Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple is raising questions about the Washington Times' relationship with the National Rifle Association after the paper ran a "Special Report" sponsored by the gun group featuring several articles from the Times' news coverage.
Wemple highlighted an August 27 "special pullout section" in the Times that was clearly "sponsored by the NRA" and featured disclaimers on each page explaining the pullout was "A Special Report Prepared by The Washington Times Advertising Department." Instead of being filled only with advertisements, the section featured past gun-related news stories from Times reporters Kelly Riddell, David Sherfinski, and Jessica Chasmar, which Wemple cites as evidence that the paper's news coverage "pleases the mighty gun lobby."
But when Wemple asked Times editor John Solomon whether the presence of news stories in "a special advertising section cross[es] some sacred journalistic trench," Solomon defended the paper by arguing that the articles had all "already been written."
Solomon also defended the paper from Wemple's suggestion that there might be a "risk" in the Times' behavior, since reporters may "be inclined to tilt their stories" to appease pro-gun advertisers:
Though Solomon says the stories piled up in the Washington Times archive in the course of normal journalistic business, isn't there a risk here? Once reporters see how the paper monetizes their work via pro-gun advertisers, won't they be inclined to tilt their stories in that direction? No again, says Solomon: "Writers never know, and it's no different thantomorrow waking up and seeing a Boeing ad in The Washington Post and having a defense story in the newspaper."
The Washington Times has long had a cozy relationship with the NRA. David Keene, who edits the paper's aggressively pro-NRA opinion page, is a former NRA president. In a move that sparked concern from journalism experts, Keene has continued to operate as a spokesman for the gun group and sit on its board while also serving as the Times opinion editor. Solomon told Media Matters this year that Keene's dual role avoids conflict since he "recuses himself from editing any pieces in his department that are focused on the NRA."
The Times has previously partnered with anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage for a June 2014 event. The paper's "Advocacy Department" put together a "Special Report" supplement for the event with articles from its news and opinion sections. The Times has long been a platform for virulent homophobia.
While the National Rifle Association has been conspicuously silent on a gun accident at an Arizona shooting range that left an instructor dead, the NRA's media arm -- NRA News -- criticized the "great deal of exploitative coverage" and dismissed those who believe a "larger lesson" can be drawn from the tragedy.
On August 25 a 9-year-old girl firing a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun at an Arizona gun range lost control of the weapon, leading to the fatal shooting of a range instructor. The accident quickly became national news and touched off debate over the appropriateness of letting children handle automatic weapons. The latest developments indicate that the child complained about the Uzi's recoil and indicated the weapon was "too much" for her moments after the fatal accident.
On the August 29 edition of the NRA News show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards acknowledged that "as a media person" he understands why the accident has garnered so much attention, but also claimed "anti-gun advocates in the media" were using the story to try to prevent children from learning about firearms.
The NRA does not like it when high-profile incidents of gun violence make national headlines. The group recently warned supporters of the media "trick" of using the word "shooting" to describe mass shooting incidents, following a mass killing in Isla Vista, California. After a 2013 incident where a 2-year-old girl was accidentally killed by her 5-year-old brother with a child-sized rifle made national headlines, Edwards criticized the "mass media," claiming they were covering the story as part of a "campaign of shame" and "wanted to make a point that this is what happens in Bumpkinville."
The hosts of Fox & Friends roundly endorsed a Texas school district that allows teachers to carry guns, even though security experts reject the idea of armed teachers and civilians with concealed guns have not stopped past mass shooting incidents.
During segments on August 27 and September 2, Fox & Friends hyped plans by the Argyle Independent School District (ISD) to arm teachers this school year. Media reporting on the school district's plans have focused on a sign outside of an Argyle school that reads, "ATTENTION: Please Be Aware That The Staff At Argyle ISD Are Armed And May Use Whatever Force Is Necessary To Protect Our Students."
Co-host Brian Kilmeade told viewers, "Don't mess with this school in Texas, they're armed, they're ready, and letting everyone know about it," while co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck described the sign as a "great warning there that is meant to protect the kids." While advancing the common but false right-wing media claim that mass shooters target places where guns are not allowed, Kilmeade later added, "If you want to drop your kid off and know that they are going to be protected, you know at least in that school they are going to be protected."
Fox & Friends proceeded to host Greg Coker, who provides weapons training for schools, to tout armed teachers. What Fox neglected to include in the segment, however, is that Coker actually has a business relationship with Argyle ISD and was responsible for arming their teachers through his "Not On My Watch" program.
According to a document posted on the Argyle ISD website, Coker charges $1,500 per teacher for a 30-hour training course that involves firing 900 rounds of ammunition. (The National Rifle Association, which endorsed armed teachers following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, recommends that teachers receive between 60 and 80 hours of training before carrying a gun in school.)
Routine sexist attacks from the National Rifle Association's media outlets are undermining the organization's political effort to reach out to women as a growing demographic.
On August 25, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom attacked prominent gun safety advocate and Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts. As Gawker's Adam Weinstein explained, the article featured images of Watts "as a cutout mom with kitchen and housekeeping accoutrements, because moms oughta know their place!" The accompanying article accused Watts of lying about being a stay-at-home mom, because she had for a time run a PR firm out of her house while raising her children.
This offensive depiction of a woman from NRA media seems in stark contrast to the political arm of the NRA, which the very same day debuted several new ads narrated by women -- in a series titled "Good Guys" -- promoting the message that guns are a sign of empowerment for women and that women are an important part of the NRA community. One features a woman lauding the importance of "Mom and Dad"; one stars a woman emphasizing the "courage" it takes to be one of the "Good Guys." Another ad released earlier this month also featured a female narrator driving a pickup truck and attacking Everytown for Gun Safety founder Michael Bloomberg, telling him to "keep your hands off our guns."
Right-wing female commentators have long argued that "guns are the great equalizer between sexes in crimes against women," falsely claiming that guns make women safer. CNN's S.E. Cupp, The Blaze's Dana Loesch, and Fox News' Katie Pavlich have regularly appeared on cable news and published books to promote the NRA as a pro-women organization.
But as Media Matters noted in a feature on the NRA's annual meeting, 2014 seemed to mark a shift for the organization towards focusing increasingly on women and moms. In part that shift is monetary, as advertisers see women as a largely untapped market. It also seems, however, that the shift is in part in response to gun safety organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, who increasingly emphasize how dangerous guns can be for women in abusive situations.
This recent recognition of women by the NRA is undermined, however, by the attack on Watts and the numerous misogynistic and sexist comments from NRA commentators and spokespeople.
Cam Edwards, host of the National Rifle Association's news show, claimed that after Hurricane Katrina residents of the New Orleans neighborhood Algiers "were looking out for each other by walking the streets armed with firearms." But according to a federal hate crimes indictment and numerous media reports, after Katrina white gun-toting vigilantes in Algiers targeted African-Americans with racially motivated violence.
Edwards made the comments about Algiers during "The Armed Citizen Files," a daily segment on his news show Cam & Company that uses anecdotal accounts of self-defense with a gun to create the false impression that guns are used more often to prevent rather than commit crimes. The Katrina comparison came during a discussion of a recent self-defense shooting in Algiers. Edwards praised locals' "attitude of being able to protect yourself and the ones you love," and claimed that individuals used firearms after Katrina to make sure "there was no looting, no robbing, no burglaries."
According to an expose published in The Nation, after Katrina some residents of the largely undamaged Algiers Point -- an affluent "white enclave" in the "predominately black" Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans -- shot African-Americans who passed through the neighborhood while fleeing the historic storm's destruction:
Media outlets are uncritically reporting the false claim in a new attack ad from the National Rifle Association that gun safety advocate Michael Bloomberg wants to "ban ... your guns." In fact, Bloomberg supports the right to own a gun.
The NRA is launching an ad campaign against Bloomberg due to the former New York City mayor's position as a chairman of gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety and his pledge to spend $50 million this election cycle in support of gun safety measures.
Although he is not a candidate for office in 2014, the NRA plans to run an ad in Senate battleground states attacking Bloomberg over his support for gun safety proposals.
In the ad a narrator states, "Bloomberg tries to ban your snack food, your sodas and most of all, your guns." But neither Bloomberg nor Everytown for Gun Safety are proponents of general gun bans, a fact that some media outlets covering the NRA ad are leaving out of their reports.
Rapid City Journal columnist Frank Carroll, a member of the National Rifle Association, is calling for NRA board member Ted Nugent and "anyone else who either backs him or avoids their responsibility to confront him" to be removed from the NRA's leadership.
Nugent caused widespread controversy this year over his characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." Citing that comment and Nugent's lengthy history of racially inflammatory commentary, several concert organizers have canceled Nugent appearances while other concerts have been protested.
In an August 12 column, Carroll called the NRA "an organization I belong to and agree with on many issues," while bemoaning that Nugent is a representative of the gun group. He added, "No wonder conservatives are struggling to lead in this country. At the very time we need authentic, humane, passionate conservatives and patriots the most, the best we can come up with are people like Nugent? Get real, NRA. Nugent has to go."
From the August 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the August 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News host and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson claimed that the government "wants to know" if people have firearms in their houses "because they'd like to disarm you," echoing a common conspiracy theory from gun lobby extremists.
On the August 10 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Heather Nauert reported on a mother's effort to lobby the New York state legislature to pass a bill requiring the safe storage of guns in homes, after her son was killed in an accidental shooting at a friend's house. Nauert asked viewers, "when your child goes to another family's house, do you ever think to ask if they have a gun?"
After the report, Carlson said he would be "offended" if a parent asked him about firearms in his home. "If somebody asked me -- the idea that 93 percent of people don't mind if you ask them if they have a firearm at home -- I find that a very private question," said Carlson. "It's something that government wants to know because they'd like to disarm you. But I -- it's something that I'm not comfortable talking about with other people, and I would be offended by that question."
The National Rifle Association frequently -- and falsely -- claims that the government is collecting information about privately-owned firearms in order to confiscate them at a later time. A recent commentary video from the gun group baselessly claimed that "the government is collecting more and more gun registration data which could be used against gun owners in the form of full confiscation," and the NRA's president Jim Porter has claimed that the Obama administration is using Medicare enrollment forms to create a national gun registry even though no questions about guns appear on the form.
Carlson also criticized Nauert's report for suggesting that "guns are scary, gun owners are a threat to you and your children." He said that "far more children died last year drowning in their bathtubs than were killed accidentally by guns" and stated that he "would like to see a package on, do you have a bathtub at home? Because I need to know that before I send my child over to your house."
Carlson also claimed that "the places with the highest levels of gun ownership" are "the safest places," citing Maine, Wyoming, and Vermont as states where "you're not going to get hurt." In fact, as the Huffington Post noted, a Violence Policy Center study that reviewed 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that "States with weak gun-control laws and higher rates of gun ownership tend to have higher rates of gun deaths, while states with stronger policies and fewer gun owners have significantly lower rates of gun-related deaths." Wyoming had the fourth highest rate of gun deaths in the study.
From Fox & Friends Sunday:
(h/t Raw Story)
After the Toledo Blade received months of criticism for reluctantly hosting National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent at their food and music festival, the conservative commentator repaid the Ohio paper by declaring that "So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
Nugent has been a source of virulently racist, sexist, and homophobic commentary for years, but his January declaration that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" has triggered a wave of cancellations and protests of his concerts.
On August 8, Nugent performed at the 31st Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-off, a three-day festival featuring concerts and barbeque sponsored by the Blade. Nugent's appearance had been a source of controversy since it was announced in April, with the event's director telling Media Matters that he had received numerous calls from readers objecting to the performance. And after violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence created a petition urging the paper to cancel the concert, the chairman of The Blade's parent company apologized for the invitation and wrote that while the concert would go on, he would "not support inviting him again."
According to an August 9 Blade article, Nugent "and about a dozen people protesting his appearance overshadowed" the festival, with the sign-toting protestors receiving "support from numerous honking motorists who drove by and a few who flashed a thumbs-up sign." During the festival, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence founder Toby Hoover delivered more than 6,200 petition signatures collected by CSGV to the Blade's sales director, according to the group.
Nugent responded by lashing out at the protestors, President Obama, and the Blade from stage:
From the stage, Nugent blasted the protesters, calling them the "Barack Obama fan club."
"How much crazier can you get than having a President of the United States who hates the United States?" he asked.
Neither Nugent nor the protesters were happy with the newspaper.
"The Toledo Blade hates you," Nugent told the crowd. "They hate your guts ...; They hate me. They hate freedom. So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
At least four Nugent concerts have been cancelled this year in response to Nugent's commentary, and several more have been subject to demonstrations. American Indian groups in particular have been protesting Nugent over his past racial comments, with tribes cancelling planned casino concerts and the president of the American Indian Movement Grassroots reportedly stating that the group "will always" protest the concerts.
Music industry experts say that Nugent's rhetoric has hurt his image to the point where he could seriously damage his music career.
Mike Mori, director of sales for The Blade and a coordinator of the event, reportedly confronted Nugent over his comments attacking the paper:
Mr. Mori, who is director of sales for The Blade, said he told Nugent, whose right-wing views prompted an outpouring of opposition before the Friday night show, that he was disappointed in his statements to the crowd, and told him The Blade sponsored the event and paid his fee.
"We were served a petition by an anti-gun coalition to not have him play shortly before he went on, and then they put the picture of them giving it to me on the Internet," Mr. Mori said. "His wife saw it, he thought that The Blade instigated the petition.
"I met with him after the show. I had a spirited conversation with him. I was very disappointed in him. I think he was a little bit embarrassed. He said he would like the chance to write a letter to explain his side of it," Mr. Mori said.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent hyped his August 8 appearance at The Toledo Blade's food and music festival by attacking the "stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors" that attended a rally organized by an American Indian group at his August 6 concert.
Nugent's summer tour schedule has been filled with controversy, protests, and cancellations. At least four concerts have been cancelled because of Nugent's history of racially inflammatory commentary, while activists -- representing both American Indian and progressive groups -- have staged protests at other concerts. American Indian groups became involved in protesting Nugent after two American Indian tribes cancelled Nugent concerts scheduled at their casinos after learning of Nugent's past comments and appropriation of American Indian headdresses during concerts.
In April, The Toledo Blade announced that Nugent would perform at the paper's four-day "Rib-Off" food and music festival in August. At the time, employees of The Blade told Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp that the paper was receiving "quite a few" calls from angry readers and that the paper would "think long and hard about inviting him next year." Controversy over The Blade's invitation to Nugent spurred gun violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to launch a petition calling for the concert's cancellation. On July 27, The Blade's owner sent a letter to the editor where he declined to cancel Nugent's appearance but apologized for the invitation and wrote he would "not support inviting him again."
On August 7, Nugent took to his Facebook page to hype his "Rib-Off" appearance, but also to argue that American Indians upset about land being taken from them by white settlers need to learn about the American Dream.
Forbes columnist Frank Miniter's forthcoming book The Future of the Gun will present a revisionist history of the National Rifle Association's extremism during the legislative battle over guns following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
According to Regnery, the conservative publisher of Miniter's book, The Future of the Gun, will show how "the radical anti-gun lobby stands between innovation and the American people. Bestselling author Frank Miniter describes amazing breakthroughs waiting to happen in gun technology -- and how gun grabbers threaten to stop progress in its tracks."
A recent excerpt from the book that circulated in conservative media purports to provide one example of alleged obstinacy on the part of gun safety supporters by highlighting how the Obama administration allegedly rejected the NRA's overtures to work together to crack down on illegal guns. But Miniter is misrepresenting the post-Newtown meeting between the administration and the gun lobby.
Conservative media touting Miniter's version of events have also failed to disclose he is employed by the NRA, and that the NRA's proposal to crack down on illegal guns was a "law cleverly written to accomplish practically nothing," according to one centrist think tank.
During an appearance at a Tea Party event in Wyoming, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent used the derogatory term "Japs" while discussing how he believes America has changed since World War II.
Nugent, who is also a spokesman for Outdoor Channel, appeared alongside birther and former Fox News contributor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Paul Vallely at an August 2 rally hosted by the Big Horn Basin Tea Party. At the end of the event, Nugent and Vallely were deputized by the local sheriff.
During his remarks Nugent described his belief that the government has "turned on us" since the United States defeated the "Japs and Nazis" in World War II, citing his claim of "ranchers being arrested because of gerbils on their range." The term "Jap" is universally recognized as a racial slur since its derogatory usage during World War II.
NUGENT: I know I'm speaking your language. I know nothing I've said surprises you except maybe the insane depth of this self-inflicted curse of apathy. We have bent over since World War II because we couldn't believe that good -- the universally celebrated good of America crushed the universally understood evil of Japs and Nazis. We couldn't believe that that government that represented us in good over evil could possibly turn on us. They've turned on us. They've literally turned on us, ranchers being arrested because of gerbils on their range or some families arrested because the EPA claims they are building a barn on a wetland where for 200 years of satellite documentation, no moisture.
The National Rifle Association's lifestyle magazine, NRA Sharp, is using Apple and other popular brands to promote firearms that are manufactured by NRA corporate donors.
NRA Sharp showcases high-end products (guns and otherwise), opulent lifestyles, and pop culture musings, all with a pro-gun bent. As Daily Beast columnist Cliff Schecter noted, "It's the lifestyle of the armed and delusional. At NRASharp.com, there's $250 Gucci suspenders, dandelion recipes, and readers' fantasies of shooting with E.T. 'and his badass guns.'"
An August 4 post on NRA Sharp matches firearms, including an assault weapon, to their "'mainstream' cultural equals," namely BMW, Nike, luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe, and Apple. As the post explains, "We believe these pairings boost both brands to their full potential."
NRA Sharp matches Blaser, a manufacturer of high-end hunting rifles, with German car company BMW, describing both products as "German-made monsters of design" that can be used "to experience the elemental thrill of shooting/driving." According to a report from gun violence prevention group Violence Policy Center, Blaser's U.S. subsidiary has donated between $250,000 and $499,000 to the NRA.