registered members chose to respond, either because of email solicitation or a link to the survey on the PoliceOne.com website.”

    Last month, The Times published a glowing profile of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch with the paper terming her a “telegenic warrior” despite criticism that Loesch has used her NRA role to incite violence against journalists and critics of the president. The Times’ acceptance of Lott’s opinion piece is another indication of how much the paper is willing to kowtow to pro-gun activists, no matter how extreme or false their claims are.

  • The National Rifle Association’s first year as Trump propagandists

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    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 grievancesretrograde 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.

    Trump’s rise coincided with a radical change in tone from the NRA’s expanded media operations

    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.

    The NRA’s war on the right to protest the government

    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.

    NRA takes its attacks on the press to authoritarian heights

    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

    • wildly attacking specific outlets, including telling The New York Times that “we’re coming for you,” and claiming The Washington Post has a “role in the organized anarchy of the violent left.”

    NRATV gaslights the public with pro-Trump propaganda

    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. 

    What does the NRA have to show thus far as a result of these messaging techniques?

    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.

  • New NRA ad warns Trump opponents "will perish in the political flames of their own fires"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The latest National Rifle Association ad, narrated by the group’s national spokesperson, Dana Loesch, promises that opponents of President Donald Trump will fail in attempting to destroy the country and will then “perish in the political flames of their own fires.”

    During the one-minute video, released on October 20, Loesch accused the “highest levels of government, [...] media, universities and billionaires” of “driv[ing] their daggers through the heart of our future” in an attempt to “build their utopia from the ashes of what they’ve burned down” before saying such groups “will perish in the political flames of their own fires”:

    DANA LOESCH: We are witnesses to the most ruthless attack on a president, and the people who voted for him, and the free system that allowed it to happen in American history. From the highest levels of government, to their media, universities and billionaires, their hateful defiance of his legitimacy is an insult to each of us. But the ultimate insult is that they think we’re so stupid that we’ll let them get away with it. These saboteurs, slashing away with their leaks and sneers, their phony accusations and gagging sanctimony, drive their daggers through the heart of our future, poisoning our belief that honest custody of our institutions will ever again be possible. So they can then build their utopia from the ashes of what they burned down. No, their fate will be failure and they will perish in the political flames of their own fires. We are the National Rifle Association of America. And we are Freedom's Safest Place.

    This is not the first time the NRA has released a video featuring Loesch that is laden with violent innuendo. In an April 7 video, Loesch characterized dissent against the president as “the violence of lies” and said it should be countered with “the clenched fist of truth.” After mounting criticism, including from critics who said the ad was an incitement to violence, Loesch appeared on NRATV to say that she was “proud” of the “fantastic ad.”

  • Press group slams "blatantly irresponsible" NRA for releasing videos that "may incite violence against journalists"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    A trade group representing publishers including The New York Times, The Associated Press, 21st Century Fox, and dozens of other major news outlets sent a letter to the National Rifle Association (NRA), slamming the gun organization’s “incendiary language” against the media and calling their actions “un-American.”

    Through its online news outlet NRATV, the gun group has launched a series of attacks against the New York Times in recent months with videos featuring NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. In the video, which was released in April but resurfaced in recent weeks and caused controversy, Loesch said to the Times staff: “Consider this the shot across your proverbial bow. We are going to fisk the The New York Times and find out just what ‘deep and rich’ means to this old gray hag, this untrustworthy, dishonest rag that has subsisted on the welfare of mediocrity for one, two, three, more decades. We're going to laser-focus on your so-called ‘honest pursuit of truth.’ In short, we're coming for you.”

    On September 5, Digital Content Next called out the NRA's videos in a letter addressed to Loesch, stating that while it is her right to express “disagreement” with the Times and other publications, “it is our right to suggest in the strongest terms that your behavior is blatantly irresponsible” and that it is “un-American to threaten journalists.” A CNN.com article about the letter noted that the NRA “has increasingly criticized media outlets” and that experts believe this is being done “to motivate existing members and recruit new members”:

    A trade group that represents The New York Times, the Associated Press and other major publishers is calling out the NRA, accusing the gun rights group of crossing a line and threatening journalists.

    "We were taken aback by your recent criticism of The New York Times," the group Digital Content Next wrote in a letter to NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch on Tuesday.

    In a viral video last month, Loesch harshly attacked the Times as an "untrustworthy, dishonest rag." She said her video was a "shot across your proverbial bow."

    "We're going to laser-focus on your so-called honest pursuit of truth," Loesch said. "In short: We're coming for you."

    The video received ample attention in conservative media circles. Fox News said the NRA was "targeting" the Times.

    [...]

    Without a Democratic president in power to be a focus of its messaging, the NRA has increasingly criticized media outlets like The Times. Analysts have speculated that the group is doing so to motivate existing members and recruit new members.

    Michael Luo, editor of NewYorker.com, wrote last month that Loesch's web videos are "strikingly bellicose even by the standards of the association."

    Launched in October 2016 as a rebranding of NRA News, NRATV has frequently attacked journalists, showed disregard for the concept of a free press, and spread blatantly false pro-Trump propaganda.

    In July, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield released a video accusing The Washington Post of playing a “role in the organized anarchy of the violent left,” and claimed the Post's reporting has done “more damage to our country with a keyboard than every NRA member combined has ever done with a firearm.”

    In previous comments on his NRATV show, Stinchfield has called critical reporting on Trump and his transition team “anti-patriotic” and a plot by the media to “destroy our republic” and claimed that reporting on allegations of sexual assault against Trump was part of “the mainstream media’s assault against freedom and the Constitution.”

    Loesch also caused controversy this summer for narrating another video released on NRATV in which she claimed the left uses the media “to assassinate real news” and that “the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” Vox.com called the video “chilling” and the Washington Post called it “an ad designed to provoke fear, if not incite violence.” 

  • A guide to NRATV: NRA's news outlet is a hybrid of Breitbart and Infowars

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Launched in late 2016, NRATV serves as the news outlet for the National Rifle Association, regularly defending President Donald Trump, slamming mainstream media outlets as “dishonest rags,” and viciously criticizing any politician or activist who speaks out against the president and his policies. While some of the outlet’s coverage focuses on gun policy, the newest developments in firearms technology, and tactical shooting, the programming has largely become a platform for far-right conservative talking points that are often unrelated to gun policy. As NRATV has strayed away from gun coverage, it has sparked a number of controversies and drawn widespread criticism in its inaugural year. 

  • With Charlottesville attack, NRATV confronted with terrorism it doesn’t want to hype

    NRATV produced the infamous “clenched fist of truth” ad critics recently said called for violence against protesters

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Every weekday morning starting at 9 a.m., the National Rifle Association’s news outlet NRATV begins its broadcast with a show -- Stinchfield, hosted by Texas radio personality Grant Stinchfield -- that “brings you live news updates and interviews” and “tackles the issues the mainstream media won't.”

    On Monday it quickly became apparent that there are some topics the mainstream media will cover, but NRATV still won’t. Throughout the morning, the show completely ignored a story that had shaken the nation. On Saturday a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd demonstrating against white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA, killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

    The first hourly update of Monday’s show, the first to air since Saturday’s attack, covered gun violence in Baltimore. The 10 a.m. update covered the NRA’s upcoming “concealed carry” fashion show, the 11 a.m. hour featured discussion of the Czech Republic’s gun laws, and the noon update was about a police officer mistakenly asked not to bring his firearm into his doctor’s office. The last update of the day, at 1 p.m., talked about a case where a bureaucratic error caused a New York man to have his guns temporarily confiscated.

    (Later in the day NRATV’s talk radio-style program Cam & Company touched on Charlottesville in commentary that criticized right-wing and left-wing extremists.)

    The lack of coverage of Charlottesville on Stinchfield was conspicuous given that terrorism is typically a bread-and-butter topic for the NRA program.

    Consider Stinchfield’s coverage choices on June 5, two days after terrorists affiliated with ISIS used a car to run over pedestrians on London Bridge before attacking others with knives. All five segments that day were devoted to the attack, which was hyped during each update with a “terror alert” chyron:

    Programming that day used the attack to push the NRA’s conservative agenda, including calling for the surveillance of mosques and for more British citizens to be armed. Similarly, all five updates on May 23, following the Manchester Arena bombing, were devoted to pushing NRA talking points in light of the attack.

    Stinchfield also covered the June 19 terror attack in north London where a man drove a van into a crowd of civilians outside of a mosque. But in that case Stinchfield would only call it a “maybe attack” and said that “something just seems odd” about the incident that law enforcement said targeted Muslims.

    After a gunman in Fresno, CA, killed three people in April, updates on Stinchfield repeatedly labeled the shooting terrorism despite law enforcement’s insistence that the attack wasn’t terrorism, but instead a hate crime based on anti-white sentiment.

    Beyond the clear double standard NRATV employs when making coverage decisions about terrorism, Stinchfield’s silence on Charlottesville is even more significant given that NRATV released an enormously controversial ad earlier this year that critics recently called an incitement to violence against liberal protesters.

    The ad conflated isolated incidents of property damage during anti-Trump protests with the resistance movement at large, giving viewers the false impression that protests against Trump are often violent. The spot was narrated by NRATV commentator and NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch, a daily guest on Stinchfield, who said “the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.”

    Instead of talking about Charlottesville, renewed criticism of the ad, or what the NRA thinks about anti-racist protesters, Loesch devoted her Monday appearance to a week-old local interest story of little import.