Grant Stinchfield | Media Matters for America

Grant Stinchfield

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  • NRATV ran defense for Trump after he sold out US in disastrous Helsinki press conference

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, spent an entire day defending President Donald Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was otherwise widely characterized as disgraceful and un-American.  

    While NRATV was running defense for Trump, another significant Russia news story broke: Maria Butina, a Russian pro-gun activist with close ties to the NRA, is being charged with conspiracy against the United States over attempts to establish “back channels” that the FBI says “could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.” According to the charging documents, Butina attempted to use the NRA and other politically minded groups as conduits for her efforts.

    Putin and Trump met for a July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland, for “nearly two hours behind closed doors and another hour” in a press conference. During the press conference, Trump doubled down on his earlier tweet that both countries share blame for the current tense state of relations. He also said Putin’s denial of any election meddling was “extremely strong and powerful,” effectively throwing the U.S. intelligence community -- which has unanimously concluded Russia interfered in U.S. elections -- under the bus.   

    CNN’s Anderson Cooper called the press conference “perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president” during a meeting with Russian leadership, and media figures and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress lambased it as un-American and shameful. Even Fox News’ reliably pro-Trump program Fox & Friends said that the president “fell short” while Fox Business host and Trump booster Maria Bartiromo called the press conference “probably the low point of the presidency so far.”  

    Despite the near-universal criticism, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield defended Trump’s appearance on his July 16 broadcast as “quite an amazing thing to witness,” and exclaimed that Putin and Trump “may even be fond of each other":

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): President Trump and Vladimir Putin wrapped up their summit, meeting, whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter -- it’s all semantics. Two leaders of two very powerful countries met to talk, to try to iron issues out. It appeared to me that President Trump and Vladimir Putin actually like each other. If I ever knew that I had something in common with Vladimir Putin, I didn’t until today. Vladimir Putin admitted that he wanted President Trump to win the election because President Trump talked about normalizing relations with Russia. That is a valid reason why a leader of a giant country like Russia would want President Trump to win. So did I, for that reason and so many others. Listening to these two leaders talk about all the issues at hand, and hearing, right off the bat, Vladimir Putin say the Cold War is a thing of the past and confrontations are a thing of the past is really quite an amazing thing to witness. Now, we know the confrontations will continue. We know Vladimir Putin will still be working against us and, I do believe, still hacking into American computers. I also believe that the United States has put Vladimir Putin on notice, saying, we are on to you. But this meeting showed that these two leaders can get along.

    ...

    STINCHFIELD: So I do believe this will go down as a historic meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. It reminds me of when Ronald Reagan met with [Mikhail] Gorbachev, and I see those pictures even now of the two meeting. It was an amazing sight and I do believe the two of them get along well. They may even be fond of each other. That is actually helpful when you talk about adversaries trying to work through serious, serious issues.                    

    Just before the press conference, Stinchfield had also argued that the indictments of 12 Russians over hacking allegations by the Department of Justice were released last week specifically to “undermine President Trump” going into the meeting with Putin. (During the press conference announcing the indictments, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that he had briefed Trump in advance on the indictments and that the timing was “a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence, and the law and a determination that it was sufficient to present the indictment at this time.”)

    NRATV host Dan Bongino also went to bat for Trump. During the July 16 edition of his evening show We Stand, he praised Trump’s performance at the press conference (albeit noting that “he could have worded some things differently”) and slammed a journalist who dared ask whether Russia has any compromising information on Trump.

    These defenses of Trump come while the National Rifle Association is knee-deep in questions about whether Russian money was funneled through the organization to help Trump during the 2016 presidential election. While NRATV has been happy to absolve Trump of Russia-related wrongdoing, the outlet has been reluctant to address reports of Kremlin involvement in the NRA.

  • NRATV celebrates Brett Kavanaugh's radical view that bans on assault weapons are unconstitutional

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Immediately after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, NRATV, the media arm of the National Rifle Association, cheered a dissent he wrote that argued bans on assault weapons are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. That view is far outside of mainstream legal thought.    

    On July 9, President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, as his nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy and praised his “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and ... proven commitment to equal justice under the law.” Trump picked his nominee from a shortlist of four right-wing federal appeals court judges, and a mounting number of Democratic senators have announced that they will oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.   

    The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislation Action -- the NRA’s lobbying arm -- put out a press release on July 9 applauding Kavanaugh as an “outstanding choice” and highlighting his “impressive record that demonstrates his strong support for the Second Amendment.”  

    In a 2011 challenge to D.C.’s assault weapons ban, known as Heller II, Kavanaugh split from the rest of the D.C. Circuit Court and wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He went as far as to claim that “a ban on a class of arms …. is equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.”

    Based on this position, Kavanaugh would consider bans on the type of firearms most typically used during mass shootings -- including those used in recent massacres in Parkland, FL, Sutherland Springs, TX, and Las Vegas, NV -- unconstitutional. This view is entirely at odds with how federal courts have ruled on the issue. According to The Washington Post, “no federal appeals court has ever held that assault weapons are protected” by the Second Amendment.    

    NRATV host Cam Edwards immediately celebrated Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, tweeting that it was “a better reasoned argument than the majority opinion.” During the July 10 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield suggested gun owners and NRA members “take this appointment as a reward for our hard work” and hailed Kavanaugh as a “strong dissenting voice in the court’s decision to unfortunately uphold the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons.” NRATV host and spokesperson Dana Loesch said she was “very pleased” with Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion during her show Relentless later that same day.

    Edwards joined Stinchfield during the July 11 edition of Stinchfield to continue to praise Kavanaugh’s Heller II dissent:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So, Cam, you’ve been in and around this for a long time. Most of us are looking at the [District of Columbia v.] Heller go-around number two. Dianne Feinstein mentioned it, this was when Kavanaugh dissented in the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons. Have you looked through that ruling? What does it tell you about Kavanaugh?  

    CAM EDWARDS: I have looked through the ruling, Grant, and it’s a great decision. I mean, it’s a great opinion by Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that his opinion had carried the day because he actually looked at what the Supreme Court said in Heller and McDonald [v. Chicago]. And he said, look, it doesn’t matter if I like these gun control laws or I don’t like these gun control laws. What matters is that, under the precedent set by Heller and ratified by McDonald, so we know that these Second Amendment protections don’t just apply to infringement by the federal government, D.C.’s blanket ban on the most commonly sold rifle in America today doesn’t pass constitutional muster. And he made a very commonsense argument. He said, look, in the Supreme Court said in the first Heller case that you can’t ban semi-automatic handguns because those are in common use by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. Well, what’s the difference between a semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic long gun? They’re both in common use, both owned by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. If you can’t ban one, you can’t ban the other.                        

    Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion is a radical interpretation of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s handgun ban in a 5-4 decision. The 2008 ruling, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, explained that the Second Amendment right is “not unlimited” and that there is no “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Specifically, the Heller opinion said that “dangerous and unusual” weapons can be banned under the Second Amendment, which is the rationale federal courts have relied upon in upholding bans. In April, a federal district court judge (who was appointed by Ronald Reagan) rejected a Second Amendment challenge to Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban by positively citing Scalia’s language from Heller that explained cases where gun ownership can be limited.

    Kavanaugh, however, has signaled he would advance the NRA’s interpretation of the constitutionality of assault weapons bans, which defies mainstream legal thought.

  • NRATV ignored the Jason Washington shooting in its live updates for a week straight

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Over the past week, NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet, covered a litany of stories during its hourly live updates but ignored the police shooting of a Black veteran who had a license to carry a concealed weapon in Portland, OR.

    Billed as “live news updates,” NRATV’s Stinchfield airs for 10 minutes at the top of every hour, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Throughout the past week, the show failed to report that Portland State University campus police shot and killed 45-year-old Jason Washington outside a local bar on June 29. Washington was trying to break up a fight and dropped his legally owned firearm on the ground. According to CNN, police officers can be heard in a witness video shouting “drop the gun” repeatedly before firing several shots. The university released a statement that same day confirming that the Portland Police Bureau has launched an investigation into the shooting and that the two officers involved are on “paid administrative leave.”

    The show did, however, cover a range of other stories, including:

    The “Abolish ICE” movement:

    The “utter disgrace” of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

    The border situation:

    “Pretty little socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    Protests on the Fourth of July:

    Immigrants being discharged from the military:

    NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch mentioned the shooting twice during her hour-long show, Relentless, but during both segments she implied that Washington could have avoided the killing by not getting involved in the situation. During the first segment, on the July 2 edition of her show, Loesch referred to the incident as “tragic” but said she was “never going to keyboard quarterback what police are doing” and asked, “Should he have been in that position, even though he was being a good samaritan, because he was carrying?” During the second segment, on July 3, Loesch asked her guest, “Should someone be doing that [intervening in a fight] if they’re concealed carrying and it doesn’t look like this is going to disrupt into something fatal?” and the guest replied, “No, no, no.” Loesch also said, “When police are already there on scene, I think you have to question, do you need to be involved anymore at that point?”

    Loesch’s comments are similar to remarks she made after 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot during a traffic stop. Loesch said at the time that Castile did not deserve “to lose his life over a stop” and the incident was “awful and avoidable,” but she also implied that Castile was partially to blame by highlighting missteps she said he made such as not having his handgun permit visible.

  • Don’t believe anything NRATV says

    The National Rifle Association's media outlet sent a pro-censorship message on social media and then went ballistic when people called it pro-censorship

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s media operation, caused a stir on Twitter Thursday afternoon after sending a tweet that read, “It's time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings because it's killing our kids. It's time for Congress to step up and pass legislation putting common sense limitations on #MSM's ability to report on these school shootings."

    The tweet immediately generated outrage, which is understandable given that it appeared NRATV was promoting the notion that Congress ought to limit how the press can report on gun violence. NRATV, however, had taken itself out of context. The tweet was promoting a video narrated by NRATV host Colion Noir that ultimately concluded that such action by Congress would be wrong.

    Viewers could be forgiven for not sitting through the four-minute video given its painfully bad logic. It essentially equated Congress passing a law to limit how the press could cover shootings to Congress passing a law that regulates gun ownership. This is of course nonsensical given that rights protected by the Constitution are regulated in different ways, something that Noir, a law school graduate, should know.

    Prohibiting the press from reporting on shootings would constitute prior restraint, which would violate the First Amendment. Regulations on firearms, however, are typically permissible under the Second Amendment.

    The 2008 landmark Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller found that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding individuals to have a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. The ruling means that total gun bans are unconstitutional. However, many other regulations are permissible. As Heller’s majority opinion, written by conservative Antonin Scalia, stated, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

    Federal courts have repeatedly upheld laws banning assault weapons, for example. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller,” finding that myriad regulations comport with the Second Amendment right.

    This is all unimportant to NRATV, which crowed about the controversy and was clearly pleased with the result of its dishonest ploy. Noir wrote on Twitter, “I hate to humble brag but My recent  video just exposed how our mainstream media refuses to watch a 4min video in its entirety before reporting on it and pushing their agenda.” Apparently without irony -- given that NRATV took itself out of context -- NRATV’s Twitter account promoted a tweet from The Washington Times that read, “NRATV host Colion Noir enraged critics on Thursday who were eager to use an out-of-context tweet on de facto media control as a serious argument.” During the May 25 broadcast of NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield said of the media, “We here at NRATV set a trap, and they got caught,” adding that it "borderlines on criminality when it comes to the way they abuse the First Amendment."

    Promoting obviously false information is a tactic at NRATV, which has fabricated congressional testimony during its broadcasts to attack its political opponents and even once quoted a satire article published by the NRA’s magazine that was clearly labeled “fiction” as if it were serious in order to encourage people to vote for Donald Trump on Election Day.

    Chillingly, NRATV has actually supported anti-First Amendment measures as part of its pro-Trump efforts, particularly when it comes to the freedom of the press and the right to assemble. While branding itself as a news source, NRATV clearly does not act in good faith and should be thought of less as a legitimate journalism operation than as a propaganda outlet.

  • In the wake of mass shootings at schools, conservatives blame everything but guns

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE, SANAM MALIK & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After nearly every school shooting, right-wing media scramble to find reasons why guns should not be blamed for gun violence.

    After 10 people were killed during a mass shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, TX, pro-gun proselytizers in the conservative media sphere insisted that gun safety laws would not have prevented the shooting and instead pointed to other aspects of American culture that they said required reform. Here are some of the excuses right-wing pundits offered for the May 18 shooting:

    In February, after the school shooting in Parkland, FL, claimed 17 lives, conservative media took the very same approach:

    • Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce claimed that talking about firearms doesn’t get to the “core issue” of “the human condition.” She and the hosts of Fox & Friends also blamed drugs, virtual reality, and video games for the shooting.
    • Radio host Michael Savage tweeted that “liberal judges and the ACLU” were to blame.
    • Fox guest Lou Palumbo blamed “the media, the entertainment industry,” and “the lack of parenting.”
    • Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson blamed “Leftist-run schools” and falsely claimed that the shooter was linked to antifa.
    • Fox News host Laura Ingraham blamed “mental illness”and “broken or damaged families” for the shooting on her show.
    • The Gateway Pundit suggested that the shooter supposedly being a registered Democrat was a factor. (He was not actually a registered Democrat; the blog was forced to correct the story.)
    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter blamed the FBI’s Russia probe for the shooting, tweeting, “The FBI was too busy trying to undermine the president to bother with doing it's (sic) freaking job.”
    • The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson suggested that the shooting was related to the shooter growing up without a father.
    • Liberty One TV’s Joe Biggs (formerly of Infowars) tweeted that the FBI was “too busy chasing Trump/Russia nothing burgers” to have prevented the shooting.
    • Pamela Geller falsely claimed that the shooter was connected to antifa and Islamic terrorist groups.
    • Laura Loomer shared a fake photo of the shooter and speculated that he was a “radical leftist” with potential ties to antifa and Islamic resistance groups.
    • Infowars claimed that the “MSM” (mainstream media) was “already covering it up” that the shooter was likely a “Democratic voter” and had clothing “similar to the style worn by ISIS fighters in Syria.”

    But as others have pointed out, most of the phenomena listed above are also present in other countries that don’t experience nearly as much gun violence as the United States does.