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  • NRATV Offers Up A False History To Whitewash Sen. Sessions' Prosecution Of Civil Rights Workers 

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s NRATV defended attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) against allegations of racial bias by offering a bogus history of a controversial criminal case Sessions prosecuted when he was a U.S. Attorney.

    The NRA has endorsed Sessions for attorney general. During the first day of Sessions’ hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, longstanding allegations of racial bias resurfaced during questioning. (In 1986, the Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench amid testimony that he directed racially derogatory language toward a subordinate and allegations that Sessions used his position as a prosecutor to unfairly target minorities.)

    During the January 10 broadcast of NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield defended Sessions by claiming that “when the left doesn’t agree with you, what they do is they throw out the race card and they accuse everybody of being a racist.”

    NRATV commentator and conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch agreed and said she is “pretty damn tired of these racial accusations.” She claimed that critics of Sessions are “mad because he busted one group in Alabama who was engaged in voter fraud.” But in fact, the group in question was not engaged in voter fraud. Instead, Loesch was mischaracterizing the 1985 voter fraud investigation in Alabama, led by Sessions after civil rights activist and Martin Luther King Jr. adviser Albert Turner tried to help African-Americans vote using protections secured by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The defendants were acquitted on all charges, and Sessions’ handling of the case was later cited as the primary reason the Senate considered him unfit to serve as a federal judge in 1986.

    Here is what actually happened: Turner and two other activists formed the Perry County Civic League, aimed at helping African-Americans in their county register to vote. Like other organizations at the time, the Perry County Civic League helped people register to vote absentee. (At the time, polls in Perry County were only open for four hours on Election Day.) After a number of black candidates won in the 1982 elections, Sessions, who was then a U.S. attorney, headed up an investigation for voter fraud that culminated in a 29-count indictment against Turner and two other civil rights workers alleging mail fraud, conspiracy to commit voting fraud and voting more than once.

    Sessions’ case was incredibly weak, giving rise to the accusation that he was motivated by racial animus. According to The New York Times, “During the trial, the prosecution adopted an exceptionally broad theory, arguing that it was a crime for a voter to sign a ballot that someone else filled out for him.” As a result, “The judge ruled that this theory was contrary to election law and the Constitution, and at the close of trial, threw out many of the counts against the Turners and Hogue. They were acquitted of the rest by the jury.”

    The NRA’s scrubbing of Sessions’ 1985 prosecution isn’t surprising, given that the organization has campaigned for his “swift” confirmation. NRATV previously grossly exaggerated the number of murders that occur in Chicago in arguing that Sessions should be confirmed as attorney general.

    From the January 10 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates with Grant Stinchfield:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Any surprises so far during the hearing?

    DANA LOESCH: No, Grant. I’m not surprised at all. This is what happens when a dying ideology and grievance-mongers lose the election. They have to whine like crybabies about it for weeks after. Al Sharpton has promised a season of civil disobedience. I would love to see Al Sharpton demonstrate just a week of common sense before he really attempts to go that far with it. Look, I am not shocked by any of this. Jeff Sessions is a threat to a politicized Department of Justice. The DOJ has been weaponized, and has been used to go after individuals. We all remember how the DOJ went after the press, how they went after -- I told you this yesterday, Associated Press reporters, a number of other individuals, how they allowed for voter fraud and inflated fraud to take place on voter rolls across the country. How they wouldn’t prosecute a lot of cases that really deserved the DOJ’s attention. Jeff Sessions is a threat to this. Also, Jeff Sessions upholds that recognition. He did it as AG of Alabama, he’ll do it as AG here of the United States of America, as [NRA top lobbyist] Chris Cox said. He’s going to uphold that recognition, the federal recognition that our right to bear arms doesn’t just stop at a state line and this is something that goes across all of the United States, which is why I’m happy to see national reciprocity. And I’m going to tell you too, Grant. I’m getting pretty damn tired of these racial accusations going up against Jeff Sessions because Democrats right now are repeating discredited arguments that have been discredited since 1986. When you have Thomas Figures, who was indicted on bribery -- he was one of two accusers who tried to make up some accusation that Jeff Sessions was a racist. The other was Gerald Herbert, who was publicly put down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals because he acted with impropriety. These are the two completely ineligible for consideration people that Democrats are relying on for the whole of their racial argument about Jeff Sessions. And I’ll end with this, Grant. A number of associates with Jeff Sessions, black and white, have defended his character, they’ve defended his integrity, they’ve defended his record, and that’s why they’re coming together. And that’s why, from some of these Democrat senators, you’re seeing such soft questioning, because they’ve been there shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions and they know he’s the DOJ America needs.

    STINCHFIELD: Well you and I both know, Dana, that when the left doesn’t agree with you, what they do is they throw out the race card and they accuse everybody of being a racist. What really gets me is they look at Jeff Sessions as such a threat simply for one reason: He has vowed to uphold the law on the books already. That’s it, it's that simple. It’s how you change America around, it's how you make America safe again.

    LOESCH: Well they’re mad because he busted one group in Alabama who was engaged in voter fraud. I don’t like how there are groups that exist and they try to hide behind the guise of calling themselves a civil rights group. ACORN did it. 

  • Alex Jones’ Infowars.com Attempts To Profit Off Fort Lauderdale Mass Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show used the January 6 mass shooting at an airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to urge viewers to buy body armor from Jones’ online store.

    On January 6, a gunman killed five people and wounded six others when he opened fire with a handgun in the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. The suspect, who was arrested at the scene, legally checked the firearm used for the shooting in his luggage on a flight from Anchorage, AK, to Fort Lauderdale.

    The day of the shooting, two guest hosts on The Alex Jones Show -- Infowars’ Owen Shroyer and David Knight -- used the violence to urge viewers to buy body armor.

    Citing the shooting and claiming “gun control areas are killing zones,” Knight said, “You need to make sure -- if they’re going to take your gun away, if they’re going to keep you defenseless -- you need to make sure that you can at least shield yourself. That’s why we’re selling tactical nanotechnology body armor that was previously available only to the military, only to law enforcement, is now available exclusively at InfowarsStore.com.”

    As he spoke, the screen showed body armor -- some of which costs more than $1,000 -- available for purchase at InfowarsStore.com.

    Apparently referencing the Fort Lauderdale shooting again, Knight then touted body armor inserts, saying, “You can get it in a vest form or you can buy something that you can stick into your backpack and turn your backpack into a shield, for you, for your children. So that when you’re in an airport where you're not allowed to carry a gun or you’re picking up your bags and you’ve got some idiot who decides he’s going to do this or you’re bunched up going through the TSA lines as they make you into a vulnerable target during their screening, you have something at least that will stop a bullet.”

    There is no evidence that gun-free zones pose a danger to the public or that civilians with concealed weapons are an effective deterrent to mass shootings. A strong majority of mass shootings actually occur where guns can be carried.

    Jones, a prominent conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed “founding father” of the 9/11 Truth movement, has used The Alex Jones Show to claim that several high-profile incidents of gun violence were false flags carried out by the government, including the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six educators dead.

    Jones was an important media ally of President-elect Donald Trump’s during the 2016 election. Trump appeared on Jones’ show in 2015 to praise Jones’ “amazing” reputation. Following Trump’s victory, Jones claimed that Trump told him he would appear on his show in the coming weeks, although the promised appearance has not materialized.  

  • NRATV Grossly Exaggerates Chicago Violence To Push For Jeff Sessions As Attorney General

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The host of the National Rifle Association’s NRATV made the false claim that someone is murdered every 11 minutes in Chicago in order to push for a “swift” confirmation of Trump attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

    If that statistic were true, Chicago would have almost 50,000 murders per year, a figure 62 times higher than the actual total number of murders in Chicago in 2016. The claim, which was made during a January 9 broadcast by host Grant Stinchfield, is an example of the NRA’s repeated attempts to claim that violence in Chicago is a result of the city’s strict gun laws.

    In fact, NRA claims about Chicago ignore cities with weaker gun laws and a far greater homicide rates per capita, such as St. Louis and New Orleans.

    Stinchfield used his false statistic to push for the “swift confirmation of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions,” and claimed “lives depend” on his appointment because Chicago politicians supposedly refuse “to enforce the laws already on the books.” In actuality, it is the NRA that has engaged in a decades-long campaign to hinder the efforts of the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm, the Department of Justice subsidiary responsible for enforcing federal gun laws.

    From the January 9 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates with Grant Stinchfield:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): It’s a new year in Chicago, and the violence continues. A person is shot every two minutes and murdered every 11. Yet the mayor thinks more jobs for the heartless killers is the way to solve the city’s crime woes. It is not. Pro-active policing and tough on crime judges could make an immediate impact. It’s why the NRA’s executive director for the Institute for Legislative Action is calling for the swift confirmation of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.

    [...]

    STINCHFIELD: His confirmation hearing starts tomorrow and they should get this done in swift order. I am telling you, lives depend on the appointment of Jeff Sessions. If Senator Chuck Schumer tries to hold this up, he will have blood on his hands because people are dying on the streets of Chicago, simply because leaders there do not want to enforce the laws already on the books.

  • Daily Beast Exposes Racist Alt-Right Conspiracy Theory About Fort Lauderdale Shooter

    Right-Wing Fringe Falsely Accused CNN Of Doctoring Photo Of Shooting Suspect To Make Him Look More White

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Daily Beast exposed how fake news purveyors pushed a race baiting alt-right conspiracy theory about accused Ft Lauderdale shooter, Esteban Santiago, which alleged that CNN doctored a photo of Santiago. In reality, CNN has not shown a picture of Santiago, and right-wing media outlets that ran with the racist conspiracy theory, namely Gateway Pundit, have had to repudiate their own false claims.

    Santiago is accused of opening fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport on January 6, killing five people and injuring multiple others. Santiago was apprehended at the scene and is currently being interviewed to determine the motive of the shooting.

    The Daily Beast detailed how “alt-right” fringe sites like InfoWars and Gateway Pundit falsely claimed CNN published a doctored photo of Santiago that made the person in the picture appear to be lighter in complexion “to make the suspect look more white.” The article noted that “in reality, CNN had yet to air a picture of Santiago, let alone lightened a picture of him.” Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft wrote up the story and linked to “alt-right Twitter accounts,” before being forced to admit the mistake and retracting the post:

    Far rightwing figureheads immediately invented an elaborate and racist conspiracy theory that CNN had lightened a photo of alleged Fort Lauderdale airport shooter Esteban Santiago shortly after the Friday attack.

    In reality, CNN had yet to air a picture of Santiago, let alone lightened a picture of him. The conspiracy also used a picture of an entirely different man named Esteban Santiago—not the alleged shooter.

    Still, writers at websites like InfoWars and Gateway Pundit tweeted about CNN’s nonexistent Photoshop job. Former Republican Florida Congressman Allen West, who represented Fort Lauderdale itself, even tweeted about the conspiracy and linked to an article about it on his own website.

    [...]

    Alt-right Twitter accounts appear to have helped create the confusion. After media personality Tariq Nasheed tweeted, “there are reports that the identity of one of the Ft. Lauderdale shooting suspects is a white Hispanic named Esteban Santiago,” verified alt-right Twitter user @BakedAlaska tweeted a screenshot of Nasheed’s tweet, along with a picture of the wrong Santiago.

    [...]

    Hoft’s story links to a tweet by the user @alphakangz, whose account has only existed since November.

    “UNDOCTORED PHOTO vs. photo @CNN USED PHOTO of Esteban Santiago, the alleged FLL airport shooter #FortLauderdale pray for the victims,” the account tweeted.

    Minutes later, a copy of the lightened photo of the 39-year-old Santiago, falsely claiming CNN attribution, appeared on Watson’s Twitter feed.

    Update 6:31 p.m.: Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft emailed The Daily Beast about an hour after this story's initial publication.

    "I pulled the post," he said.

    "UPDATE — THIS MAY BE A DIFFERENT ESTEBAN SANTIAGO," the story now reads.

    The Daily Beast reached out to both Watson for comment. His tweet is still visible on his account.

    The ecosystem of fake news and the alt-right, dubbed the ‘Misinformer of the Year,’ continues to evolve and expand. Media Matters has created a glossary to help understand what fake news is and the ecosystem underpinning the phenomenon. Episodes like Pizzagate show how social media platforms like Facebook help to empower total lies, and conservative media outlets like Gateway Pundit help to mainstream these lies.

  • New Host For “Unofficial Version Of Trump TV” Encouraged Date Rape And Punching Transgender People

    Former Infowars Reporter Joe Biggs Also Threatened To Release Revenge Porn And Commented Positively About Sexual Violence And Punching Women

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN), a pro-Trump “news” network that’s expanding operations, has hired a host who has tweeted his approval of date rape, sexual violence, and punching women and transgender people. He also threatened to release revenge porn of a “bitch” who allegedly cheated on him.

    Freelance reporter Joe Biggs announced in a January 3 Facebook post that he is going to “be filming a PRO 2nd Amendment show for Right Side Broadcasting! It will cover all things 2A. From CHL [concealed handgun licenses], safety, veterans issues and hunting. Hope you will all tune In and share the content. I'm very excited and have amazing guests lined up.” The network posted a link to Biggs’ Twitter account and wrote, “great new things to come in the future... Stay tuned!”

    The Washington Post wrote in October that Right Side Broadcasting “has been the unofficial version of Trump TV since last summer, streaming the Republican nominee's campaign events in all their unedited glory online.” The Post noted that the fledgling outlet had received a “boost of legitimacy … when the billionaire's campaign teamed up with Right Side to produce pre- and post-debate analysis shows that streamed on Trump's Facebook page.”

    Following Trump’s victory, RSBN announced it would be expanding operations by becoming “a 24-hour network very soon” and participating in White House press briefings.

    Biggs previously worked as a reporter for Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website Infowars.com. He has pushed numerous conspiracy theories, including about pizzagate, the false claim that Hillary Clinton’s campaign trafficked children through a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. During one Infowars video, Biggs claimed that Clinton has surrounded herself with “evil people” and suggested that hacked WikiLeaks emails revealed “an undercover pedophile ring” run by the Clintons.

    Biggs also claimed after the December 2015 San Bernardino, CA, shooting that “there's something fishy going on. This is one of those that has false flag written all over it without a doubt. … SWAT team was already geared up. The SWAT team was already geared up and there within seconds. They were geared up and ready within seconds. They knew that this was going to happen.”

    Biggs has repeatedly tweeted his approval of date rape and sexual violence. He tweeted to someone, “I like to reason with her (reason=chloroform) and then just drink a lot of beer and release.” He turned an American Pie joke into a pro-date rape reference by writing that “this one time at band camp i slipped a bitch roofies and convinced her my dick was a dick and not a flute.” He also tweeted, “Every girl at this bar wants to fuck me. They don't know it yet because the drugs haven't kicked in.” He addressed a “slut” by tweeting: “put my dick in your Mouth or I'll put it in your ass and lube it with tobasco.” He tweeted that his “favorite part of cuddling” is taking “nude photos of my dick all around your face #sleeptightbitch” and “your [sic] supposed to punch her in the face then cum on her tits right? Or did i twist it up.”

    Biggs summed up his idealized relationship with women when he wrote, “What Happened to the Good ole days when women just fucked your brains out and made you dinner” and “shut up bitch and blow me.” He also addressed a “bitch” who cheated on him: “Cheat on me bitch. But remember. I have many sex tapes and photos of your nasty ass In action. I might accidentally load them here.”

    Biggs has also written incendiary anti-LGBTQ tweets. He told his followers, “trannys eat kittens, and that's just not cool man. Punch a tranny save a pussy” and attacked those who disagree with him by calling them “fag.” He is also selling an “LGBT” shirt that stands for “Liberty, Guns Beer & Big Tits.”

    Here is a sampling of tweets from RSBN’s newest host:

    Sexist And Sexual Violence Tweets

    Anti-LGBTQ Tweets

  • NRATV Compares Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg To Nazi Germany's Secret Police

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, the host of the National Rifle Association’s NRATV, compared former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence prevention efforts to the work of the Gestapo, the state secret police in Nazi Germany.

    During the January 3 broadcast of NRATV, Stinchfield lauded Donald Trump’s election as the National Rifle Association’s “biggest victory,” before cheering that “nearly every candidate supported by Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun Gestapo lost” (emphasis added):

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (NRATV HOST): 2016 actually shaped up pretty well for the Second Amendment -- take a look. In Texas and Ohio, campus carry was victorious, making students and faculty on campus safer in those states on public universities. In Idaho and Mississippi, voters took the Second Amendment word for word and passed a permitless carry bill, making it every law-abiding citizen’s right in those states to carry a firearm without government intrusion. Florida reduced the cost of getting a concealed carry license, and Texas is set to take up similar legislation. In Maine we fought back and beat billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s quest for expanded background checks, and in Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill offering protections for public employees to carry firearms while at work. We did suffer some setbacks. Washington and Oregon are planning to join California to establish a “west coast wall” against bogusly named assault weapons. That, after California continued its own assault on the Second Amendment, banning the AR-15 and severely limiting how gun owners can buy ammunition. And with all of that, the members of the NRA can claim their biggest victory with the election of Donald Trump. But remember, nearly every candidate supported by Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun Gestapo lost. And that, too, is something we can smile about.

    Not only does Stinchfield compare Bloomberg, who is Jewish, to a Nazi, but his claim about Bloomberg’s election spending is false. According to Open Secrets, Bloomberg’s Independence USA spent $11,067,492 on federal races where the PAC’s preferred candidate won versus $788,926 on a race where the PAC’s preferred candidate lost. Bloomberg also spent substantial money backing the winners of gubernatorial races in Oregon and North Carolina.

    NRATV has served as a pro-Trump attack dog against the media since its launch in October, several weeks before the presidential election. As a rebranding of NRA News, it has the stated mission of providing “the most comprehensive video coverage of Second Amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world.” The show’s host, Stinchfield, interjects live hourly updates into a 24-hour video feed featuring archived material and other live programing.

    The NRA has a long history of comparing political opponents to Nazis. During a 2013 keynote speech to the National Rifle Association's annual convention, conservative radio host Glenn Beck criticized Michael Bloomberg and showed an image depicting the former New York mayor with his arm raised in a Nazi salute and wearing an armband. Jewish groups condemned Beck, with then-Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman calling for him to “stop trivializing the history of the Holocaust to score partisan political points.”

    In July 2014, NRA lobbyist Brian Judy attacked Seattle businessman Nick Hanauer's support of an expanded background check initiative by emphasizing Hanauer's Jewish background. Calling Hanauer "stupid," Judy argued that "he's put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis." Members of the NRA’s board of directors have routinely invoked Nazi Germany to attack gun safety efforts.

  • As Inauguration Approaches, NRATV Says Dissent Against Trump Is An "Assault" On The Constitution

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Ostensibly a news organization, the National Rifle Association’s NRATV is actually a pro-Trump propaganda effort that routinely labels protected-speech reporting on the president-elect as a plot to destroy the United States, “anti-patriotic,” and an “assault against freedom and the Constitution.”

    In fact, the opposite is true. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment, which reads in part, “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

    The protections afforded to the press by the First Amendment are, of course, not absolute. The publication of defamatory material can have legal repercussions. But the type of press activity NRATV describes as oppositional to the U.S. Constitution is actually accurate and sourced reporting on important matters of public interest.

    NRATV, a rebranding of NRA News, launched in October with the stated mission of providing “the most comprehensive video coverage of Second Amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world.” It brought on conservative radio's Grant Stinchfield to serve as a host, interjecting live hourly updates into a 24-hour video feed featuring archived material and other live programing. His initial updates, which signaled the NRA’s efforts to elect Trump as president, quickly took on an anti-democratic tone.

    During an October 26 broadcast, Stinchfield warned viewers about “the mainstream media’s assault against freedom and the Constitution” that “played out every night on the airwaves of America.”

    Just how was the “mainstream media” assaulting the Constitution? According to NRATV, it was by reporting on numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Trump instead of “important topics we need to be talking about, like save the Second Amendment.” As Stinchfield -- citing a report by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on allegations against Trump -- explained, “Overwhelmingly biased attacks against Donald Trump” were being “cloaked as real news”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): The mainstream media’s assault against freedom and the Constitution has played out every night on the airwaves of America. The overwhelmingly biased attacks against Donald Trump are usually cloaked as real news, when in reality it’s a diversion from the important topics we need to be talking about, like save the Second Amendment. Megyn Kelly performed this sleight-of-hand magic trick last night while she was interviewing former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. She only wanted to talk about the sexual allegations leveled against Donald Trump, but the speaker fought back.

    Reporting on allegations of sexual assault against a presidential candidate -- often while quoting victims on the record and confirming that they spoke of the alleged incidents contemporaneously with others -- is not an assault on the U.S. Constitution, but rather an exercise of freedom of the press.  

    Following Donald Trump’s victory, NRATV has adopted an even more authoritarian tone. During a November 29 broadcast about the “dishonest and downright dirty” mainstream media, Stinchfield argued that it is “anti-patriotic” to report on Trump and his transition team if those reports raise critical questions. Claiming that “the media needs to get on board,” Stinchfield said, “They talk about being anti-patriotic; when you call into question every single thing that this president-elect does and his transition team does, it’s the media that is trying to destroy our republic. They are trying to tear it down piece by piece by sending you false information.”

    There is nothing “anti-patriotic” about the press or others raising questions about the actions of the president-elect or his transition team. And calling for the media “to get on board” with Trump is dangerous rhetoric that discounts the crucial role of dissent in democracy.

    NRATV has suggested that its programming can serve as a replacement for traditional media. Stinchfield has claimed that mainstream media outlets “stoop to levels so low it’s time the American people find new sources of information,” before saying, “We here at NRATV are clearly filling a much-needed void.”

    Based on NRATV's coverage of Trump’s candidacy and his first weeks as president-elect, its leadership apparently thinks a more appropriate way for media outlets to cover Trump and his administration is through blatant cheerleading -- like when Stinchfield guaranteed that “you will be safer” under President Trump -- and spreading misinformation about his adversaries. For months, NRATV (and the NRA itself, through massive amounts of advertising) openly campaigned on behalf of Trump.

    An example of NRATV’s desperate attempts to help Trump get elected is an Election Day segment in which Stinchfield presented an article clearly marked as “fiction” as real news in order to attack Hillary Clinton.

    During NRATV’s November 8 broadcast, Stinchfield said that “America’s 1st Freedom magazine published an eye-opening piece about what the country would look like in 2020 if Hillary Clinton is elected president today” that included the “projections” such as that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be appointed U.N. ambassador and that he would use his position to “limit our ability to purchase guns here in the United States.”

    According to Stinchfield, “That alone should be enough motivation to head to the polls right now. It is our last chance to stop Hillary Clinton.”

    America’s 1st Freedom is an NRA publication. The article in question did not include any reporting supporting its suggestion that Bloomberg was likely to be picked by Clinton. In addition, the article included a “disclaimer” labeling the piece “a work of fiction.” (At the time of its publication, Media Matters highlighted other fantastical predictions contained within the article, including the prospect of Syrian refugees establishing an “Islamic State in the United States” culminating in a nuclear attack on U.S. soil.)

    While the America’s 1st Freedom article was comically overwrought, the NRA at least labeled it as “fiction.” But the NRATV broadcast presented it as some type of “eye-opening” analysis, and raised Bloomberg’s possible appointment as a legitimate reason to vote against Clinton.  

    Trump has made attacks on the press, including calls for curtailment of press freedoms, a hallmark of his campaign and transition period. And following his victory, NRATV has egged him on, telling the president-elect to “not stop holding the media accountable” and to not “stop his tough straight talk about the dishonesty of the media.”

    As Trump’s inauguration rapidly approaches, one thing is clear: If, as president, Trump attempts to tamp down on First Amendment protections for the press, he will have the organization that purports to defend another part of the Bill of Rights -- the Second Amendment -- firmly at his side.    

  • NRATV’s Dana Loesch Lashes Out After Calls For FedEx To End Its Business Relationship With The NRA

    Loesch: Use FedEx To Send Gun Safety Groups “A Bag Of Richards”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative radio host and NRATV commentator Dana Loesch criticized members of the gun safety movement following the launch of a campaign asking shipping company FedEx to end its business relationship with the National Rifle Association.

    Gun safety group Guns Down is currently leading a campaign to ask FedEx to leave the NRA’s Business Alliance. As a member of the alliance, FedEx currently offers NRA members discounted shipping services.

    A petition issued by Guns Down calls for FedEx to “cease supporting a reckless organization that puts the public safety of Americans at risk in the name of corporate profits.” It says the NRA’s agenda includes accepting “millions of dollars from gun manufacturers every year to advance an extremist pro-gun agenda, including eliminating gun-free zones at schools and houses of worship, gutting criminal background checks for gun sales, and allowing open carrying of guns in all public places.” Media Matters joined other organizations in signing a letter Guns Down sent to FedEx asking the shipping company to drop the NRA.

    Loesch, who is an NRA employee, attacked the campaign during the December 21 broadcast of The Dana Show by insulting “those harpies from the Moms Demand Box Wine” (a reference to gun safety group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America). Loesch’s rant culminated in her suggesting that people use FedEx to send gummy penises to gun safety organizations.

    From the December 21 edition of The Dana Show:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): The gun control lobby, they’re mad. Because FedEx offers NRA members a discount. A lot of people get discounts with FedEx, but NRA members get a discount with FedEx and it’s sort of just like how some of the gun control groups -- they can fundraise off Amazon. You know how you can do like a charity donation, or something with Amazon? They can do all of that. And so they’re ticked off because FedEx, which I’ve had all my stuff shipped with FedEx this Christmas, because they have an NRA discount. So the gun control lobby is freaking out over FedEx. If you’re online, give FedEx some love. Because they’ve got those harpies from the Moms Demand Box Wine and those pedophile moron members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. There were convicted members of that so try to bring that up. And then the folks over at Everytown, they’ve been slamming FedEx because NRA has a discount. But at the same time they’re telling everybody go shop at Amazon and use this to fundraise for Everytown. You don’t see me freaking out over that, do you? Of course, I have the courage of my convictions. They don’t. Oh, yeah, maybe we should FedEx them -- there’s some funny gummy things, bags of gummy things that you can FedEx people that I’m -- seriously.

    PRODUCER: Yeah, a whole bag of richards.

    LOESCH: A whole bag of richards. You can really send that, that’s great. Bag of richards, write that down, that’s another band name. Bag of richards, that is a great band name.

    Related:

    TELL FEDEX: STOP SUPPORTING THE NRA

    Previously:

    On The Kelly File, Dana Loesch Claims Banning The AR-15 "Is A War On Women"

    Dana Loesch's New Gun Book Botches Quotes From The Founding Fathers

  • Move Over, Jim Crow; NRATV Calls Minimum Wage "Most Discriminatory Regulation Ever Enacted"

    NRATV Host: “Imagine You Have Little Mental Capacity, You Can’t Do Anything But Sweep The Floor. To A Business You Are Not Worth Eight, 10, Or Certainly Not $15 An Hour”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The National Rifle Association’s NRATV defended President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of fast food CEO Andy Puzder for labor secretary by claiming that “minimum wage is the most discriminatory regulation ever enacted.”

    Puzder, who heads Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has attacked calls for a higher minimum wage and claimed low-wage employees would turn down promotions because they "don't want to lose the free stuff from the government.”

    The December 15 broadcast of NRATV took things even further with host Grant Stinchfield defending Trump’s selection by calling for the total elimination of the minimum wage in the name of “freedom,” arguing that imposing a minimum wage amounted to discrimination against “low-level workers.” Stinchfield claimed, “Now imagine you have little mental capacity, you can’t do anything but sweep the floor. To a business you are not worth eight, ten, or certainly not $15 an hour”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (NRATV HOST): As the media continues to freak out over the election of Donald Trump, it continues to spew negative stories about him none of which are based in fact. As The Wall Street Journal points out, we are being told that we can’t trust any of Trump’s cabinet picks. Mainstream reporters tell us they are all a threat to our nation. Take the pick of Andy Puzder for labor secretary. They say he’s unacceptable to the left because he is against the minimum wage hike. But the left fails to realize the minimum wage is the most discriminatory regulation ever enacted. You see, we at NRATV are all about freedom. That includes freedom to make decisions and deals for yourself. Now imagine you have little mental capacity, you can’t do anything but sweep the floor. To a business you are not worth eight, 10, or certainly not $15 an hour. Now that might sound harsh, but the minimum wage is harsher. With it, the government just barred you from working. Even if someone wants to pay you five dollars an hour, they can’t. Meaning the minimum wage leaves millions of low-level workers on the sidelines. Do away with the minimum wage and you put millions of Americans back to work tomorrow. Now that’s freedom. It’s also something the left refuses to acknowledge, just as it can’t acknowledge gun ownership equals freedom too.

    Previously:

    What You Need To Know About Rumored Trump Labor Secretary Andy Puzder

    Myths & Facts: The Minimum Wage

    Host Of NRA's New Pro-Trump Show: "Blame Minorities" For Gun Violence

  • Trump Ally And News Source Alex Jones Regularly Pushes CIA Conspiracy Theories

    Jones Previously Said The CIA Was Involved In 9/11 And The Oklahoma City And Boston Marathon Bombings

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning President-elect Donald Trump that “rogue elements” within the CIA are trying to “assassinate” him before he takes office. Trump, who has been publicly feuding with the CIA in recent weeks, reportedly speaks to Jones on the phone and watches his videos. He has previously echoed Jones' other conspiracy theories and rhetoric.

    Jones is a toxic promoter of conspiracy theories, including that the United States government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon, among others. He was also a leading promoter of the false “pizzagate” conspiracy theories that led a Jones listener to fire a gun inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.

    Trump has mainstreamed Jones: He appeared on Jones’ program in December 2015 and said he has an “amazing” reputation. Trump also called Jones after the election to thank his audience for supporting his candidacy and promised to appear on his program soon.

    Trump reportedly watches Jones’ program and he has repeatedly echoed Jones’ ideas and rhetoric, prompting Jones to remark that it’s “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word for word hear Trump say it two days later.” Top Trump adviser Roger Stone is also a contributor and frequent guest to Jones’ program. He told Jones that Trump appreciates his work and “knows that you are the centerpiece of the resistance.”

    The CIA recently “concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency,” according to The Washington Post. Trump has responded to the report by dismissing and attacking the CIA. The Post subsequently reported that Trump’s attacks “will probably deepen an existing rift between Trump and the agencies and raised questions about how the government’s 16 spying agencies will function in his administration on matters such as counterterrorism and cyberwarfare.”

    Meanwhile, Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning Trump that people within the CIA are “planning to assassinate” or “overthrow” Trump and that the agency is “thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies” in order to do that.

    Author Jon Ronson reported that Jones told him he and Trump speak on the phone and he also communicates with the president-elect through YouTube videos. Jones reportedly said: “I put a video out … a message to Trump. And then two days later he lays out the case. It’s like sending up the Bat Signal.”

    Following the Post’s CIA story, Jones issued an “emergency alert” video on December 11 warning Trump that the CIA is trying “to assassinate” the president-elect. From his December 11 video:

    ALEX JONES: Why I’m really concerned is that this could be used inside government to trigger emergency systems under COG (continuity of government) that if a major leader like the president is actually a foreign agent they can then reportedly be taken out. And so to have the bold move of implying that a president-elect is being manipulated and controlled by the Russians is a very, very serious telltale sign that they could be thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies to actually try to assassinate the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, before he even gets into office. Because remember: They are incredibly desperate right now.

    Jones added later in his video that “criminal corporate elements inside the CIA and other agencies” are “moving right now to try to basically overthrow Trump.”

    On December 11, he issued another "alert" in which he accused the CIA of subverting Trump and the election. Jones said he “contacted the proper parties. I have run this intel up a lot of important, informed flagpoles, and they all concurred that there is a plan, which we now see is quite evident, to try to steal the election from the American people and Donald J. Trump.” He added that “rogue elements of the CIA are planning to assassinate Trump if they can. They’re definitely looking at it right now.”

    Jones also appeared live in an “emergency” Facebook video on December 12 under the caption “CIA Now Stealing Election Trump Must Go On Offense!” In a “message to the president,” Jones told Trump, “I know you see some of my reports, but you’ve got to go on the offense” against perceived anti-Trump forces because “they’re going to politically kill you, and your name first, then they’re going to kill you.” He then suggested that members of the CIA are “enemies” and encouraged him to “go all the way” against them. 

    Jones’ YouTube channel has published numerous other videos accusing the CIA of trying to kill or "overturn" Trump's election. Headlines include “It's Official: CIA, Dems, MSM Planning To Overturn Trump Election!”;National Emergency: CIA Attempting To Overthrow Election”; “Entire MSM Promote Assassination Of Trump, In Prep For CIA Takeover”; and “CIA/Dems Move Forward With Plan to Steal Election From Trump.”

    Jones has accused the CIA of being involved in some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history. Jones said roughly a week after September 11 that the attacks were “a federal operation” and he had “smoking gun evidence” that Osama Bin Laden was “a CIA asset” and “a CIA hireling doing his job” for the government.

    He claimed that the CIA was part of a government cabal that bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Jones said, “Oklahoma City was a total false flag with NATO, the ATF, and the CIA and the FBI.”

    Jones claimed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the Boston Marathon bombing, “was totally set up, ladies and gentlemen, to sell the police state.” Jones also claimed that Dzhokhar's deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “worked for the CIA.” 

    The conspiracy theorist also recently claimed that Facebook’s new plan to fight fake news is a CIA plot and called on Trump to “unfund the CIA trying to run this.” 

  • Alex Jones Deletes Video In Which He Had Told His Audience To Personally "Investigate" "Pizzagate" Restaurant

    Deletion Came After Listener Seeking To "Self-Investigate" Comet Ping Ping Fired Shots Inside

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Alex Jones suggested last month on his radio show that “something’s being covered up” at the restaurant that’s been falsely accused in the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory and “it needs to be investigated.” Days later an Alex Jones listener attempted to "self-investigate” Comet Ping Pong and ended up firing his gun inside the restaurant. After the shooting -- and after media began reporting that the shooter is a fan of Jones -- Jones deleted the YouTube video.

    Jones is a radio host who has pushed the conspiracy theories that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon. Jones has also repeatedly accused the Clintons of murder. He has been elevated from the fringes to the mainstream by President-elect Donald Trump, who appeared on his show in December 2015 and praised his “amazing” reputation. Trump adviser Roger Stone is also a regular Jones guest and contributor.

    Jones and his Infowars website have promoted the false conspiracy theory dubbed "pizzagate," which alleges that top Clinton associates such as campaign chairman John Podesta are trafficking children through the Comet Ping Pong restaurant.

    On his November 27 program, Jones spent roughly half an hour pushing pizzagate conspiracy theories and told his audience that they “have to go investigate it for yourself," claiming, "Something’s going on. Something’s being covered up. It needs to be investigated.” From that program:

    ALEX JONES: Now I want to be clear. Not everybody in the WikiLeaks is involved in this. Clearly. You have to go investigate it for yourself. But I will warn you, this story that’s been the biggest thing on the internet for several weeks, pizzagate as it’s called, is a rabbit hole that is horrifying to go down.

    […]

    Let’s go ahead and go to the report, Pizzagate Is Real. The question is: How real is it? What is it? Something’s going on. Something’s being covered up. It needs to be investigated. To just call it fake news -- these are real WikiLeaks. This is real stuff going on. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 11/27/16

    Jones then aired a previously taped video titled “Pizzagate Is Real: Something Is Going On, But What?” During that video, Infowars producer Jon Bowne stated that Clinton allies were “using a code to communicate child sex trafficking as casually as ordering a pizza.” The video then claimed that Comet Ping Pong “may be competing for the lucrative Washington, D.C., pedophile market right out in the open.”

    Jones also suggested that he himself would be “getting on a plane” to visit Comet Ping Pong. He stated: “I couldn’t sleep last night and you know, people may look into it. I may take off a week and just only research this and actually go to where these places are and stuff. In fact I’m looking at getting on a plane -- it’s just like Bohemian Grove and stuff, I can’t just say something and not see it for myself. They go to these pizza places, there’s like satanic art everywhere.” 

    Later in the program, Jones backtracked and said that he “can’t go out there and investigate it myself. We’ve had reporters on that have been there. They say it’s really creepy because -- I don’t have the self-control to be around these type of people. So you want us to cover pizzagate, we have covered it. We are covering it. And all I know is God help us, we’re in the hands of pure evil.”

    Days later an Alex Jones fan decided to “self-investigate” the conspiracy theory at Comet Ping Pong. On December 4, Edgar Maddison Welch entered the pizzeria and, during his attempt to uncover the supposed sex ring, fired an assault rifle inside while scaring patrons and staff.

    Welch also told The New York Times that he listens to Jones, and he reportedly "liked" Infowars on Facebook. The FBI said that Welch shared a separate video headlined “Watch PIZZAGATE: The Bigger Picture on YouTube” with a friend. “Pizzagate: The Bigger Picture” is the headline Infowars used for a December 1 article -- still online -- promoting a video from Infowars producer Jon Bowne that also pushes the pizzagate conspiracy theory.

    Jones has been scrubbing his pizzagate content from the internet following the shooting. The November 27 report that called for people to “investigate” pizzagate was originally uploaded to Jones' YouTube channel under the headline “Down The #Pizzagate Rabbit Hole - Warning! Soul Sucking Info.”

    He has since removed the video. According to the Internet Archive, the “Down The #Pizzagate Rabbit Hole” video was online as of December 6 but “removed by the user” by December 7. A tweet by Jones promoting the video is still online; it captures roughly 10 minutes of the video and links to the removed YouTube page. Non-Jones YouTube accounts have re-uploaded the “Down The #Pizzagate Rabbit Hole - Warning! Soul Sucking Info.” The video is roughly 30 minutes long. 

    Jones also removed the Jon Bowne video that Jones played during his November 27 program. On November 23, Jones’ YouTube channel posted the video with the headline “Pizzagate Is Real: Something Is Going On, But What?” The video was removed “by the user” shortly after the shooting, according to the Internet Archive.

    Jones posted a December 15 video in which he lied about his prior promotions of the pizzagate conspiracy theory. He claimed that he actually said there’s “probably nothing going on there” and his lawyers reviewed his coverage and found that he’s been the “most restrained of all the coverage” in the alternative media.

    Jones also said in the recent video that that he warned his staff that pizzagate was “probably a setup” and that unnamed adversaries are “probably going to shoot that place up or something” and then blame Jones. He then claimed that they were setting him up so they can ban “free speech” and have him “taken off the airwaves”

  • Fox News’ Fox & Friends Was The Only Cable News Morning Show To Ignore The Dylann Roof Verdict

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    While every other major cable news morning show acknowledged the guilty verdict of Charleston, SC, gunman Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black parishioners in a racially motivated shooting, Fox News’ Fox & Friends made no mention of it during the December 16 broadcast.

    On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, and murdered nine black parishioners, having been influenced by white supremacists and white nationalists. On December 15, Roof was found guilty on all 33 charges brought against him, including “hate crimes that resulted in death,” after only two hours of deliberation by the jury.

    While cable morning shows on CNN and MSNBC both reported on the verdict and discussed the implications for race relations, Fox & Friends failed to mention it, even in a brief headlines segment. Instead, the show found time to host a Fox News doctor to attack the Affordable Care Act, give a Fox News contributor who is under consideration for a position in the incoming administration an opportunity to pitch himself, and test out “As Seen on TV” products.

    The omission is not the first time Fox News has played down the issues surrounding the Charleston murders. When the shooting was first reported, Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy claimed it was “extraordinary” that it was considered a hate crime, Fox guest Rudy Giuliani claimed that Roof potentially “hat[ed] Christian churches” -- a point that was echoed by Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade on his radio show -- and one Fox guest blamed the shooting on “the left wing” and “their education system.”