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Gun And Anti-Vax Extremists Fuel Shutdown Protests

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Investigative reporting has illuminated connections between pro-gun activists and the fringe protests demanding that various states prematurely end stay-at-home orders and allow nonessential businesses to reopen. Local gun activists in Wisconsin and Virginia, some well-known national gun rights extremists, and pro-gun message boards are cheering on the protests too.

The nationwide anti-quarantine protests started with what was dubbed "Operation Gridlock" on April 15 in Lansing, Michigan, one of states that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of cars drove up to the capitol to demonstrate against the state's stay-at-home order, and protesters led chants to "recall" Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who had recently extended the order and added more restrictions. Similar protests quickly cropped up across the country and featured signs that expressed anti-government sentiments -- resisting vaccines, comparing the stay-at-home orders to tyranny, and emphasizing freedom over safety.

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Lawsuit Highlights Feuding Inside Gun Lobby Over NRATV

Reprinted with permission from 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 to records underlying its bills” but that as of halfway through 2018, some such requests 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 that Brewer Law, the 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 image 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 gun lobby’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.”

Sunday Talkshows Ignore Devastating New Hurricane Maria Reports

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

Following a new study estimating that almost 5,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, Sunday news shows completely ignored the devastation and death toll that is 72 times higher than the government’s official number of 64.

Written up by the Washington Post, a May 29 Harvard University study “estimates that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to the hurricane and its immediate aftermath,” and noted that “health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impact.”

If the Harvard study is accurate, Maria will be the second deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. Thousands are still waiting for power. It is already estimated to and have caused $90 billion in damages in Puerto Rico alone. The devastation in the U.S. Virgin Islands from Hurricanes Irma and Maria has caused billions more in damage. And 2018 Hurricane season is officially underway as of June 1.

Despite this less than a week old study, the major Sunday political talk shows — which include CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday — were all silent on the subject.

MSNBC’s AM Joy and CNN’s Reliable Sources both noted the discrepancy between coverage of Hurricane Maria’s devastation, and Roseanne Barr’s racist and anti-Semitic tweets that resulted in her eponymous show being canceled.

CNN’s New Day Sunday highlighted the Harvard study’s reported death toll and noted Puerto Rico is “still recovering” and that “11,000 residents still do not have power” as the country enters the official 2018 hurricane season.

The media has routinely ignored the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, dating back to just one week after the storm made landfall when these Sunday shows covered the devastation for less than a minute. Cable news quickly turned away from Puerto Rico following the hurricane as well. The day the Harvard study was released, cable news gave it 30 minutes of coverage that was drowned out by ten hours spent on Roseanne.

NRA Quietly Moves To Help Roy Moore Win The Alabama Senate Election

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

The National Rifle Association has discreetly spent almost $55,000 against Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate special election, effectively supporting reported child molester and Republican candidate Roy Moore.

Public Integrity’s Ashley Balcerzak reported that the NRA spent a total of $54,772.03 in December 2017 on postcards opposing Jones, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But there’s no mention of the NRA being involved in the race on its Political Victory Fund and Institute for Legislative Action websites, the two groups the NRA uses for election spending. According to the Political Victory Fund, the NRA is currently endorsing two candidates: a Republican in an Oklahoma State Legislature special election, and a Republican in the Tennessee General Assembly special election.

The website claims there are “no current elections” the NRA is involved with in Alabama.

Searching for both “Doug Jones” or “Roy Moore” on the Political Victory Fund’s media center page yields “no results.” The only recent mention of “Alabama” was in September 2017, plugging for NRA-endorsed Luther Strange in the special primary election. Running the same search terms on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website similarly yielded no results pertaining to the Alabama Senate election.

Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple underaged girls, as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion.



Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Here Is The NRA’s Latest Attack Against The First Amendment

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

The National Rifle Association’s broadcast platform NRATV has launched its latest attack against freedom of the press, this time targeting The Washington Post, calling the newspaper a “fake news outlet” and claiming it is where “journalism dies.”

On July 11, the Post published an article calling an NRATV video about political unrest in the U.S. “dark.” The article noted that the video condemned “Democratic politicians, the media and activists as the catalysts for political upheaval” in this country, “with one glaring omission: firearms.” According to the article, the video focused on “political discussions” around public safety during civil unrest, “with less clear connections to Second Amendment rights.”

On July 17, NRATV released a response video featuring NRATV host Grant Stinchfield, who called out the Post reporter by name and slammed him for “tell[ing] us we can’t have an opinion unless it’s about guns.”

The video also accused the Post of “spreading lies about those who disagree with their radical agenda” and said the newspaper is pushing “organized anarchy” that is “destroying our country.” Stinchfield went on to claim, “You people do more to damage our country with a keyboard than every NRA member combined has ever done with a firearm.”

Less than one day after the video’s release, The New York Times’ Max Fisher tweeted that the video is “edging right up to the line of endorsing violence against journalists,” while HuffPost called it “disturbing.”

Despite the mounting criticism, Stinchfield doubled down on his video during the noon edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield on July 18, claiming the newspaper uses its “keyboards as weapons of destruction”:

 

GRANT STINCHFIELD: The Washington Post is out of line. They claim to uphold the standards of journalism when, in fact, they use their keyboards as weapons of destruction as they try to tear apart the Trump administration in an effort not just to destroy him, but to destroy America, and it is wrong.

This video is just the latest in a growing number of attacks the NRA has launched against both the press and freedom of the press since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president and was ultimately elected. During an October 26, 2016, broadcast, Stinchfield characterized dissent against Trump as an “assault against … the Constitution.” A month later, during a November 29 broadcast, Stinchfield called “mainstream” media “dishonest and downright dirty,” suggesting that it is “anti-patriotic” to report critically on Trump and his transition team, and said that the media instead “needs to get on board.”

After The New York Times ran an advertisement during this year’s Oscar awards about the importance of journalism, the NRA fired back with its own 75-second ad claiming Americans have “stopped looking to The New York Times for the truth.” And in April, the NRA announced a “series of messages” against the newspaper, which the organization claims has “gone on the offensive to take away your liberties.”

Header image source.