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Oliver North

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

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

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

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

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This post has been updated for clarity.

  • New lawsuit highlights major infighting between NRA, NRATV, and their production company

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma City-based Ackerman McQueen, which has been the group’s ad agency for nearly 40 years and produces the pro-gun extremist network NRATV.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit was filed on April 12 and claims that Ackerman McQueen “was obliged to provide access to records underlying its bills” but that as of halfway through 2018, some such requests from the NRA had been “rebuffed or baldly ignored.” The lawsuit also zeroes in on NRA President Oliver North, who has a contract with Ackerman McQueen to host the NRATV show Oliver North’s American Heroes. The NRA says it is required to disclose and approve its top officials’ pay, but that neither North nor Ackerman McQueen will share all the details of their contract.

    The article highlights a split between the “pro-Ackerman McQueen faction” of the NRA’s board, who think the law firm leading the lawsuit is charging too much, and those who think it is “money ... well spent, because it’s for the survival of the NRA,” which reportedly includes Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.    

    Ackerman McQueen and the NRA have long had a symbiotic relationship. The NRA's lawyer who is handling the lawsuit is related to two top Ackerman officials, and some employees have worked with both organizations, either alternating or at the same time. The ad agency was responsible for some of the NRA’s darker videos and helped former NRA President Charleton Heston hone his imagine as he led the organization.

    This latest bout of infighting, however, comes a little over a month after NRA board member Marion Hammer went on record to The New York Times questioning “the value of” NRATV network and less than six months after layoffs hit the network.

    The NRA’s media platform has been a cesspool of bigotry and extremist talking points for over a decade. Those characteristics were on full display last month when NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch shared an image of the trains from the children’s TV show Thomas & Friends wearing KKK hoods to protest the show’s focus on diversity. The move reportedly left LaPierre “livid and embarrassed.”   

  • NRA is trying to sell memberships on the backs of service members who can’t be home for the holidays

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association is encouraging people to buy its membership by playing on the fact that service members will be away from their families during the holidays.

    In the two-minute spot released on December 12, NRA President Oliver North points out, “As we gather with loved ones this holiday season, tens of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, and Marines won't be home this year.” North then encourages supporters to buy NRA memberships because, as he claims, "the very freedoms" service members are "protecting are under siege from powerful, wealthy oligarchs who are financing a disarm-America movement.”

    The ad comes amid reports that the NRA is facing increasing financial troubles. Recent tax filings indicate that the NRA lost $55 million in revenue between 2016 and 2017, which was partly driven by membership revenue falling 22 percent from $163 million to $128 million. The gun group has implemented cost-saving measures including eliminating perks like free coffee for employees and downsizing its online media operation NRATV.

    The NRA has previously used the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle disaster to raise funds.

  • Major neo-Nazi website sees NRA’s recent hard-line messaging as its best hope to kill all Jewish people

    The Daily Stormer: “It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and join up with the country’s single effective pro-white organization intent on fully SMASHING THE JEW”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The Daily Stormer -- a major online hub for racists and anti-Semites that has followers who have committed mass murder -- has been telling its readers to join the National Rifle Association, as the neo-Nazis who run the website see a successful NRA as their best possible hope to see Jewish people subjected to another Holocaust.

    The Daily Stormer has been very pleased with the NRA’s hard-line messaging in the Trump era: As the neo-Nazi website itself notes, the NRA frequently singles out Jews as its political enemies and refuses to condemn anti-Semitic actions taken by members of its leadership. A February 2017 Daily Stormer article explained, “There is basically zero chance that [NRA leader Wayne] LaPierre and others in the top ranks of the NRA aren’t aware of the Jewish issue, especially as it relates to the second amendment. They’ve remained silent on this topic until now, scared of the media power that the Jews possess. But things are changing.”

    The Daily Stormer has frequently promoted NRA membership drives, including repeatedly linking to an NRA recruitment website and claiming,“The number 1 source of new recruits for the NRA has always been the Daily Stormer.”

    In articles posted on the website, Daily Stormer writers implore readers to join the NRA:

    According to The Daily Stormer, “The NRA is the country’s premiere pro-white and anti-Semitic organization. In fact, it is the only right-wing group of any kind in this country to have any success at all in the last 50 years.”

    The Daily Stormer clearly sees the NRA as a tool it can use to instigate wide-scale attacks against Jewish people. Here are a few pro-NRA threatening messages the site has posted:

    The Daily Stormer also posted a meme featuring NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch to threaten, “Our patience has its limits,” writing, “And guess what kikes? Your outrage machine is broken.”

    Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, The Daily Stormer backed the NRA’s calls for arming teachers, writing:

    The Daily Stormer is endorsing a plan to take it a step further, and arm the students as well.

    Say you’re in class, the teacher is writing something on the board, and a Jew pulls out a gun. The teacher has his back to the class and doesn’t see the Jew make his move – but you’re sitting behind him, and you’ve got a clean shot – why shouldn’t you be allowed to take it?

    The Daily Stormer is particularly enamored of five high-profile NRA employees: Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, President Oliver North, national spokesperson Dana Loesch, NRATV host Chuck Holton, and NRA board member Ted Nugent.

    The Daily Stormer has labeled LaPierre “/ourlad/” and “Reichsmarschall,” the highest military rank in Nazi Germany, and favorably called the NRA leader an “anti-Semitic white nationalist.” In particular, the site likes LaPierre because of a speech he gave after the Parkland school shooting in which he called opponents of the NRA “European-style socialists,” which, as The Daily Stormer explained, “everyone acknowledges, means ‘Jews’” or “the gun-grabbing kikes.” The Daily Stormer has favorably mentioned that LaPierre “gave a speech calling out the Jews as gun grabbers,” noted that LaPierre “purposefully pushed for an open war with the Jews,” and written that “he literally put out a Jew list, showing that everyone who disagrees with gun rights is a Jew. And he has to know, too. There is no way you list off a dozen Jews – and not a single goy – without noticing that pattern.” Indeed, LaPierre has frequently targeted Jews during his public remarks.

    In May, The Daily Stormer heaped praise on North after he became president of the NRA. An article on the neo-Nazi website argued, “The NRA just made a great pick for their new head. Great, great pick.” The website described North’s involvement in the Iran-Contra arms trafficking scandal as a positive, writing, “This is one guy who definitely does not give a single fuck about having a license to buy and sell weapons. For those who don’t know – the Iran-Contra ‘scandal’ was a program of selling weapons to Iran and using the money from that to fund communist-killing death squads in Latin America.” The article speculated that as president of the NRA, North could help arm Iran with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that the country could then use against Israel.

    The Daily Stormer also has a lot of praise for NRA national spokesperson Loesch, whom it calls “Princess Dana.” The site praised the gun group for not firing Loesch for her recently resurfaced 2010 tweet that said, “I bet Rick Sanchez was fired by a Jew.” (Sanchez was fired from CNN after he made anti-Semitic remarks about comedian Jon Stewart.) Loesch said that her tweet was meant to be an appeal to poetic justice. The Daily Stormer wrote that instead of firing her, the NRA “doubled-down by giving her a show about how she is going to destroy the Jews,” referencing promotional material for her NRATV show Relentless in which Loesch has threatened members of the media that their “time is running out.”

    The Daily Stormer has also praised Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the NRA’s media operation NRATV. During a July 2017 appearance on NRATV, Holton suggested that Black people were poised to commit mass rape and murder against white people while referencing “what’s happening in South Africa.” In response, The Daily Stormer wrote, “Holy shit! The NRA cited the White Genocide in South Africa as a warning to America!” Holton has a lengthy history of promoting white nationalism and making racist comments, and he has repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that Jewish philanthropist George Soros is behind the migrant caravan traveling through Central America and Mexico -- a remarkably similar theory to the one that inspired a gunman to carry out an anti-Semitic massacre at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue in October. The site is aware of NRATV and has disturbingly noted, “A NRA tv channel calling out ‘socialist corruption’ 24/7 would be the best thing ever, especially considering that all of these ‘European-style socialists’ are actually Jews.” (Three months after that Daily Stormer article was published and a day after an ISIS terror attack in Manchester, U.K., Holton argued on NRATV that “this wave of violence that we’re seeing across Europe is a symptom of the broader problem of multiculturalism and socialism.”)

    The Daily Stormer also lauded NRA board member Ted Nugent for sharing an anti-Semitic meme on Facebook without repercussions from the NRA, writing, “I’ve gotta give it to Ted. I expected an apology within hours. Instead he is just straight trolling these Jews. It’s fantastic.” In February, a Daily Stormer article defending the NRA as a friendly home for anti-Semites brought up the incident: “Remember another NRA spokesperson, Ted Nugent, posted that one meme a couple years ago… So, the NRA knows and the Jews know the NRA knows, and both sides want to escalate that.”

    The NRA’s recent adoption of more extreme messaging tactics is not lost on The Daily Stormer. As the neo-Nazis who run the website cheered in a March article, “The NRA is done with euphemisms.”

  • NRA President Oliver North helped cover up the gun murder of a dissident journalist on U.S. soil

    The sordid affair took place during the 1980s when North was involved in the Iran-Contra conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    While working for the Reagan administration in the 1980s, National Rifle Association President Oliver North was part of a group of administration officials who allowed the then-dictatorial Taiwanese government to get away with murdering a dissident journalist living in California. Members of Congress later made an issue out of the murder, leading to democratic reforms in Taiwan.

    North’s role in attempting to cover up the politically motivated murder of a U.S. citizen with a gun is yet another dark irony of his later ascent to the presidency of NRA, which calls itself the country’s oldest civil rights organization and frequently fearmongers about the prospect of criminal gangs running unchecked.

    Henry Liu was shot to death by two men at his home in Daly City, CA, on October 15, 1984. Liu, a naturalized U.S. citizen who worked as a freelance journalist, had been a critic of the Kuomintang party’s rule of Taiwan and was living in the U.S. in part because he hoped to avoid oppression by his home country’s government. It was later revealed that Liu had been murdered by members of a criminal gang on orders of an intelligence official in Taiwan.

    Liu’s murder was revisited in an opinion piece by John Pomfret published this week in The Washington Post. The op-ed drew parallels between that incident and the recent murder of Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian government.

    Information about Liu’s murder was intercepted by the National Security Agency, but as Pomfret noted, “Both the Reagan White House and Taiwan’s president worried that the investigation could affect U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which in 1984 had soared to more than $1 billion. The White House also wanted Taiwan to contribute to Oliver North’s campaign to fund the contras fighting the Sandinista-led government in Nicaragua.”

    According to the 2005 book Lee Teng-hui and Taiwan's Quest for Identity, “Among other measures, [then-president of the Republic of China] Chiang Ching-kuo contributed one million U.S. dollars to Oliver North’s Contra secret Swiss account. Thus, in the eyes of Ronald Reagan’s aides, such as Oliver North and Michael Deaver -- the latter reportedly had once been retained on a $5,000 per month basis by Taiwan government -- Chiang Ching-kuo was just another nice, garden-variety dictator who should be left unmolested.”

    North was later criminally prosecuted for his role in the illegal gun-running Iran-Contra scheme.

    Some members of Congress did not share the Reagan administration’s goal of letting the Chinese Nationalist Party get away with murder. Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY) launched “congressional hearings to publicize an extensive network of Kuomintang spies in the United States who were monitoring dissidents from Taiwan. Solarz added an amendment to the Arms Export Control Act, banning weapons sales to countries that engage in ‘intimidation and harassment’ of people in America.” These efforts resulted in the criminal prosecution of a Kuomintang government official involved in the murder, and a number of democratic reforms followed in Taiwan.

    Commenting after the murder of her husband, Helen Liu told The Associated Press that “America is his ideal country” and that “He always used it as a standard for China and Taiwan. That’s why he criticized both (countries). He enjoyed the freedom he had here, the spiritual life or the material life we had here.”

  • NRATV runs defense for Brett Kavanaugh and falsely smears his protesters as “violent thugs”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    As protests mounted following the sexual assault reports against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, NRATV went to bat for President Donald Trump’s pick by mischaracterizing these peaceful demonstrations as “violent” actions by “radical thugs.”

    Protests initially began the first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and they continued to gain momentum after two women came forward to report Kavanaugh for sexual misconduct when they were in high school and college. On September 24, NRATV released a video featuring the organization’s president and disgraced Iran-Contra figure, Oliver North, who accused Democrats of coordinating “violent protests to smear a father and run his children out of the room.” While Kavanaugh’s family did leave the hearings, sources told CNN, “That was always the plan.” And the footage of “violent protests” shown in the NRATV video actually featured peaceful protesters being escorted out by police.

    During one of NRATV’s hourly 10-minute updates, Stinchfield, which aired at 9 a.m. on September 25, host Grant Stinchfield aired a video of a crowd of protesters confronting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a restaurant chanting, “We believe survivors” and said, “The violent left is at it again.” Stinchfield also claimed he had “gotten word” that there are “busloads of people headed for D.C., leftists willing to enact in actions just like that one” and to “disrupt the next round of hearings for Brett Kavanaugh.”

    Two hours later, Stinchfield called the protesters “a bunch of radical thugs who see nothing wrong with mob rule” and demanded their behavior be “stamped out”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): A bunch of radical thugs who see nothing wrong with mob rule went at a United States senator last night.

    So that threatening mob surrounded Sen. Ted Cruz at a restaurant last night. Their speech is disgusting -- we had to clean it up. These threatening and violent thugs are the new face of the liberal left. These people pack houses and crowds and they say they’ll resist at all costs. And they say that they will do that. They’re dangerous and extremism should be called out, but it’s not. The liberal leaders encourage it, work it into their plans and call for more of it. I wish the mainstream media would wake up and stop supporting these violent thugs. This behavior should be stamped out. There is no place in it in a civil society.

    During the September 26 edition of his show, Stinchfield again warned the capital should “prepare for an onslaught of violent, left wing disruptors. … Many busloads of anti-gun, anti-freedom, anti-American chaos creators are headed to D.C. to unleash havoc on the next phase of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.” He claimed this strategy is “straight out of their anarchist playbook” and that protesters “think nothing about forcing those they target to live in fear, and they think nothing about ultimately turning to violence to get their way or make their point.”  

    NRATV previously aired footage of Antifa members causing property damage on Inauguration Day, falsely identifying the footage as from the Women’s March, which took place the next day.

    NRATV has long been a propaganda outlet for Trump, particularly during the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference. This isn’t the first time NRATV has run defense in Kavanaugh’s support. The network’s hosts have worked to discredit the sexual assault reports against Kavanaugh since they surfaced, and the NRA itself followed suit by launching an ad campaign in support of his nomination.

  • 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.

  • NRA President-elect Oliver North smears Parkland survivors as criminals

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North, a former Fox News contributor and a national security aide in the Reagan administration, claimed that survivors of the February school shooting in Parkland, FL, are engaged in “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking” in their advocacy for stronger gun laws.

    North, who was chosen president of the NRA by the group’s board of directors earlier this week, made the comments in an interview with The Washington Times.

    North commented on activism by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, saying they were involved in harassment, intimidation, and illegal activities. He did not provide any evidence for his claim. From the Times:

    He said the young survivor-activists who have emerged as representatives for gun restrictions — and as fierce opponents of the NRA — are getting swept up by a broader propaganda machine.

    “What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he said. “Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA.”

    Unlike the Parkland activists, North does know something about criminal activity. While serving in the Reagan administration, he was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the U.S. secretly selling arms to Iran, and was convicted of three felonies for his role in it. North’s convictions were later vacated, although in 1994, a judge revoked his permit to carry a concealed gun in public, citing North’s “conviction for crimes involving moral turpitude.”

    North also said that the NRA was receiving threats and that a “cyberwar” was being carried out against the organization, and he compared the NRA to victims of the Jim Crow era:

    Mr. North said the NRA is now the victim of “civil terrorism” after vandals splashed fake blood on the Virginia home of a top NRA official and other opponents aimed personal “threats” at NRA leaders and members.

    “They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said.

    “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing,” he said. “We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”

  • Disgraced Iran-Contra figure Oliver North to become NRA president

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Oliver North, a central figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra arms dealing scandal, will become the NRA’s president during the next few weeks, according to a report from CNN’s Dana Bash:

    North’s ascendancy to the presidency is a deviation from the group’s standard succession for the position. In recent years, NRA presidents have served two-year terms. Current president Pete Brownell, a gun, ammo, and accessory retailer, was elected in 2017, meaning that he will leave his term a year early.

    Additionally, for the past several terms, after serving two years, the NRA president has been succeeded by the group’s first vice president. For example, Brownell was first vice president during the term of NRA President Alan D. Cors between 2015 and 2017. Cors had served as first vice president during Jim Porter’s two-year term, which began in 2013.

    A statement released by the NRA confirming North will become president noted that “to devote his full time and energy to his family business,” Brownell would not seek re-election. The statement did not explain why Brownell is leaving before his term expires.

    It is also unclear whether the change in succession will change the role of the president; NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has far more control over the organization's direction.

    North is a current member of the NRA board of directors, with a term that expires in 2019, and is also the co-host of a show on the NRA’s media operation NRATV. He has also been a longtime contributor for Fox News but will leave that position effective immediately, according to the NRA statement.

    Along with his involvement in the Iran-Contra arms dealing scandal -- for which his convictions for several felonies were overturned in 1990 -- North has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric and has been enmeshed in other controversies:

    • During a 1993 GOP fundraising dinner that proceeded North’s failed run for Senate, North “told the crowd that he tried to telephone [Bill] Clinton, but the White House switchboard wouldn’t let him through until he disguised his voice with a lisp,” according to the Williamson Daily News. When asked to apologize by an LGBT group, North responded, “If it angered some subset, that’s their problem.”
    • During a 2010 appearance on Fox News, North argued that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would lead to pedophiles being admitted into the armed forces. North also wrote a Fox News opinion piece in which he argued that, by repealing the policy, Obama would succeed where Adolf Hitler and other dictators failed in destroying the U.S. military.  
    • North claimed in 2010 that Obama had a “core philosophy of being anti-American.”
    • North’s charity Freedom Alliance was accused from the left and right of misappropriating funds meant for scholarships.
    • Writing at The Patriot Post in 2010, North recounted a conversation he had with a man who told him, “I believe slavery was evil. But the way our government is acting today, I think I understand why the South seceded.” North said that the man’s comments were “strong stuff” before comparing Obama to President James Buchanan.
    • During a 2011 speech at the NRA annual meeting, North said, “We need a commander-in-chief who cares more about the troops he leads than his birth certificate,” referring to Obama addressing the smear that he wasn’t born in the United States.
    • In 2012, North was accused of plagiarism after language from a Vietnam veteran’s memoir appeared in his column for Fox News without attribution.
    • While appearing on Fox News in 2012, North called a remote Afghan region “Injun country.”
    • During a 2013 appearance on NRA News, North called the Civil War “the War Between the States,” a Confederate term.
    • As recently as 2013, North was still falsely insisting that Iraq's late President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
    • The Intercept reported in 2017 that North and Blackwater founder Erik Prince were in talks with the Trump administration about the creation of a “a global, private spy network” that would serve “as a means of countering ‘deep state’ enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency.”
  • Torture fan Sean Hannity still hasn't been waterboarded like he promised

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Gina Haspel’s nomination to be director of the CIA has reinvigorated the long-simmering controversy over the George W. Bush administration’s decision to turn America into a torture state. Haspel, who oversaw the torture of one detainee at a CIA black site in 2002 and later engineered the destruction of videotaped evidence of torture, is being held up as a hero by conservative pundits who celebrate her “toughness.”

    One of those pundits, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, has spent the past week defending Haspel and advocating for the torture techniques she implemented. “We can't have evil exist in this world without doing something to counter it,” he said on his March 13 show. “And if it means that terrorists caught on the battlefield are forced to answer questions, well, sadly that’s what you have to do because you are dealing with evil.”

    This line of argument resurrects an issue related to the torture controversy that has remained conspicuously unresolved for nearly a decade: Sean Hannity promised to be waterboarded but still hasn’t done it.

    Hannity has long been an advocate for torture, and one of his more curious pro-torture strategies is to dismiss its unpleasantness while simultaneously lauding its effectiveness. Back in April 2009, while speaking to actor Charles Grodin on his Fox News show, Hannity said: “Is it really so bad to dunk a terrorist's head in water and make him talk? Tell me what's wrong with that.” Later in the program, the two had this exchange:

    CHARLES GRODIN: Have you ever been waterboarded?

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): No, but Ollie North has and I've talked to him about it.

    GRODIN: And how -- would you consent to be waterboarded?

    HANNITY: Yes.

    GRODIN: So we could get the truth out of you?

    HANNITY: Yes. Sure.

    GRODIN: We can waterboard you?

    HANNITY: Sure.

    GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

    HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it.

    GRODIN: I wouldn't do it.

    HANNITY: I'll do it for the troops' families.

    That was almost nine years ago, and Hannity still has not been waterboarded, but not for lack of trying. Keith Olbermann, then an MSNBC host, tried to get Hannity to live up to his promise by pledging $1,000 to charity for every second of torture Hannity could endure. Four years after his initial promise, ThinkProgress called into his radio show to ask when he was going to follow through, and Hannity snapped at the reporter for being rude. “Here I am, nice enough to bring you on the program and give you an opportunity to give your pretty radical left-wing point of view,” he said, “and that’s kind of -- you know what -- the way you treat me.”

    And now here we are in the year 2018 and Hannity is still noticeably unwaterboarded and still hiding behind the fact that his buddy Oliver North knows what it’s like. “Have you been waterboarded in your life, in your career in the military as a marine that served his country and have a Purple Heart or two,” Hannity asked North on his March 15 show. North said yes he had as part of SERE training, a program soldiers go through to learn how to resist -- you guessed it -- torture. “I waterboarded at least 150 people,” North said, “some of whom I'm sure are right now wondering what the heck is going on because it was all legal before.”

    Look, Sean, one of the sad consequences of the utter lack of torture accountability and your status as a premier advocate of state-sponsored barbarism is that the torture issue isn’t going away, which means this whole “I volunteered to be waterboarded” issue isn’t going away -- that is, until you get waterboarded. No one is saying you’re a coward, Sean. In no way am I implying that the reason you haven’t followed through on your nine-year-old promise to be waterboarded for charity is that behind the bravado lurks a secret terror of what the “dunking” entails.

    Quite the contrary, in fact. I think your promise to volunteer to put yourself through this physically debilitating and psychologically horrifying torture technique is the height of manliness. A total alpha move. And the fact that you’re going to do it for the troops is just patriotic icing on the testosterone cupcake.