The Daily Caller's headline: "Holder's No. 2 in 2009: Gunwalking, Fast and Furious a 'terrific idea.'"
The Daily Caller's lede:
The head of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division and Attorney General Eric Holder's highest-ranking deputy, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, called Operation Fast and Furious and gun walking a "terrific idea" in emails to now-former Acting Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Ken Melson back in late 2009, according a report released by Republican staff of the House Oversight Committee.
What Melson and Breuer actually said, as reported by the Daily Caller:
On Dec. 3, 2009, Melson wrote to Breuer, "Lanny: We have decided to take a little different approach with regard to seizures of multiple weapons in Mexico. Assuming the guns are traced, instead of working each trace almost independently of the other traces from the seizure, I want to coordinate and monitor the work on all of them collectively as if the seizure was one case. . . We should meet again just to catch up on where we are in our gun-trafficking issues and we could talk about the above idea as well. Let me know what you think."
Breuer responded on Dec. 4, 2009, writing, "We think this is a terrific idea and a great way to approach the investigations of these seizures. Our Gang Unit will be assigning an attorney to help you coordinate this effort."
According to the Republican Oversight Committee staffers' report, Breuer -- Holder's number two -- assigned a prosecutor to help ATF handle Fast and Furious. That attorney, according to the report, was Joe Cooley.
As the Daily Caller's own reporting shows, the emails in question don't mention the idea of allowing guns to be trafficked to Mexico; they deal with how data from seizures of multiple weapons that were recovered in Mexico would be treated by ATF in their investigations.
This isn't the first time the Caller's reporting hasn't matched up with the slant they apply to their stories on Holder and Fast and Furious.
By the way, "Holder's No. 2" isn't Lanny Breuer, it's Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Other than that, the Caller did a bang-up job.
Is there any national tragedy the National Rifle Association won't exploit to make a buck?
Last year the NRA marked the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks by sending its members two separate fundraising emails referencing the terrorist strikes. Over the weekend the NRA continued the trend, marking the anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster by encouraging their members to buy NRA-brand products from the NRAstore.com. Quoting President John F. Kennedy's words over a photo spread of the assassinated president and the shuttle, the NRA told their members, "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it."
Then the email proceeds try to unload some the NRA's "Pursue Freedom" products in the hope that Americans are willing to pay for them as well. Now you too can "Pursue Freedom of Buckle Choices" with a selection of official "NRA Western Tooled Belts."
Much like the NRA store's 9-11 fundraising effort the recent email shows real-life images of fiery explosions seen by millions of Americans above advertisements for NRA branded mugs, clothing and other various trinkets.
The Daily Caller's Guns and Gear section recently featured two op-eds authored by retired Major General Jerry Curry. In previous statements Curry has raised questions about President Obama secretly being a Muslim, demanded that Obama release his long-form birth certificate or resign, and derided Muslims as inherently violent.
The Daily Caller is currently running an "urgent poll" on its website asking its readers if the United States should "sign on to the UN gun ban."
There's just one problem: there is no "UN gun ban." While the right-wing media and theNational Rifle Association have consistently fearmongered over a proposed UN Arms Trade Treaty, there is no evidence their dark claims will come to pass. In December, the Daily Caller launched a "Guns and Gear" section, featuring content and advertising largely provided by the NRA.
The treaty in question seeks to regulate international arms deals to prevent weapons trafficking to human rights violators; the U.N. General Assembly's resolution on the treaty makes clear that countries will "exclusively" maintain the authority within their borders to "regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership." The goal of U.S. negotiators is get other countries to agree to follow import and export rules that the U.S. already has already instituted.
The Daily Caller promises to "share the poll results with major media outlets across the country," but it's unlikely that such outlets would be interested with the results of an unscientific online poll that features a flagrantly inaccurate description of the proposed treaty. The more likely purpose of the exercise is likely to allow the Caller to harvest its readers' email addresses, the submission of which is required to see the poll's results.
In a press release announcing the launch of its Guns and Gear section, Caller publisher and CEO Neil Patel criticized the media as "hopelessly out of touch with American values and interests" for not providing news coverage to "[t]he millions of Americans who own and are interested in guns." But now it appears that the publication is happy to treat those millions as rubes, playing to their fears pushing gun lobby nonsense in order to get their email addresses.
Long discredited gun researcher John Lott recently took to FoxNews.com to push for weakened restrictions on carrying concealed guns. Not surprisingly Lott again uses distorted anecdotes to support the gun lobby favored National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act. In fact, the same examples Lott cites to suggest gun laws are unreasonably punitive and inflexible actually show that even in states where gun charges can lead to stiff penalties, prosecutors have used discretion to avoid excessive punishments.
The legislation in question would force any state that issues its residents permits to carry concealed guns to accept the concealed-carry permits of all the other states -- no matter how weak the standards for getting a permit in those states. Several law enforcement associations have spoken out against the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act suggesting it would "endanger" police officers and "compromise public safety."
Lott focuses on two prominent cases where travelers to New York were arrested on gun charges. In both cases the individuals had concealed carry permits from their home states that were not valid in New York, and were voluntarily seeking to check their guns with authorities. Standards to carry concealed guns vary among states and states like New York with stronger restrictions sometimes don't accept permits from other states with less stringent restrictions. Lott's inaccurate description of these cases largely serves to falsely create the appearance that without concealed carry reciprocity, New York guns laws result in long jail terms for accidental offenders without consideration of possible mitigating factors.
Just a few days before Christmas, Meredith Graves made a mistake that could end her medical career and send her to prison for at least 3 ½ years. The 39-year-old fourth-year medical student was carrying a permitted concealed handgun when she saw the sign at the 9/11 Memorial saying "No guns allowed." She did the responsible thing and asked a security guard where she could check her weapon. Unfortunately, while her Tennessee concealed carry license is recognized in 40 states, New York isn't one of them. Meredith was arrested.
Just a week earlier, Californian Mark Meckler told LaGuardia Airport officials that he had licensed handgun in a locked safe in checked baggage. At virtually any other airport in the country, checking a gun locked in a box wouldn't be a problem. Meckler was arrested and charged with second-degree possession of an illegal weapons. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the local District Attorneys don't seem interested in showing mercy. They take a zero tolerance approach towards these mistakes.
However, four days before Lott's opinion piece was published, Meckler reached a plea agreement allowing him to pay a $250 fine for disorderly conduct with the gun charge conditionally dropped if Meckler stays out of trouble for a year.
A spokesman for the New York Port Authority police also challenged the suggestion that Meckler's violation was exclusively related to bringing the gun to the airport saying, "It's not a case that Mr. Meckler was in transit. He was in New York for several days having that weapon illegally. The bottom line is he violated the law."
The details of Graves' case doesn't support Lott's depiction of New York prosecutors taking a zero tolerance approach to honest mistakes either.
While her case hasn't been resolved yet, six days before Lott's piece was published The New York Post reported that Manhattan prosecutors were trying to work out a plea deal with Graves that according to sources cited by the paper could include no jail time. New York prosecutors also showed discretion in the case of a Maryland man accused of illegal gun possession, working out a deal in exchange for a misdemeanor plea involving no jail time earlier this month.
These cases show that when concealed carry permit holders from other states violate New York's laws unintentionally, there are already mechanisms in place to shield them from serious punitive action, without the passage of dramatic new national legislation.
During a recent interview with National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, Glenn Beck wondered if the NRA would be able to raise the money to effectively launch political attacks against President Obama in 2012. Not surprisingly, LaPierre was confident the NRA would be able to fund a 2012 campaign blitz. Depicting unions as a political counter weight to the gun lobby, Beck asked LaPierre how the NRA could hope to match campaign spending by unions:
BECK: You have to go out and drum up the money, the unions just take it. They just have it. They just take it out of everybody's paycheck.
LAPIERRE: We raise it all through 5, 10, 15, 20 dollar contributions that Americans are willing to preserve freedom. And they're willing to support it. But, you know, that's what NRA is about. I mean, I always say we're about our membership and we're about giving voice to our membership.
There's no doubt that as in previous election cycles, the NRA will be able to funnel tens of millions of dollars towards their favored candidates, but LaPierre's claim that the NRA's fundraising is based exclusively on small dollar donations is false. The reality is that under LaPierre's leadership, the NRA has built extensive financial ties to the gun industry and other corporations. These arrangements have netted the NRA tens of millions dollars according to a recent Bloomberg News account and the gun companies funneling cash into the NRA's coffers have greatly benefited from the NRA's lobbying efforts. One former president of the NRA credited NRA-backed legislation that limited the legal liability of gun makers with saving "the American gun industry from bankruptcy."
The NRA pitches itself as a low-dollar, grassroots organization -- an annual membership currently costs $35 -- and maintains it is "not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition." However, the NRA has formally established many lucrative arrangements with "corporate partners."
Last April, the Violence Policy Center issued a report, titled Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bank Rolls the NRA, which details these intimate ties between the gun industry and the NRA. From Blood Money:
Since 2005, corporations--gun related and other--have contributed between $19.8 million and $52.6 million to the NRA as detailed in its Ring of Freedom corporate giving program. In a promotional brochure for the program, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre promises that the "National Rifle Association's newly expanded Corporate Partners Program is an opportunity for corporations to partner with the NRA....This program is geared toward your company's corporate interests."
From the January 13 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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On January 11, Fox Nation and right-wing blog Weasel Zippers highlighted a video of Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker outlining the details of a Newark gun control program to fearmonger that people would be "turn[ed] in" for "owning a gun."
The program, called Gun Stoppers, offers a reward of up to $1,000 for residents who provide information leading to an arrest for a gun-related crime. After Weasel Zippers posted the video of Booker under the headline, "Newark, NJ Mayor: Turn In Your Neighbor For Owning A Gun...Get $1,000 Reward," Fox Nation quickly followed suit:
But the headline used by both blogs is incredibly misleading. The program does not reward Newark residents for "turn[ing] in your neighbor for owning a gun." It rewards residents for providing information leading to arrests related to cases of illegal gun possession or gun-related crimes -- a fact made abundantly clear in the video, in which Booker says, "If you know someone carrying an illegal gun, give us the information and get the money."
Last week, teenage mother Sarah McKinley used a shotgun to shoot and kill a home intruder in defense of her infant son. The case made national news after the media obtained the audio of her call to 911, in which she asked the operator for permission to fire.
It didn't take long for the National Rifle Association supporters in the right-wing media to deploy her harrowing experience as a cudgel against their political foes. Here'sNational Review editor Rich Lowry in his latest column:
Instances of self-defense are the anecdotes that gun controllers never want to hear. The NRA keeps a running list of them on its website: attempted armed robberies, home invasions, and other attacks rebuffed every month by the would-be victims. Surely, Sarah McKinley's assailants thought the young, slender, widowed mother was an easy mark. Her shotgun meant they were wrong. Who would have it any other way? Otherwise, the intruder has the knife and she has nothing except a cellphone and the wan hope that someone armed with a gun makes it to her in time.
Lowry's question is revealing, largely because he doesn't bother to attempt to name any of the "gun controllers" who wouldn't want McKinley to be able to defend herself.
Major gun violence prevention groups are upfront about their support for law-abiding citizens to be able to keep firearms for their own protection. Here's what the website of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says:
We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to buy and keep firearms. And we believe there are sensible gun laws that we can and should insist upon when it comes to gun ownership.
And here's Mayors Against Illegal Guns:
We support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law. And we know that a policy that is appropriate for a small town in one region of the country is not necessarily appropriate for a big city in another region of the country.
The NRA's "running list" of self-defense anecdotes to which Lowry refers exists simply to push the myth that "gun controllers" don't want law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves.
Back in September, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre drew ridicule after claiming the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to take no action on gun control in his first term, get reelected, and then "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights."
What the "Obama not coming after your guns is really evidence of his desire to come after your guns" thesis lacks in accuracy or logic it makes up for in convenience. The NRA's "massive Obama conspiracy" justifies the need to help them raise contributions and encourage people to buy more guns.
It's no surprise the NRA's election year message is starting to spread to their faithful allies at Fox.
During a segment last night on Fox Business' Follow the Money, guests Bo Dietl and Lars Larson agreed that the reason gun sales have supposedly seen a "dramatic increase" is because of this fear that if Obama is re-elected "they're going to go after your guns." Of course, since gun manufacturers heavily contribute to the NRA, this fear helps the organization as well.
Former National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Ray Arnet once said, "You keep any special interest group alive by nurturing the crisis atmosphere." The organization has long taken this sentiment to heart. For years, the NRA has warned that nationwide gun bans and confiscation were right around the corner. These threats made up in hysterical rhetoric for what they lacked in credibility.
Arnet's comments demonstrate why the organization has adopted such a dishonest strategy. To sustain its $200-million-plus annual budget, the organization relies upon donations from both its members and the gun industry; constant fearmongering boosts donations from both. By working their members into a frenzy, they can better convince them to financially support the NRA and thus stave off that dark future.
The effort also encourages existing gun owners to purchase more firearms in case such laws are actually passed; new sales to current gun owners are essential to the gun industry given that the number of households owning a gun is in long term decline. Terrifying gun owners bolsters gun sales, which in turn keeps the gun industry profitable enough to direct more funds back to the NRA.
But sometimes, your run-of-the-mill fearmongering just isn't enough. In 2011 the NRA repeatedly turned to one of their favorite weapons to keep alive this crisis atmosphere justifying their extremist political agenda and their own existence: conspiracy theories. Below, Media Matters documents a few of our favorites of the year.
Fox host Eric Bolling frequently allows his programs to degenerate into gun-related antics. In the last month alone, he has repeatedly urged guests to brandish firearms on-air, defended a gun club that allows families to take pictures with Santa and assault weapons, posed with a sign depicting a handgun and the phrase, "Obama's War On Christmas," and on at least seven occasions referenced taking his 13-year-old shooting.
From the December 21 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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Charlie Savage's New York Times profile of Attorney General Eric Holder and how he has become a "lightning rod" for partisan criticism must have seemed like an early Christmas present to The Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle: It lets him accuse The New York Times of bias and attack Holder in one fell swoop.
It was clearly so exciting that he didn't bother to put together even a minimal arrangement of facts before suggesting the Times should issue a retraction.
Boyle suggests that Savage inaccurately reported that neither testimony nor documents have contradicted Holder's statements that he didn't know about the controversial 'gunwalking' tactic used in Operation Fast and Furious. In fact, just as Savage reported, there has not been any documents or testimony that suggest Holder knew about those tactics.
"Mr. Holder has denounced the tactics used in the operation, known as 'gunwalking,' but said he did not know about them or sanction their use," Savage wrote. "No documents or testimony have shown otherwise, but Republicans have pummeled him at oversight hearings and in news media appearances."
Savage made these statements without attribution.
Despite those assertions, Holder's office was provided with multiple briefings and memos about Operation Fast and Furious by top Justice Department officials. The memos contained intimate details of how Holder's DOJ allowed guns to walk.
The claim is specific: neither documents or testimony have shown that Holder himself knew about gunwalking tactics.
It seems that this year's effort to wage war against Christmas will be better armed than usual.
The National Rifle Association's website is currently featuring a "Happy Holidays" message from NRA radio hosts Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone and "the entire NRA News team."
This follows an email fundraising missive from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox, who offered his "best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season" before asking for donations to stop "four more years of President Barack Obama imposing his anti-freedom values on the American people."