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  • NRATV host Dan Bongino used doctored Infowars video of Jim Acosta in White House press briefing

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    One day after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a deceptively edited video of an exchange between CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and President Donald Trump, NRATV host Dan Bongino highlighted that same misleading video to attack Acosta.

    Acosta’s White House press pass was revoked following a contentious exchange during a November 7 briefing, when a White House intern attempted to take the microphone from Acosta while he was asking the president a question. During the interaction, “Acosta’s hand appeared to briefly brush” the intern’s arm, but Sanders later accused the reporter of “placing his hands on a young woman.” To bolster her accusation, Sanders then shared a deceptively edited video that originated from Paul Joseph Watson, editor at large of conspiracy theory website Infowars.com. The Washington Post noted that the video “appeared to have been altered to make [Acosta’s] actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.” 

    Bongino used that same deceptively edited footage for his coverage of the event on the November 8 edition of NRATV’s We Stand, despite multiple reports debunking the edited footage:

    DAN BONGINO (HOST): Acosta is claiming right now that he didn’t put his hands on this woman. This is a White House intern who has to move the mic -- folks, I worked in the White House for a long time, this is how this works. They walk the mic around. Jim Acosta -- now I don’t wanna overdramatize this, Denise was right before the show -- he didn’t attack her, it’s not a karate chop, he wasn’t trying to -- I sincerely doubt he was trying to hurt the woman, I would not even venture to go that far. But can we all acknowledge this is grossly inappropriate behavior? This is the president of the United States, he answered your question, move on. You don't put your mitts on the woman. It’s disgusting, you know I was very upset about this on Twitter yesterday. Have some dignity, Jim. Apologize and move on. This is the president of the United States, this young lady didn’t ask for this. She works for a living too, you know. Give up the microphone. Pathetic.    

    While admitting that Acosta didn’t “karate chop” the intern and wasn’t “trying to hurt” her, Bongino played the edited clip during the segment while calling Acosta “pathetic” and alleging that the CNN journalist put his “mitts on the woman.”

    Bongino is no stranger to Infowars, having appeared on the network multiple times from 2013 until 2016 with host Alex Jones, who was the chief architect of the conspiracty theory that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax 

  • “Guns Down at the Polls” to provide resource to report firearm-related intimidation at polling sites on Election Day

    Voters can text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990 to report instances of voter intimidation

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A group called Guns Down America is providing a voter resource that will allow people to report voter intimidation, including intimidation carried out with firearms, occurring at polling sites on Election Day.

    The project comes after a wave of attempted bombings of prominent liberals, including former President Barack Obama, and a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections. The project’s partners include Media Matters, the Center for American Progress, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, among others. It was first launched in 2016 following reports that several far-right and white supremacist groups were encouraging their followers to bring guns to polling locations.

    Voters who observe intimidation at polling sites are encouraged to text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990. The reports will then be forwarded to the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, which can take further action.

    As the project’s website explains, “It’s critical that we make sure all voters can access the polling places without the threat of intimidation. Voter intimidation is any concerted effort to coerce the voting behavior of a group of voters and it’s a federal crime. Intimidating someone with a firearm at a polling place is a federal crime.”

    Although it may come as a surprise, there is no federal law prohibiting the presence of firearms at polling sites. Instead, regulation is left to the states, and many do allow guns to be carried.

    There has already been a firearm-related intimidation incident at a polling site in Georgia this election season. WBTV reported that a man was arrested in Charlotte after he threatened a GOP campaign worker at an early voting location:

    Officials say when officers arrived on the scene, a black man said he was working at the voting location when he saw the armed man in the parking lot with a camera taking pictures or recording the polling location.

    Police say the armed man approached the campaign worker - a retired detective - and began hurling racial slurs, according to a report from CMPD.

    The report stated the campaign worker said the armed man threatened to assault him before lifting his shirt and displaying a handgun which was in a holster on his belt.

    Police reportedly found a BB gun when the suspect was arrested. An image taken during the incident shows that the assailant was wearing a “Punisher” T-shirt, referring to a comic book series that has been co-opted by the alt right:

    Disturbingly, National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch recently suggested that NRA supporters may need to bring guns to polling locations in order to fend off attacks from “anti-gun progressives.” During the October 23 broadcast of her NRATV show Relentless, Loesch attacked the Guns Down at the Polls project and falsely claimed that its goal is “intimidating law-abiding gun owners legally carrying their firearms by potentially sending the police after people who are doing nothing more than exercising their constitutionally protected rights.” Loesch then called the project “a moderate, soft form of swatting,” a reference to an intimidation tactic involving false 911 calls.

    Loesch went on to say, “If God forbid some unhinged maniac with an illegally possessed firearm were to show up at a polling location, something tells me a lot of people would be grateful that one of those law-abiding gun owners was there.”

    Leading up to the election, a major conservative messaging effort has argued -- without evidence -- that mobs of Democrats are planning to kill conservatives. The NRA has also been involved in this effort, with its media operation NRATV misrepresenting peaceful protests against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as violent.

    Permissive laws that allow firearms -- often including assault weapons -- to be openly carried in public have emboldened the far right to bring firearms to events where people are exercising their First Amendment rights. There were multiple instances of counterprotesters bringing firearms to the nationwide March for Our Lives gun safety rallies early in 2018. After a May school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, an armed man showed up outside the school to protest gun rights. And in October, the Portland Police Bureau acknowledged that, as The Portland Mercury reported, “Members of Patriot Prayer, a group of right-wing provocateurs from Vancouver, brought a cache of loaded firearms to the top of a parking garage in downtown Portland prior to the group's August 4th protest.”

    Guns Down at the Polls aims to counter people who think they can intimidate others and stop them from exercising their voting rights.

  • NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “Most Jews fully realize the importance of firearms considering their past”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Grant Stinchfield, a host for the National Rifle Association’s NRATV, claimed that “most Jews fully realize the importance of firearms, considering their past and what is going on in their homeland of Israel,” while arguing that the NRA is not anti-Semitic.

    The comment came during the October 30 broadcast of NRATV’s current events show Stinchfield. The segment was responding to a HuffPost article explaining that the NRA has singled out billionaires George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg -- all of whom are Jewish -- as left-wing boogeymen on the issue of gun regulation. The article also drew attention to a weeklong 2016 anti-Semitic rant by high-profile NRA board member Ted Nugent, who claimed gun regulation efforts are a Jewish plot and that Jews who support gun safety laws are “Nazis in disguise.” The NRA declined to condemn Nugent’s claims.

    Stinchfield’s comment also came in the aftermath of a massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, that left 11 people dead and six others injured. The gunman who carried out that shooting had promoted the conspiracy theory that Jews are behind a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America toward the U.S. southern border. NRATV had repeatedly pushed a remarkably similar conspiracy theory that Soros is behind the caravan in the weeks before the attack. Both the gunman and NRATV broadcasts also both frequently termed the caravan an “invasion.”

    The NRA frequently presents an ahistorical version of history to promote gun ownership or oppose new gun safety laws, often using the Holocaust as a reference point. Then-Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman explained in 2013 why these claims are wrong after an NRA board member attacked a New Jersey mayor for supporting a gun safety survey despite having grandparents who survived the Holocaust. In a statement on behalf of the ADL, Foxman, a Holocaust survivor himself, wrote that "there is absolutely no comparison of the issue of gun control in the U.S. to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime" and added that the claim "trivializes the historical truth of the Holocaust."

  • NRATV attempts to blame the media after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting despite pushing similar conspiracy theories as the gunman

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, host of the National Rifle Association's media outlet, NRATV, said he felt “disgust” for the “devious media and the liberals they serve,” who he said blame the shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania on “everything but themselves and ... the shooter.” Stinchfield conveniently ignored the fact that NRATV relentlessly pushed conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan that were similar to those the gunman embraced.

    On October 27, a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault weapon and three handguns opened fire in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, killing 11 people and wounding six others, making this the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. The gunman frequently posted on the far-right social media network Gab, where he repeatedly threatened the Jewish community and spread conservative conspiracy theories about a migrant caravan of refugees headed for the U.S. Specifically, the gunman pushed the conspiracy theory that Jews are behind the caravan.

    While not mentioning any of the gunman’s right-wing conspiracy theories, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield accused the media of trying to play the “blame game” and said that “devious media and the liberals they serve want to blame everyone and everything but themselves” for the shooting. He went on to claim President Donald Trump and NRATV “have never issued calls for violence” and said, “It’s Democratic leaders who make room for antifa to riot and call on Trump haters to harass his supporters.” During his comments on the October 29 edition of Stinchfield, he also called the victims of the attack “pawns now in the game to destroy our president and his party just days before the midterms”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): When I look at the face of the devil, in a man that decided to take 11 lives simply because of their faith, I get angry. So many emotions rush through my mind -- grief for the victims, sadness for their families and a world where far too many killers among us. But I also feel disgust. Disgust for the media and the political propaganda they spread just moments after a deadly, heinous crime. It’s not just the calls for gun control and so-called assault weapons bans, but it’s the blame game that makes me angry. The devious media and the liberals they serve want to blame everyone and everything but themselves and of course the shooter, who is ultimately responsible. This time the blame reached an all-time low. Over and over again, the media from the anti-Trumpers on Meet the Press to everyone on CNN and beyond pushed this bogus, insane idea that somehow President Trump is responsible for a deranged lunatic going on a killing spree inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

    STINCHFIELD: It is absolutely shameful. Shameful. 11 people dead, injured law enforcement, all pawns now in the game to destroy our president and his party just days before the midterms. President Trump has never issued a call for violence and they know it. We as conservatives, we at NRATV have never issued calls for violence either. Yet they have the gall to blame President Trump for this shooting when it’s Democratic leaders who make room for antifa to riot and call on Trump haters to harass his supporters.

    In actuality, NRATV hosts themselves have repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan; NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton claimed during an October 19 NRATV broadcast that “a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with a Hungarian-born billionaire [George Soros] and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north” in a caravan. Soros is a prominent Jewish philanthropist who frequently makes donations to liberal and progressive causes.

    During another recent NRATV appearance, Holton falsely claimed that Soros was funding the caravan and said that he is “an expert at sowing chaos and discord around the world.” Holton went on to say that Soros’ views are “at odds with civilization as a whole” and said, “The guy really makes a kind of perfect Bond villian, don’t you think? This socialist anti-gun, anti-American agenda is nothing short of apocalyptic.”

    During yet another segment Holton hosted, NRATV showed a picture of Soros above a chyron that said, “Immigrant Caravan: Who’s Paying The Bill?”

    Both Holton and Stinchfield have referred to the caravan as an “invasion,” which is also how the gunman characterized it.

  • NRATV ignored the Kroger shooting in Kentucky after backing the store’s open-carry policy

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet, completely ignored news of an apparently racially motivated shooting at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky that debunked the already discredited “good guy with a gun” myth and left two dead.

    On October 24, 51-year-old Gregory Bush attempted to enter a predominantly Black church in Jeffersontown, KY, before heading to a Kroger grocery store where he shot two Black victims, the first in the store and the second in the parking lot. An armed bystander fired at Bush after he shot his second victim but missed him. Another witness said Bush told him he spared the witness’s life because “Whites don’t shoot whites.” The incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime. 

    The attempted action by an armed bystander further discredits the “good guy with a gun” myth,” a favorite of the NRA’s that has been debunked by both researchers and law enforcement. The “good guy” almost never stops an active shooter situation and actually can create further confusion for police officers arriving on scene.

    On October 25 and 26, none of NRATV’s supposed news shows covered the shooting or developments in the days that followed, instead choosing to spread conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan making its way toward the United States, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the recent pipe bomb spree, and promote athletic clothes with a holster in them.

    The shooting followed a 2014 campaign by the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, encouraging Kroger to “prohibit the open carry of guns in its stores.” NRATV aired multiple segments pushing back against the effort and claiming the campaign was “not about actually reducing violence; it’s about winning that press release victory.”

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch mentioned the shooting during the October 29 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, noting it “raised a lot of questions as to whether or not this killer’s motivations were racial.” A chyron on Loesch’s show also falsely hailed it as an example of a shooting “stopped by good guy with a gun.” While the gunman did exchange fire in the Kroger parking lot with a person with a concealed carry permit, no one was hit in the exchange. According to another witness, who was also armed, the gunman “nonchalantly” left the scene after reportedly telling the witness, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites,” a fact Loesch herself noted during the segment.

  • NRATV correspondent downplays attempted bombing of George Soros’ New York home

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the National Rifle Association’s NRATV, dismissed an incident in which a bomb was left in financier and philanthropist George Soros’ mailbox by suggesting he doesn’t check his own mail anyway.

    According to police, on October 22, a caretaker of Soros’ residence opened the package and found the device, which did not explode; police later “proactively detonated” it. The case has been turned over to the FBI. Soros was not home at the time of the incident.

    Soros has made numerous donations to liberal and progressive causes, including a 2010 donation to Media Matters. The attempted bombing occurred during a time when Soros has been increasingly targeted by anti-Semitic smears and other attacks, including the evidence-free claim that he is funding a caravan of migrants from Central America.

    Holton downplayed the seriousness of the incident when he retweeted a Voice of Europe article about it and wrote, “I seriously doubt George Soros checks his own mail”:

    Holton has a history of launching unhinged attacks against Soros, including pushing the falsehood that the philanthropist was paying the “fines” of protesters arrested at the Supreme Court during the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling Soros the “AntiChrist,” and saying he’s “depraved” and will “spend eternity in darkness.”

    His tweet downplaying the attempted bombing comes after Holton spread conspiracy theories about Soros in several NRATV appearances, including claiming “a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with [Soros] and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north” in a caravan.