Grover Norquist | Media Matters for America

Grover Norquist

Tags ››› Grover Norquist
  • Facebook took advice from a far-right figure who blamed gay marriage for hurricanes

    Twitter consulted with a right-wing operative with links to extremism

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In efforts to appease fits of manufactured conservative rage over the moderation of hateful content on social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter have relied on the advice of anti-LGBTQ extremists and far-right grifters “to help them figure out who should be banned and what’s considered unacceptable.”

    As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook sought out the advice of right-wing groups including extremists like the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council (FRC) and its president, Tony Perkins. Perkins has compared same-sex marriage to incest, blamed marriage equality and abortion for a destructive hurricane, and called pedophilia a “homosexual problem.” He is clearly not equipped to be an arbitrator on content that oppresses, harassed, and erases minorities. Perkins, along with FRC, has actively opposed LGBTQ equality around the world, supporting a law in Uganda that could have punished “repeat offenders” of same-sex sexual activity with the death penalty, and collaborating with a hate group that worked to pass Russia’s “gay propaganda” law. Domestically, Perkins also called for the State Department to stop supporting LGBTQ rights after President Donald Trump was elected.

    Moreover, FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell has used his Facebook page to regularly push out links from right-wing propaganda sites that have a history of promoting anti-Muslim fake news and conspiracy theories. Blackwell also took part in what was seemingly a promotional campaign with Liftable Media, which owns right-wing propaganda sites like The Western Journal and relies on right-wing media figures to draw online traffic to its pages. And he has shared misleading memes and content from Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the company behind the 2016 presidential election interference on Facebook. Blackwell is also on the board of the NRA, and once blamed the mass shooting at UCSB by a men's rights supporter on marriage equality.

    The Journal’s article also reports that the Heritage Foundation, which has a long history of climate denial and gets funding from fossil fuel companies, has recently “forged a relationship with Facebook.” On Facebook, Heritage Foundation’s media arm, The Daily Signal, has put out anti-science garbage like “Why climate change is fake news,” contributing to Facebook’s climate-denial problem. In 2013, Heritage came under fire for hiring a researcher who wrote that Hispanic immigrants may never "reach IQ parity with whites."  (The researcher later resigned following outrage.)

    Twitter has also sought the advice of right-wing grifters and anti-abortion advocates. According to the Journal, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been in contact with Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, and Norquist has used that access to successfully lobby for conservatives who had trouble getting anti-abortion ads on Twitter. Anti-abortion groups have a habit of claiming censorship in order to bully social media platforms into allowing them to run “inflammatory” content.

    Dorsey also privately sought the advice of Ali Akbar, a right-wing personality with a prominent Twitter presence, when dealing with the question of whether to remove conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from the platform. (After a murky process filled with half-measures to address Jones’ many policy violations, Twitter and its streaming service Periscope finally removed Jones.) Akbar’s history of promoting hateful content on Twitter and Periscope makes him a poor choice for a consultant on hateful content. He once hosted Matt Colligan (“Millennial Matt”) -- a participant in the 2017 “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA -- for a Periscope video in which Colligan waved a flag that had a Nazi swastika. Akbar, who has claimed his talks with Dorsey have been going on for months, was recently briefly suspended from Twitter, seemingly after a tweet in which he accused media of egging on a “civil war in America” and urged his followers to buy guns and ammo. His account was reinstated within a couple of days.

    These examples show tech platforms’ tendency of caving to conservative whims in order to appease manufactured rage over baseless claims of censorship and bias. Evidence shows that right-wing pages drastically outnumber left-wing pages on Facebook, and under Facebook’s algorithm changes, conservative meme pages outperform all other political news pages. Across platforms, right-wing sources dominate topics like immigration coverage, showing the cries of censorship are nothing more than a tactic. And judging by tech companies’ willingness to cater to these tantrums, the tactic appears to be working.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and our warped discourse on taxation

    Media coverage of tax policy privileges GOP extremism while marginalizing progressives

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    It’s been several days since CBS News tweeted out a clip of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) floating a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million to finance a Green New Deal program, and her comments are still generating news stories, commentary, and bluntly dishonest attacks from the right. It’s unusual to see such a media frenzy surrounding a proposal from a newly elected member of the House. But the glut of coverage has provided a needed lesson in how media discourse on taxes is heavily distorted by conservative policy priorities and right-wing political messaging.

    For decades, we’ve been told that tax cuts of any stripe are good, popular, and a political winner. Tax hikes, on the other hand, are presumed to be a political non-starter and something to tiptoe around. The Republican Party obviously bears primary responsibility for this: Anti-tax extremism is a mainstream Republican position, and most GOP politicians will eagerly sign a pledge to never vote to raise taxes. The United States is a low-tax country both by historical and international standards, and yet we’re constantly told that taxes are too high and that economic prosperity can be realized only with still another round of tax cuts.

    One consequence of this dynamic is a persistent double standard that treats Republican tax extremism as de rigueur while Democratic proposals to hike taxes on the rich are met with shock, incredulity, and the knee-jerk assumption of political radioactivity. Anderson Cooper’s immediate reaction to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks was to call them “a radical agenda compared to the way politics is done right now.” Political analysts like CNN’s David Gregory said Ocasio-Cortez wants to “really soak the rich with the idea that that’s ultimately going to help the economy” and that “it’s out of sync with a lot of Americans.”

    The assumption that any public discussion of tax increases is politically toxic for Democrats is baked in even though polling shows that strong majorities of Americans believe that the wealthy don’t pay enough in taxes. (The Republican position of slashing taxes for the rich and businesses, meanwhile, is deeply unpopular.) Jacked-up rates on the super wealthy is a historically moderate policy that would help reduce income inequality, which has ballooned since the Reagan era. In spite of all this, pundits and reporters default to treating tax rhetoric like Ocasio-Cortez’s as extreme and unpopular.

    This mode of thinking is helped along in part by the fact that Democrats in general don’t aggressively make the case for sharply increasing taxes on America’s ultrarich. But mainly it is perpetuated by bad-faith conservatives who lie and deliberately misunderstand tax policy.

    Ocasio-Cortez’s explanation of her thinking on tax policy included a breakdown of the basics of progressive taxation. “Your tax rate, you know, let's say, from zero to $75,000 may be 10 percent or 15 percent, et cetera,” she said. “But once you get to, like, the tippy tops -- on your 10 millionth dollar -- sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent. That doesn't mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate, but it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.”

    My guess is that she included this explanation as a means of inoculating herself against scurrilous accusations that she was proposing a 70 percent rate on all income. Either way, that’s exactly what happened.

    Grover Norquist, anti-tax propagandist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, posted a deliberately obtuse tweet arguing that “slavery is when your owner takes 100% of your production” and “Ocasio-Cortez wants 70%.” Sean Hannity (who is very concerned that rich people be able to buy their luxury seacraft of choice) complained that Ocasio-Cortez “wants a 70 percent federal tax rate for the rich” and warned that “would mean no businesses, no wealthy individual would ever invest, spend money, create jobs in a place where they are taking $0.70 or $0.80 of every dollar.”

    A top-ranking House Republican got in on the disinformation as well:

    It feels safe to assume that all these people know how progressive taxation works and understand what a marginal tax rate is. Even if they don’t, the person they attacked spelled it out for them in basic terms. They’re all just pretending to be ignorant in order to whip up anti-tax sentiment.

    The critical thing to understand about this poisonous dynamic is that it will persist so long as figures like Hannity and Norquist remain the loudest voices in the room and are given the space to dishonestly frame any talk of tax increases as extreme and politically damaging for the left. These cretins aren’t going to stop lying, which means if progressives want to change the media discourse on taxation then they'll have to set ambitious policy goals and make unflinching, affirmative cases for them.

  • No, the Republican Party has not pivoted on climate change

    Don't believe the trend pieces. Just look at what's happening in California.

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Republicans-are-about-to-turn-a-corner-on-climate-change article is a perennial hot take. Its latest iteration comes to us courtesy of Politico. But like its many predecessors in the genre, it misses the real story: Republican politicians who do anything more than give lip service to the need for climate action will get pummelled by their fellow conservatives.

    Politico's story, which ran on August 19, was titled "More GOP lawmakers bucking their party on climate change." It claimed that "an unlikely surge of Republican lawmakers has begun taking steps to distance themselves from the GOP’s hard line on climate change," and that the "willingness of some Republicans to buck their party on climate change could help burnish their moderate credentials ahead of the 2018 elections."

    The article offers two main examples to support its argument: First, the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus "has more than tripled in size since January" and now includes 26 of the House's 240 Republicans. Second, 46 House Republicans voted in July against lifting a requirement that the Defense Department study climate change's impacts on the military.

    But these House members are hardly going out on a limb. The climate caucus does not promote any specific legislation or policies. And military leaders, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have long been concerned about climate change and have voiced no objections to studying it. Indeed, the Politico article notes, "If the Republican Party is undergoing a shift on climate, it is at its earliest, most incremental stage."

    What About California?

    What the article missed was a timely and dramatic counterexample: In California, where a handful of GOP state legislators recently provided the decisive votes in favor of actual climate legislation, they have come under brutal fire from other Republicans.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill on July 25 to extend the state's cap-and-trade system until 2030. He had negotiated with a handful of Republican legislators and with business lobbies, among others, to craft a relatively corporate-friendly bill, not as strong as many environmental justice advocates and other progressives wanted. In the end, three Democrats in the Assembly voted against it, so it was passed only because seven of their Republican colleagues voted for it. One Republican in the state Senate also voted in favor of the bill.

    The blowback against those Republicans was immediate and intense. GOP leaders throughout California are now pushing for the ouster of Republican Assembly Leader Chad Mayes, who played a key role in negotiating the bill and rounding up other Republican votes for it.

    And the blowback has gone national: Powerful D.C.-based anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist declared open season on Mayes and the seven other Republicans who voted “yes,” co-authoring an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times last week that accused Mayes of "treachery" and argued that the California legislature is a "big fat target for taxpayers who wish to go after Republicans behaving badly."

    So even in California -- the most environmentally progressive state, where 72 percent of adults support an ambitious climate law that was passed last year -- Republicans are getting slammed for voting in favor of climate legislation.

    Never mind that they actually helped companies avoid tougher regulations. Never mind that the oil and gas industry participated in drafting the bill and ultimately supported it, as did the agriculture lobby, the California Chamber of Commerce, and other major business groups. Never mind that the law could help Republicans kill the state's high-speed rail project, which they have long opposed. Never mind that the Republican Party desperately needs to change if it wants to regain a foothold in California; only 25.9 percent of the state’s voters are registered as GOP and 7 percent of those voters have told pollsters they’re considering leaving the party over its stance on climate change. Mayes and his compatriots went against GOP orthodoxy, and that’s what their fellow party members care about.

    If this kind of backlash happens in the Golden State, just imagine what would happen in D.C. if the House Climate Solutions Caucus did anything more than gently gesture at the possibility of climate action. Conservative groups in D.C. aren't even satisfied with an administration that's been aggressively rolling back environmental protections; they are pushing the EPA to debate and undermine basic climate science.

    National media should be reporting on the drama unfolding in California when they write about Republicans and climate change. It's been covered by newspapers in the state but missed by virtually all outlets beyond California's borders.

    The Mythical Republican Climate Pivot

    Politico is far from alone in pushing the idea that Republicans might be nearing a tipping point on climate change. Reporters and columnists at national outlets keep publishing versions of this seemingly counterintuitive story and glossing over a key truth: The base and the establishment of the Republican Party will enact harsh retribution on elected officials who endorse policies designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Vice published a piece on August 17 titled "The Republicans Trying to Fight Climate Denial in Their Own Party," which focused on the Climate Leadership Council, a group of former Republican officials who are pushing a carbon tax. The key word there is former; no current Republican members of Congress or prominent officeholders have publicly endorsed such a policy. The story made no mention of the ongoing fight in California.

    Going back a few months, Time ran an article in May headlined "Meet the Republicans Taking On Climate Change," which mentioned both the Climate Solutions Caucus and the Climate Leadership Council. The Guardian ran one in April under the headline "The Republicans who care about climate change: 'They are done with the denial.'" It claimed that "there are fresh shoots of hope that, as a party, Republicans’ climate intransigence is shifting," and it, too, cited the climate caucus.

    Journalists have been writing these sorts of stories for years. I wrote one myself in 2015 for Grist: "Getting warmer: More Republicans are starting to take climate change seriously." It was no more prescient than the others. It began by noting that then-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) had come out in support of President Obama's Clean Power Plan. But the next year, the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity announced that it didn't like Ayotte's embrace of "Obama’s far-left environmental agenda," so it pulled its support from her re-election campaign, and she went on to lose to her Democratic challenger.

    Go all the way back to 2010 for a classic of the genre, a Thomas Friedman opinion column in The New York Times titled "How the G.O.P. Goes Green," which praised Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for "courageously" trying to craft a bipartisan climate bill. Less than four months later, Graham bailed from the whole enterprise and helped to ensure that no climate legislation would pass during the Obama presidency. 

    The Harsh Truth

    It's nice that a handful of congressional Republicans are taking baby steps toward acknowledging that climate change is a big problem that demands big solutions. But their moves are far from courageous, and the media adulation they get is all out of proportion to their clout. Norquist is more influential on this issue than all of the climate-concerned congressional Republicans combined, a fact most journalists are not acknowledging, and Norquist reiterated his die-hard opposition to a carbon tax just last week.

    Many of the articles about Republicans turning over a new leaf on climate cite Bob Inglis or the group he runs, RepublicEN, which promotes conservative climate solutions. Inglis was a U.S. representative from South Carolina until he got primaried out in 2010, in part because he called for a carbon tax. Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform, gave a boost to Inglis' primary challenger. In the years since, Inglis has been working doggedly to get other Republicans to take climate change seriously, but if they followed his advice at this point, they'd likely get booted out in a primary too.

    Just like there's no Donald Trump pivot, there's no Republican climate pivot. We'll know we're seeing real change when more than a handful of GOP lawmakers take a risky vote for actual policy to reduce carbon emissions. Until then, journalists should avoid writing trend stories about this nonexistent trend.

  • Stalin, East Germany, and emancipation: The 12 dumbest takes (so far) on 22 million people losing health insurance

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After a report on the Senate health care legislation by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that the Republican plan would lead to 22 million more uninsured Americans than under the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media figures either tried to spin the CBO report by saying it was “extremely positive,” or attacked and undermined the CBO’s integrity. From an East Germany analogy to the suggestion that senators simply “forget” the millions that will be uninsured, here are 13 of the worst right-wing CBO takes. 

  • NRA Silent On Ted Nugent's Anti-Semitism As It Abets An Anti-Muslim Smear Campaign Against Another Board Member

    The NRA Is Investigating Grover Norquist's Alleged Ties To Islamists But Not Ted Nugent's Anti-Semitism

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Apparently at the National Rifle Association (NRA), being the target of a conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smear is a good way to get yourself investigated and possibly kicked out of the organization. Putting forward conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smears is not.

    As the NRA continues to avoid addressing an anti-Semitism controversy that has embroiled organization board member Ted Nugent, a recall campaign against another board member -- conservative activist Grover Norquist -- is moving forward, even though the campaign's basis is a conspiratorial and anti-Muslim smear.

    Following a decades-long campaign by anti-Muslim think tank head Frank Gaffney, which in the past year has been amplified by conservative radio host Glenn Beck, ballots to officially recall Norquist from the NRA board will appear in the March editions of the NRA's magazines, according to a report by Right Wing Watch.

    For at least 15 years, Norquist, a well-known tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform, has been targeted by Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy, with the claim that he is a surreptitious agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Critics of Gaffney have alleged that his smear campaign is largely motivated by the fact that Norquist is married to a Muslim woman and has Muslim in-laws. One high-profile conservative group investigated Gaffney's claims in 2012 and found them to be meritless.

    Norquist has called Gaffney his "stalker" and has accused Gaffney of also spreading rumors that he is gay and a member of "the Jewish-Russian mafia."

    Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist made headlines again in March 2015 after it was repeatedly promoted by Beck on his nationally-syndicated radio show. Beck, a longtime supporter of the NRA, is a frequent keynote speaker at the gun group's annual meeting.

    Following Beck's endorsement of Gaffney's conspiracy theory, the NRA, at the request of executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, agreed to open an investigation into Norquist's alleged ties "to Islamist groups that have ill intent towards the United States and its allies." The findings of the investigation have yet to be released to the public.

    During the NRA's annual meeting in April 2015, Norquist was reelected to the board, but he also issued a statement saying he had "voluntarily suspended his Board activities pending the outcome of the investigation."

    The NRA has handled controversy surrounding Nugent, who posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page and then subsequently made inflammatory posts and statements about the Holocaust, in a much different manner. Nugent's image suggested that laws regulating guns were the result of a Jewish conspiracy and included descriptions of alleged conspirators such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg," and deceased former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who "Gave Russian Jew immigrants your tax money."

    After declining to comment on Nugent to several media outlets, the NRA released its only statement to date on the controversy: "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA."

    The NRA's refusal to seriously address Nugent's anti-Semitic post comes as the controversy has begun to become enmeshed with Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, which continues to tout Nugent's praise. (Cruz has also lavishly praised Gaffney, calling him "a patriot" who is "clear eyed about radical Islamic terrorism.")

    Unlike the controversy surrounding Norquist, the NRA has given no indication that it intends to investigate Nugent.

  • Grover Norquist Reelected To National Rifle Association Board In Spite Of Glenn Beck's Islamophobic Smear Campaign

    Will Glenn Beck Now Quit The NRA?

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative activist Grover Norquist was reelected to the National Rifle Association's board of directors in spite of a campaign by Glenn Beck and others that baselessly smeared Norquist as a clandestine agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Beck, who frequently delivers the keynote speech at the NRA's annual meeting, previously said he would quit the NRA if Norquist was reelected.

    During an April 11 member's meeting at the NRA's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, NRA election committee chairman Bill Carter announced that Norquist was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA's board, terminating in 2018:

    After announcing the results, Carter added, "These are your boards ladies and gentleman and I ask that they be acknowledged ... and ladies and gentlemen, they are here for you, each and every one of you."

  • On CNN's State Of The Union, Grover Norquist Pretends Conservatives Haven't Fought Obamacare Implementation

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservative activist Grover Norquist falsely claimed that "nobody is keeping anybody out" of the Affordable Care Act and that "the idea that Republicans have not been trying to help is wrong." Norquist's rhetoric ignores Republican efforts to delay implementation of the program, attempts to repeal the law, and activist campaigns discouraging enrollment.

    From the August 18 edition of CNN's State of the Union:

    In fact, Republicans and conservatives have made multiple attempts to discourage adoption of the program by citizens.

    House Republicans have voted to repeal the law 40 times, while some Republican members of Congress and activists are currently promoting the idea of defunding the law.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell in order to dissuade the league from taking part in a public service campaign to educate consumers about the law.

    The House Republican Conference suggested members engage in media tours to "to emphasize the need to repeal ObamaCare" during the August recess.

    26 states with Republican governors or Republican dominated legislatures have refused to set up insurance exchanges in their states, delaying implementation of the law. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of March 2013, "10.8 million uninsured under the new Medicaid expansion limit reside in states where governors oppose the expansion or ar still weighing options."

    Outside groups are also working against enrollment, as reported by Reuters:

    FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s - the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.

    "We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic "Obamacare card" that college students can burn during campus protests.

    Furthermore, Reuters also reports that Crossroads GPS, the pressure group backed by Fox News pundit Karl Rove, plans a dishonest campaign "aimed at elderly voters" that will claim Medicare funds are being used to pay for the new law. A Crossroads spokesman told Reuters that they hope "there may be some traction to repeal the worst parts of the law and eventually repeal the law entirely."

  • Right-Wing Media's Faulty Tax Reform Premise

    Tax Expert: Calls For Revenue Neutral Tax Reform "Incoherent"

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE

    Right-wing media outlets are promoting the fallacious premise that any attempts at tax reform must be revenue neutral, an idea that tax policy experts wholly reject.

    On July 25, The Hill reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would not be involved in the tax reform process set up by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). According to the report, Reid suggested that, while he would not be personally involved in the process, "raising nearly $1 trillion in revenue should be the starting point for any tax reform negotiations."

    Responding to Reid's call for additional revenue from tax reform, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial that suggested true tax reform must be revenue neutral:

    Democrats swear they support something they call "tax reform," but until the Obama Presidency that has always meant trading lower rates for fewer loopholes.

    The Journal's premise that any attempts at tax reform must inherently be revenue neutral was quickly parroted on Fox News. On the July 26 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said Reid has "destroyed tax reform" and claimed "tax reform has always meant lower rates, fewer deductions."

    Varney returned to this false "tax reform" narrative on Fox Business' Varney & Co. In an interview with right-wing tax opponent Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist stated, "as long as Harry Reid is the leader of the Senate there will be no tax reform. He wants a tax increase, instead of tax reform."

    Conservative media's notion that tax reform must be revenue neutral is directly contradicted by experts.

  • Tax Rates And The "Small Business" Zombie Lie

    ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE & ALAN PYKE

    Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans.  Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.

  • Fox Hosts Grover Norquist To Push Tax Myths Amid Spending Negotiations

    ››› ››› MARCUS FELDMAN

    Fox News hosted Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist to advance a number of misleading and false claims aimed at undermining President Obama's tax plan. In reality, Obama's proposal includes significant spending cuts, raising taxes on the wealthiest households will not hurt the economy, and Americans support raising taxes on high-income earners.

  • Board Member Grover Norquist Repudiates NRA's "Massive Obama Conspiracy"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Grover Norquist undermined the NRA's conspiracy theory that President Obama would use his second term to destroy the Second Amendment during a radio appearance on Monday. The NRA has used that claim as the centerpiece of their election efforts.

    Citing the ability of Congress and the Supreme Court to check the power of the Executive Branch, Norquist stated, "So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king." Norquist's comments came during the inaugural edition of Media Matters' new radio program, The Agenda:

    ARI RABIN-HAVT, HOST: Now according to the [NRA's] CEO Wayne LaPierre, this is has all been part of -- and this is a quote -- "a massive Obama conspiracy" to quote "lull gun owners to sleep" so he can eliminate the Second Amendment in his second term. You know, you're a very reasonable guy. Frankly that statement seems unreasonable, that it's all part of a secret plot. Do you agree with Wayne LaPierre on that? That Barack Obama is trying to lull America to sleep so he can ban guns in his second term? Something I don't think is even legislatively possible at this point?

    GROVER NORQUIST: I think in his heart of hearts Obama is not a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and would limit gun rights to the extent that he can. Now the good news for people who care about the Second Amendment is that the House and the Senate have strong support for the Second Amendment. So one of the reasons Obama has been reasonable is that he doesn't have the votes to do something other than be reasonable. And the Supreme Court has also come down on the side of an individual right to be armed. So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king.

    Norquist's statement that Obama "ain't king" stands in sharp contrast to the musings of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has been warning NRA adherents about an Obama plot to end private gun ownership. The theory was first aired out at a political rally in September 2011, when LaPierre suggested that the president's inaction on the gun issue evidenced a "massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country." He went on to claim:

    We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get re-elected, and with no other re-elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution. That's their agenda.

    The theory has been widely ridiculed since its conception. Jon Stewart characterized it as "so crazy, it's f--king crazy." MSNBC host Rachel Maddow summed up the outlandish nature of the theory nicely in October 2011, stating, "The NRA says the way you can tell Obama is coming for your guns, is that he's not coming for you guns. It's genius! That is the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year." Hardball's Chris Matthews reacted to LaPierre's speech by calling him "another strain of the crazy far right."

    But so far the mockery has done little to dampen the NRA's enthusiasm for pushing the conspiracy as the paramount theme of the organization's campaign against Obama's re-election.

  • Myths And Facts About Oil And Gasoline

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG & SHAUNA THEEL

    Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.