This week, National Rifle Association president David Keene will moderate a "conservative conversation" at the Chicago Conservative Political Action Conference with NRA board member Maria Heil, Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson, and Wisconsin Tea Party figure Kimberly Jo Simac. Keene and the panelists all have a history of extreme and conspiratorial rhetoric.
Conservative media outlets are credulously reporting House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's claim that wiretap applications signed by senior Justice Department officials "prove" they "approved" of dangerous gunwalking tactics in the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious, contradicting prior DOJ statements. In doing so, they ignore that the DOJ has repeatedly stated that senior officials do not necessarily review wiretap applications themselves, but rather largely rely on summaries of those applications produced by line attorneys.
"Documents prove senior Justice officials approved Fast and Furious, Issa says," reads the headline of Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's latest foray into reporting on the ATF's fatally flawed gunwalking operation.
Leaning heavily on Issa's just-released letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Boyle reports that Issa has obtained wiretap applications for that operation that were signed by senior DOJ officials. Boyle notes that Issa claims those documents "show that immense details about questionable investigative tactics were available" to those officials via those applications, supposedly disproving numerous DOJ statements that senior officials there were not privy to the details of gunwalking.
But there's one question that this sort of credulous recitation of Issa's claims does not address: Did those officials actually review the wiretap applications that Issa says contained that information? According to prior DOJ statements dating back to at least last year, the answer is no.
This is not the first time Issa has claimed that wiretap applications supposedly proved knowledge of gunwalking techniques on the part of senior DOJ officials. In February, his committee made similar allegations, claiming in a staff report that "Congressional investigators have learned about the information contained in one Wiretap Authorization and Wiretap Affidavit from Fast and Furious that Jason Weinstein signed. The Wiretap Affidavit presented Weinstein with the details of at least two instances in which ATF agents had witnessed illegal straw purchasing and the subsequent transfer of the purchased weapons to other individuals."
But Politico reported at the time that "Weinstein told investigators that it was his 'general practice' not to read the underlying affidavits in such cases but to rely on a so-called cover memo prepared by another Justice Department office." This was consistent with Politico's report last November in response to similar claims that the wiretap applications could have bearing on what senior DOJ officials knew of Fast and Furious:
The Justice official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said wiretap applications are reviewed by another DOJ office which writes a detailed cover memo that is usually the focus of review by Breuer's staff.
"What gets pulled out for their review is therough the lens of those two questions: necessity and probably cause," the official said.
In a letter that the committee's ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), released in response to Issa's letter today, he reiterated these points in even greater detail.
The Orlando Sentinel writes today on the gun lobby's efforts to make hay over gun rights prevention group Mayors Against Illegal Guns' program to fund public officials who work to reduce the spread of illegal guns (emphasis added):
Gun-rights advocates are squaring off against Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for hiring a new city employee to spearhead the city's fight against illegal guns.
Dyer said the city is simply targeting so-called "crime guns" that end up in the hands of felons. But a gun-rights group argues that public employees shouldn't be trying to erode the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Are those employees truly working to "erode the Second Amendment"? According to statements from Mayor Dyer ("We have no interest in eroding citizens' Second Amendment rights. I'm a gun-toting hunter myself") and the employee, Linda Vaughn, as well as MAIG's mission statement and the policies MAIG supports (closing the "gun-show loophole" and preventing the passage of concealed carry reciprocity), no. All of that information is included elsewhere in the Sentinel's article.
Nonetheless, the Sentinel reports that the gun lobby views MAIG as "a group of gun haters whose agenda is more far-reaching," without stating outright that there is no evidence to support that contention.
In doing so, the Sentinel acts to privilege the lie. The story is based in its entirety on criticisms from gun activists and their contention that MAIG, Dyer, and the staffer are engaged in an effort to undermine the Second Amendment. But rather than state clearly that a group with a conservative political agenda is making baseless claims, the paper merely reports, "Group A says X, while Group B says Y." Who's to know which side is right?
Without that central premise that this program is supposedly intended to further a "gun hating" cause, the story becomes far less interesting. After all, mayors hire staffers to carry out their public agenda. Gun crime prevention is an issue of concern for many mayors, including Dyer, so they seek to hire staffers to focus on that problem full-time, just as they might hire staffers to oversee city efforts on disaster recovery or business development.
In this particular case, a non-profit foundation is willing to help out with the costs, saving the city money. This is far from the first time private money has been used to support public work - for example, the tax forms of the National Rifle Association Foundation reveal dozens of grants to local municipalities to fund gun range improvements and gun safety courses.
The right-wing website Daily Caller yesterday published an article by Jim Pontillo, the firearms manufacturer they have partnered with for their controversial gun giveaway promotion. The publication drew criticism last week following the revelation of Pontillo's past racially offensive and insurrectionist writings.
Pontillo's article for the "Guns and Gear" section is a list of the "Top 10 Guns You'll Find at the Neighborhood Liberal Gun Store" and disparages a wide range of Democratic politicians. Pontillo's list includes the "Pelosi Clinton Mini Derringer" ("Pull the trigger and this pocket pistol shrieks and cackles. No man can stand to be in the vicinity when this thing goes off.").
The Daily Caller's decision to publish Pontillo's political musings comes only a week after the website said his views were irrelevant, telling the Washington Post, "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant." The Caller's decision to feature Pontillo's work follows their "Guns and Gear" section editor's disclosure that he and Pontillo came up with the idea for the Caller gun promotion together.
This is not the first time Pontillo has written for the Caller. In December he authored a rambling piece for the site criticizing "those who lament America's cultural evolution toward secular society" for "devoid[ing] the moral absolutes that served our Founding Fathers" and attacking "the political class and by the main stream media" for supposedly disparaging his customers.
During an interview on NRA News, Mike Piccione, editor of Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" section, and host Ginny Simone spoke of "a team effort" between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Caller to promote gun ownership. During the interview Piccione said he hoped to expand his online publication's controversial gun giveaway promotion by giving away a firearm to a Caller email list subscriber who signs up for an NRA membership.
MIKE PICCIONE, DAILY CALLER GUNS AND GEAR EDITOR: Check back though because we're going to do a few things. One thing I want to do is I want to give a gun to somebody that joins the National Rifle Association from the Daily Caller.
GINNY SIMONE, HOST: Alrighty.
PICCIONE: Absolutely. Join the NRA and we'll support you.
SIMONE: It's a team effort.
Piccione also admitted that the gun giveaway promotion was the result of a brainstorm session with far right-wing gun manufacturer Jim Pontillo.
The Caller at one point distanced themselves from Pontillo's political views when confronted with extreme and racial comments about President Obama made by prize gun manufacturer Pontillo, telling The Washington Post, "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant." But the next day, Piccione told NRA News host Ginny Simone that he came up with the idea for the promotion with his "friend" Pontillo in order to "remind people" that Caller is "pro-Constitution" and "pro-gun."
During a May 23 appearance on NRA News' Cam & Company, John Frazer, the research director for the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm, attacked a new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study while failing to acknowledge that the main premise of the study is true: gun deaths now outpace motor vehicle deaths in 10 states.
[Violence Policy Center, 5/22/2012]
Using the most recently available data, VPC also demonstrated that nationwide motor vehicle deaths have declined over the last decade while gun related deaths ticked up during this period. VPC attributes this difference to successful regulation of motor vehicles and a lack of such regulation with regard to guns.
[Violence Policy Center, 5/22/2012]
In response to the study, Frazer was forced to make the contrived argument that only fatal accidents involving firearms should be compared to accidental motor vehicle deaths. At no point during the interview did he acknowledge that in a number of states the total number of deaths as a result of firearm use exceeded deaths resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle or that the gap between the firearm and motor vehicle death rate is narrowing.
FRAZER: What [VPC] are talking about is a pure apples and oranges comparison. They are comparing total numbers across the board, which is a completely invalid comparison because obviously most vehicle deaths are accidents. So if they really want an aggregate comparison they should compare motor vehicle accidents to firearmsaccidents, and firearms accidents are at their lowest point in recorded history.
But an aggregate comparison is exactly what VPC did.
Just one day after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) disbanded its Public Safety and Elections Task Force that was responsible for model voter ID and "Kill At Will" self-defense legislation like that linked to Trayvon Martin's death, a new organization emerged to carry the torch for the implementation of voter ID laws nationwide.
In an April 18 press release, the innocuous-sounding National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) heralded "the formation of a 'Voter Identification Task Force,' intended to continue the excellent work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting." According to NCPPR chair Amy Ridenour, "conservatives will kick up our support for voter integrity programs. We're putting the left on notice: you take out a conservative program operating in one area, we'll kick it up a notch somewhere else. You will not win. We outnumber you and we outthink you, and when you kick up a fuss you inspire us to victory."
NCPPR's press release ominously concluded with a claim that NCPPR was prepared to pull a metaphoric gun on its political opponents: "Unlike [ALEC critic] the Center for American Progress, the National Center for Public Policy Research eschews the use of violent references such as 'War Room.' We are, however, inspired by a particular passage in the 1987 movie 'The Untouchables': 'They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.' Indeed." So much for eschewing violent references.
It was only fitting then that the National Rifle Association, the former private sector co-chair of ALEC's disbanded Public Safety and Elections Task Force, would give NCPPR free publicity. During the May 22 edition of NRA News' Cam & Company, NCPPR adjunct fellow Horace Cooper appeared to discuss his organization's voter fraud hysteria.
The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and employees of Fox News have repeatedly shielded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from criticism without disclosing that parent company News Corp. is a member of that organization.
Since mid-April the Journal has defended ALEC, a shadowy conservative organization backed by corporate giants that tailors model bills for state legislatures, in two editorials and also published two op-eds attacking the group's critics. Fox News likewise highlighted the criticism of ALEC in at least five April segments, with Bill O'Reilly describing its opponents as "very, very vicious" and questioning whether they were engaging in "blackmail." The network even hosted ALEC's communications director to defend the group. In none of those segments or articles was News Corp.'s ALEC membership mentioned.
This morning the Center for Media and Democracy, which rigorously monitors ALEC, reported:
Documents obtained and released by Common Cause show that News Corp. was a member of ALEC's Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force as of April 2010. Adam Peshek, who staffs ALEC's Education Task Force, told Education Week that News Corp. has been a member of both ALEC's Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force since January 2012.
ALEC has come under fire in recent months for promoting model state legislation for restrictive voter ID laws and Kill at Will self-defense laws similar to the Florida statute cited in the Trayvon Marton killing. Progressives have responded by urging legislators, corporations, and organizations affiliated with ALEC to cut their ties. At least 19 corporate or non-profit members and 54 state legislators have left the group as a result of the campaign.
News Corp.'s conservative media entities have pushed back against this campaign, claiming that progressives are "playing the race card" as part of a "remarkable political assault," and lauded companies that have yet to disassociate themselves from ALEC. But they have not disclosed that their own parent company is one of those ALEC members.
In 2010 News Corp. drew criticism -- including from shareholders -- following the disclosure that the company had donated $2.25 million to GOP-linked groups including the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After that information was revealed, Fox News offered only intermittent disclosure of those donations during their reports on gubernatorial races and the chamber.
The company subsequently adopted "a new policy to publicly disclose corporate political contributions annually on News Corporation's corporate web site." Any ALEC membership fees paid by News Corp. are not indicated in their disclosure of corporate political contributions for 2011, which lists only contributions to candidates for office and political action and party committees.
The Daily Caller wants to give you a free gun. A free gun with the Bill of Rights inscribed on the slide, presumably so that not all of your patriotism has to go downrange.
These weapons are made by Jim Pontillo, the owner of FMK Firearms. In addition to making guns, Pontillo moonlights as a lunatic conservative writer. We pointed out yesterday that he's written a smattering of columns for Human Events, one of which extolled the patriotic ardor of modern-day secessionists. And it turns out that, until recently, Pontillo blogged enthusiastically at his website, ForMyKountry.com.
Pontillo's writing bears all the hallmarks of fringe right-wing craziness, to include:
I am looking forward to [Obama's] inaugural address where the "coolest" "rock-star" Commander-In-Chief we've ever had wows us all by doing a fly-by around the newly repainted "Black House" and lands softly at the podium using nothing but those big ears for the flight.
As for Obama, I cannot see how he can expect to get any kind of majority among white America when his most fervent supporters hate white America.
Barack Obama will do very nicely for himself as a politician who represents a narrow and prejudiced group, he'll make lots of money and probably enjoy a long life in public service, but he will never be President of the United States; that job requires he represent all Americans, not just the angry black ones.
For president, he's done.
Poorly considered defenses of the Confederacy:
The American character, from the pilgrims on, has been defined by a special reverence for individual independence and individual right. Recalling the Civil War, the slave issue aside, it is natural to understand the Confederate rebellion. A resistance to government power is integral to the American DNA.
Favorable comparisons of Arizona's SB 1070 to the attack on Fort Sumter:
Arizona's SB1070 is a preemptive strike; a warning to a despotic administration that the American people are only going to tolerate a limited amount of assault on their sovereignty, it is a precursor revealing dissatisfaction turning to action.
Whether or not SB1070 is proper or right is really not the point. The question is...
Are Americans beginning to feel as intently in 2010 that its government has unjustly pushed them, as did the Confederate citizens of 1860?
Pontillo has also published some creepily bizarre stuff that transcends mere fringy-ness and is actually pretty alarming. Like his one-act play about the Virginia Tech massacre (written from the point of view of the murder weapon). And his belief that "we should send the U.S. Military down to Mexico, seize their oil fields, and confiscate the proceeds until the Mexican government changes its policy of encouraging their population to come here for work and send money home, all subsidized by American taxpayers."
This kind of conspiratorial and extremist thought permeates American gun culture, from small-time gun nuts like Pontillo to the highest levels of the NRA, and is enabled by the Daily Caller, which is handing out dangerous weapons just to get a little bump in traffic.
UPDATE: Slate's David Weigel asked Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson about Pontillo's column calling Arizona's SB 1070 "a warning to a despotic administration that the American people are only going to tolerate a limited amount of assault on their sovereignty." Carlson responded to Weigel, "A little rebellion once in a while isn't a bad thing."
UPDATE X2: Erik Wemple of the Washington Post contacted the Daily Caller about Pontillo's "racier opinions." The Caller responded: "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant."
UPDATE X3: The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released a statement condemning the Daily Caller for promoting Pontillo, given his "inappropriate and dangerous" commentary: "That Tucker Carlson and the Daily Caller would promote a man like firearms manufacturer Jim Pontillo to their readers is a testament to how far the American Conservative movement has moved to the right in the last several years."
Right-wing news site The Daily Caller has come up with an innovative new method of attracting people to sign up for their email updates: Each week through Election Day new registrants will be eligible to win a free handgun. And not just any handgun; the weapon in question is "engraved with the Bill of Rights."
The gun's manufacturer, Jim Pontillo, has attacked American progressives for supposedly seeking to promote communism in America and claimed that "people calling for secession" are not "fanatics who hate America" but are instead acting "in the Founding tradition."
This ad is currently running on the website's NRA-sponsored "Guns and Gear" page:
Clicking on the image diverts readers to the landing page for "The Daily Caller Gun Giveaway," which states:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day -- November 6, 2012.
The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.
To enter this week's contest, simply sign up below to receive updates from The Daily Caller. Our DC Morning emails are an informative and amusing way to keep up with the latest news.
For many American citizens who embrace a political philosophy which swings left, collectivism, socialism, and ultimately communism is the idealist utopia they aspire to capture and promulgate across America. For these people, For My Kountry, means to ridicule excellence, to fear prosperity, and to blame others for individual failures.
It is an ideology which springs from mankind's weakest tenets...jealousy and envy. It is an ideology which attempts to tear all down to one low and "equal" or "fair" level. It is an ideology incapable of raising anyone or anything upward. Most of all, it is an ideology without any understanding of American culture or our American Founders' dream of creating a country free from government tyranny, open to individual initiative, and most important, insuring to all citizens those inalienable rights guaranteed to mankind by God.
During a May 18 appearance on Fox's America's Newsroom, conspiracy peddler Katie Pavlich made a number of far out claims concerning how the doctrine of separation of power relates to the ongoing investigation of the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious by congressional Republicans.
As you may recall from high school civics class, separation of powers refers to the system of government we have in the United States where the authority of the federal government is divided among three co-equal branches. This equilibrium between branches of the federal government is maintained through the system of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution.
But in Pavlich's world, the legislative branch reigns supreme and the Department of Justice must supply any and all documents requested by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) during his committee's investigation. This ridiculous theory would disrupt the system of checks and balances and is refuted by Congress' own research department and court precedent concerning the right of the Executive to withhold certain types of information.
KATIE PAVLICH, TOWNHALL NEWS EDITOR: Not to mention you have the Justice Department engaging in a full on cover-up, the latest in Eric Holder refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena, which they have the authority to issue and Justice Department has to comply with it under the terms of the Constitution. It's just another way of proving that they really have a lot to hide here.
BILL HEMMER, HOST: You also know there are tens of thousands of documents that have been given internally to an IG -- an inspector general -- why is that not sufficient? Explain that?
PAVLICH: Well the Inspector General actually worked for Eric Holder during his time as a U.S. Attorney in Washington D.C. so there is a conflict of interest there. And everything that the Inspector General is privy to, Congress is also privy too, and the Justice Department investigating itself on this matter, they are willing to go to the lengths of covering it up internally.
PAVLICH: Speaker Boehner did push President Obama this week to tell his Attorney General to start complying and getting to the bottom of Fast and Furious. In fact, this investigation has been going on for more than a year now. We deserve answers. And President Obama, as the Commander in Chief, has a responsibility to tell his Attorney General, "Congress has the authority to subpoena you and you have to comply with that."
In the span of a few minutes, Pavlich butchered a number of basic principles concerning how our federal government operates. It was pointless of Pavlich to mention that the Department of Justice's inspector general used to work for Attorney General Eric Holder in order to suggest bias on his part, because the Department of Justice's inspector general also works for Holder presently. That is what (non-presidentially appointed) inspectors general do; they serve as politically independent individuals within government agencies for the purpose of conducting internal investigations. Furthermore, the president's responsibilities as Commander in Chief relate to command of the military, not the president's ability to oversee federal agencies as Pavlich suggested.
But the biggest error made by Pavlich -- one that she repeated three times during her appearance -- is that the Department of Justice must turn over every single document requested by the House Oversight Committee in order to be in compliance with Issa's subpoena.
During the May 16 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News "straight news" anchor Martha MacCallum and Fox News contributor and The Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson echoed complaints from the Republican chaired House Oversight Committee about the documents the Justice Department has released responding to their subpoena of files related to the failed Fast and Furious operation:
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well there were 22 questions in the last subpoena. 13 of them remain unanswered. The Justice Department hasn't forwarded documents that the House Oversight Committee has requested. And by the way some of those questions, that's the majority of questions, remain unanswered, some of them pertain directly to Attorney General Eric Holder. The Justice Department's position appears to be we can investigate this internally and so we don't need to comply with Congress. I think this is a collision course. Remember this subpoena was issued in October. It's been more than six months now and they have refused to comply. And they have not invoked executive privilege by the way. So it's not even clear on what grounds they are refusing to comply. I don't think there is any question, at least at this point, that there is going to be a contempt citation.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Well we'll see. And it feels like stalling and feet dragging to a great extent on the part of the Department of Justice.
MACCALLUM: Because they are saying they can't fire anybody, they are doing their own investigation. That is going to take quite some time, most likely until after the election is over and that until they finish that investigation--snicker snicker--and until that investigation is over they feel it wouldn't be right to come out and talk about who they think knew more than they say they knew or exactly when Eric Holder became aware of this program that saw a law enforcement agent killed.
Carlson's comments echo the reporting of his employee, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle, who has written numerous articles about Fast and Furious over the past few months. His pieces almost invariably include the line, "Holder has failed to comply with Issa's Oct. 12, 2011, subpoena," or some variation thereof and often include the claim that DOJ has been nonresponsive to 13 of the subpoena's 22 questions.
These reports minimize the fact that DOJ has released extensive and detailed information about what documents the agency has released to Issa. According to DOJ, responsive documents to 16 of the 22 questions contained in Issa's subpoena have been turned over to the House Oversight Committee or been made available for viewing by Oversight Committee staff. DOJ has stated that no responsive information exists to one of the questions. Additionally, DOJ has stated it does possess documents responsive to the five remaining questions in the subpoena and additional documents responsive to the other categories, but that it is unable to release this material because it is either relevant to ongoing criminal investigations or prosecutions or is deliberative and therefore protected by executive privilege.
But Fox News and The Daily Caller would rather regurgitate Republican talking points than admit that there are two sides to this story.
Breitbart.com blogger Ken Klukowski has joined the ranks of right-wing figures hyping the bogus conspiracy theory that the ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious was actually a secret Obama administration plot to undermine the Second Amendment rather than an operation to bring down Mexican drug cartels. However, the lead Republican investigating the Fast and Furious operation, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), has repeatedly released reports that have debunked this theory.
Klukowski wrote that "the NRA has been pushing for information regarding who knew what in the administration, and any related political objectives being pursued by Team Obama." Klukowski also quoted NRA chief lobbyist Christopher Cox as saying that "[a]ccording to their internal emails, it was all to advance their gun-control agenda."
But in a May 3 memorandum and accompanying report attempting to lay the groundwork for a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, Issa said that the Fast and Furious operation to allow straw purchasers to buy and transfer guns without being arrested was conceived because law enforcement officials "hoped the weapons, after they were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, could be traced and linked to cartel operatives including possible high-level financiers, suppliers, and possibly even king-pins."
From Issa's memorandum:
Fast and Furious Conceived
The ATF Phoenix Field Division began Operation Fast and Furious in the fall of 2009 after suspicious weapons purchases led agents to the discovery of an apparent Phoenix-based arms trafficking syndicate. Having been encouraged to devise grander strategies to stop the transfers of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, the Phoenix based agents devised a strategy that went beyond simple arrests or weapons confiscations. They would allow the U.S.-based associates of a Mexican drug cartel to continue acquiring firearms uninterrupted. In doing so, they hoped the weapons, after they were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, could be traced and linked to cartel operatives including possible high-level financiers, suppliers, and possibly even king-pins.
The operation sought to achieve its lofty goals by focusing on the ringleader of the weapons smuggling syndicate they had identified: Manuel Celis-Acosta. Celis-Acosta was using a then-unknown number of straw-purchasers, including Jamie Avila, to purchase weapons.
At no point in the 17-page memo or accompanying 44-page draft contempt citation against Holder did Issa assert that the program may have had a different, more nefarious purpose.
On May 15, Cam Edwards, host of Cam & Company on NRA News, hosted conservative commentator and Pajamas Media contributor Bill Whittle to discuss what Whittle termed "the demasculinization of men, the feminization of men, and the wimpification of men." Whittle concluded his thoughts by explaining that he is "genuinely disturbed" about the presence of "women butt-kickers in movies" like Scarlet Johansson in The Avengers, because instead of thinking they can fight large men women should be buying guns. Edwards could not agree more:
BILL WHITTLE, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I am dealing with the pop culture. I'm in the film business out here. So what I'm dealing with is, I'm dealing with the source of hypnotism. What I mean by that is, I think the politics is downstream of culture. I think when people go to the movies and they sit there they are fundamentally hypnotized. You go to a horror movie, let's say, right, and you're scared out of your wits, but you're sitting in an air-conditioned building, you're surrounded by other people, you know there is no monster there, but you're still terrified. And so when the movies project to the American people this Woody Allen kind of ideal of kind of weakness and kind of "I'm going to issue a snappy comeback as I run for the hills and leave everybody to the bad guys." Well people to begin to think that's what's expected. While we both just talked a moment ago about heroism and women, one thing I am really genuinely disturbed about, you see this all over the place, are these kind of women butt-kickers in movies. Scarlett Johansson who is, you know, she's probably five foot four and maybe she weighs 110 pounds soaking wet taking down these 250 pound guys with karate chops and stuff.
CAM EDWARDS, HOST: Right.
WHITTLE: It's like bad things are going to happen if people think this is going to happen in the real world. Because number one, girls are going to get themselves badly hurt, and number two, when guys see movies about young girls, and young women doing all these physical moves in these wild kind of defense things, it takes away that fundamental inhibition that has been drilled into boys my age, and your age too, and that is you never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever hit a girl. Ever ever ever. When young boys go to movies and see girls doing all this butt-kicking and taking down all these guys, number one, girls think they are going to get away with that, there is not going to be an outcome where a 100 pound girl physically punches a 210 pound guy with a happy outcome for the girl. That's why you have guns.
EDWARDS: Absolutely. Absolutely right.
Beyond the sexist implications of Whittle's thoughts on what women can and can't do, this has to be one of the strangest ways that the National Rifle Association has highlighted the need to own a gun.
In a May 14 op-ed for The Hill, Fox News correspondent Juan Williams decried politicization of the investigation of the ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious and labeled House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's inquiry into Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice (DOJ) a "monstrous witch hunt."
Williams' comments are in stark contrast to his network's coverage of the issue, which over the past year has promoted Issa's investigation at every turn while also giving airtime to those who would peddle conspiracy theories about the failed operation.
In his op-ed, Williams describes Issa as a modern day Captain Ahab, hell-bent on finding fault in Holder for Fast and Furious no matter how thin the evidence is suggesting that he had any involvement in the operation. According to Williams, the ultimate goal of Issa's inquiry is to "defame Holder and hurt the president." Warning about the potential consequences of Issa's contempt proceeding endgame, he concluded:
At the moment more than 100 House Republicans have already signed on to a resolution expressing no confidence in Holder.
That kind of politics is acceptable.
But a contempt citation for the top law enforcement official is a monstrosity breaking apart public trust and dragging the nation's already polarized politics to the bottom of the sea.
While Williams may be disturbed by the direction in which Issa's investigation is going, the truth is that his employer, Fox News, has served as a clearinghouse for politicized statements about Fast and Furious for over a year. In the last month alone, Issa and two of his lieutenants (Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz) have appeared on Fox News at least nine times to promote their investigation into Fast and Furious.