Guns

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  • NRA And Right-Wing Media Cover For GOP-Led Vote To Allow People With Severe Mental Illness Buy Guns

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    After Republicans led a vote in the House of Representatives to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive action preventing some severely mentally ill Social Security recipients from purchasing a firearm members of conservative media, particularly those with ties to the National Rifle Association, falsely labeled the regulation a “gun grab.” They claimed the Obama administration had deemed any recipient receiving financial aid “mentally deficient” and stripped them of “due process,” even though the regulation covers only 75,000 severely mentally ill individuals and has a due process component allowing for an appeal. 

  • Town Of Newtown, CT, Calls On Trump To Sever Ties With Sandy Hook Truther Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Los Angeles Times reported parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting believe Donald Trump is “nurturing the culture of exaggeration and paranoia” that leads conspiracy theorists to harass them, by not publicly denouncing Alex Jones.

    After noting “President Trump and his national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn, have been open enthusiasts of Alex Jones’ Infowars,” which promotes the baseless conspiracy theory “that Sandy Hook was staged by Democrats to advance a gun control agenda,” the L.A. Times reported “The town of Newtown is drafting an official letter to the White House demanding that Trump sever his ties to Jones.”

    The L.A. Times quotes an excerpt of this letter, which states “Jones repeatedly tells his listeners and viewers that he has your ears and your respect. He brags about how you called him after your victory in November. Emboldened by your victory, he continues to hurt the memories of those lost, the ability of those left behind to heal”:

    If there is anything worse than losing a child, it is losing a child and having people taunt you over the loss.

    That is what happened to the family of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old with tousled brown hair and lollipop-red lips, the youngest of the 26 children and staff members gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

    In the years since the massacre that shook the country and opened new anxiety over gun violence, the family has received hate-filled calls and violent emails from people who say they know the shooting was a hoax. Photos of their son — some with pornographic and anti-Semitic content — have been distributed on websites.

    [...]

    President Trump and his national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn, have been open enthusiasts of Alex Jones’ Infowars, a Web-based radio and video network that has relentlessly pushed the theory that Sandy Hook was staged by Democrats to advance a gun control agenda.

    An unabashed Trump supporter during the campaign, Jones says he received a personal call of thanks from the president-elect days after the election.

    Although Trump has not spoken publicly about Sandy Hook, many residents here say he is nurturing the culture of exaggeration and paranoia on which conspiracy theorists thrive.

    [...]

    The town of Newtown is drafting an official letter to the White House demanding that Trump sever his ties to Jones.

    “Jones repeatedly tells his listeners and viewers that he has your ears and your respect. He brags about how you called him after your victory in November. Emboldened by your victory, he continues to hurt the memories of those lost, the ability of those left behind to heal,” reads an excerpt of the letter that was shared recently with the news media.

    Family members who lost children at Sandy Hook say they find themselves twice victimized.

    [...]

    “This cloud of disinformation and misinformation and fake news has been harmful to the community,’’ said Patricia Llodra, a Republican selectwoman for Newtown. “I’m not an angry person, but when I think about the hurtful things these hoaxers say, I want to ask, ‘How could you? How dare you question the pain that these families experience every day.’”
     

    The L.A. Times’ report follows Alex Jones’ prior attacks on the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, who had asked Trump to not appear on Jones’ radio show. Jones responded to this request by repeatedly defending his promotion of Sandy Hook conspiracies.

  • Exciting The Right Wing, Trump Downplays Threat Of Right-Wing Terror

    Neo-Nazis Celebrate: "Donald Trump Is Setting Us Free"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Just days after Canada suffered a deadly gun massacre at the hands of a homegrown, right-wing radical who opened fired on praying Muslims, the Trump administration is moving to downplay the threat of homegrown, right-wing radicals in the United States.

    Coming in the wake of Trump’s controversial decision to sign an executive order temporarily barring individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, Reuters this week reported that the Trump administration would direct a government-run program called Countering Violent Extremism to change its name to Countering Islamic Extremism or Countering Radical Islamic Extremism. In doing so, the program “would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.” (The FBI and the Justice Department will still track hate crimes and prosecute homegrown terrorists.)

    Downgrading the scrutiny given to right-wing radicals has long been a goal of conservative media in America. Now Trump is moving to turn that desire into policy.

    Back in 2015, Fox News’ Eric Bolling was part of a chorus of conservative media voices who denounced a Department of Homeland Security report that warned about violence from “right-wing sovereign citizen extremists." Bolling insisted there weren’t any examples of far-right attacks in the U.S., while his colleague Greg Gutfeld offered there had been just two in “over four decades.”

    But the DHS report, produced in conjunction with the FBI, clearly documented 24 violent, right-wing domestic attacks that took place between 2010 and 2014.

    “A survey last year of state and local law enforcement officers listed sovereign citizen terrorists, ahead of foreign Islamists, and domestic militia groups as the top domestic terror threat,” CNN reported at the time.

    Concurrently, a 2015 report from the New America Foundation found that of the 28 deadly homegrown terror attacks since 9/11, 18 were incidents inspired by right-wing extremism, while 10 were inspired by Islamic extremism. 

    Dr. John Horgan of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell told The New York Times that year, “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown. And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.”

    But some on the “alt-right” were furious over the government’s 2015 report. "It really is the most egregious politicization of national security," Breitbart’s Sebastian Gorka insisted during a Fox News appearance. “We're going to be looking for right-wing extremists when ISIS prepares to attack us? It's outrageous."

    Gorka has since been hired by the Trump White House and serves as deputy assistant to the president. 

    Meanwhile, white supremacists continue to express their deep appreciation for President Trump and his administration's plan to radically change the CVE program. “My hands are shaking right now as I prepare this article – I’m just that unbelievably happy,” announced neo-Nazi website Infostormer. “This measure would be the first step to us going fully mainstream, and beginning the process of entering the government in full-force without the fear of being attacked, financially-assailed, and intimidated into silence by the nefarious Jews.”

    At neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, editor Andrew Anglin announced to readers, “Donald Trump is setting us free.” He continued, “This is absolutely a signal of favor to us. We are not a threat to America, we are American patriots trying to save this country. It is also a slap in the face to the kikes of the SPLC and the ADL who pushed for us to be classified along with actual Islamic terrorists as a way to legally justify outrageous abuses against us by the federal government.” (In the same article, Anglin called the actions of white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof, who was recently sentenced to death for massacring African American worshipers at a church, "silly" but "perfectly understandable if you put it in context.") 

    This remains the hard truth: From neo-Nazi killers, to a string of women’s health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government radicals, acts of right-wing extreme violence led by self-described revolutionaries continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a running tally of confirmed radical-right terror plots. Its most recent entry was from October 14, 2016:

    Three members of a southwest Kansas militia dubbed “The Crusaders” are arrested after an eight-month investigation on charges stemming from a plot to attack a housing complex in Garden City, Kansas, that houses a mosque... The attack was planned for the day after the 2016 general election. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the men had repeatedly referred to Somalis as “cockroaches.”

    That looming, present danger drives the conservative media, and the emerging alt-right media, to distraction. Simultaneously obsessed with pushing that idea that Islamic terrorists are pouring across America’s borders, while insisting domestic, far-right extremists pose no real danger, the right-wing media regularly attack the government for its interest (until now) in tracking homegrown terrorists of all ideologies.

    In 2009, they tried to sabotage a report released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis that warned law enforcement agencies how “right-wing extremist groups” might be out recruiting members in the wake of the first black president being elected.

    Then too, there was a coordinated, hysterical reaction from the conservative media, which wildly misconstrued a report about skinheads and white supremacist terror groups to claim the Obama administration was trying to criminalize conservatives who opposed the new president.

    In truth, CNN reported the study was actually “produced by staff members during the Bush administration,” and not released until early 2009. The report focused on "rightwing extremists," "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups," "terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks," and "white supremacists," making it abundantly clear the government was not targeting mainstream political activists.

    Of note in that the 2009 report was the fact that right-wing recruitment in the U.S. had previously spiked during the 1990s, “but subsided after increased scrutiny by the government following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings,” which were masterminded by right-wing domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh.

    Today, with the threat of homegrown, radical-right extremists still looming, the Trump administration is doing the opposite and following the Fox News lead. Rather than increasing scrutiny, it’s proposing to scale it back.

  • A White Man Allegedly Murdered 6 People At A Mosque, But Fox News Is Still Identifying A Moroccan As A Suspect

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    UPDATE:

    Fox News has deleted its tweet labeling a suspect in the shooting as being "of Moroccan origin." Earlier today, Kate Purchase, Director of Communications for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, called on the network to "either retract or update" its false claim. 

    Twenty-four hours later, Fox News still has not corrected its erroneous tweet that a suspect in the mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City is “of Moroccan origin.” The suspect is actually a French Canadian man named Alexandre Bissonnette who is described in one news report “as an online troll who was inspired by extreme right-wing French nationalists, stood up for U.S. President Donald Trump and was against immigration to Quebec -- especially by Muslims.”

    During the evening of January 29, a gunman entered the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center and opened fire, killing six people and wounding eight others. Police initially arrested two suspects in the attack: Bissonnette and Mohamed Belkhadir, who is of Moroccan descent.

    What happened next exemplifies Fox News’ tendency to try to pin the blame for high-profile acts of violence on entire communities -- but only when doing so suits the outlet’s conservative world view. Here’s a brief timeline:

    At 12:05 and 12:06 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 30, Quebec police released two tweets indicating that only one of the arrested individuals was a suspect, and that the other is considered a witness to the attack:

    At 12:31 p.m., Fox News issued its erroneous tweet, claiming, “Suspect in Quebec mosque terror attack was of Moroccan origin, reports show.” It is noteworthy that at the time the tweet was sent, Bissonnette’s identity had also been leaked to the press, but Fox News made no reference on Twitter to the French Canadian, who was a bona fide suspect:

    This mistake would have been easy to correct. Given developments in the story that clearly identified Bissonnette as a suspect and Belkhadir as a witness, Fox News could have issued a new tweet with accurate information along with a note saying that it would delete the inaccurate earlier report.

    Instead, hours later, Fox News responded to its initial tweet with two identical tweets that failed to clarify the earlier mistake. At 6:12 and 6:14 p.m., Fox wrote on Twitter, “@FoxNews Mosque attack suspect formally charged w/ six counts of murder; Second man cleared, identified as a witness”

    At best, this update fails to clarify that the Moroccan individual is no longer a suspect in the shooting: It indicates that a “second man” was “cleared” without saying who that man is.

    At worst, the update makes it seem as if the Moroccan man had subsequently been charged with murder. Imagine relying on Fox’s Twitter account as a sole source of information on who police believe perpetrated the shooting. First, there is a “suspect” who is “of Moroccan origin.” Second, the “suspect” has been charged with murder, while another man has been “cleared” and identified as a witness.

    And as a practical matter, Fox News’ response likely did little to stop the spread of misinformation. The update was sent more than six hours later. While the initial erroneous report was retweeted more than 900 times, the two identical follow-up tweets were retweeted fewer than 140 times.

    But there is a larger, more troubling context to Fox News’ mistake and the outlet’s subsequent failure to set the record straight.

    The shooting took place just days after President Donald Trump created a national firestorm by signing an executive order temporarily barring individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. While many condemned the order as discriminatory, contrary to American values, and unconstitutional, others, including people within the Trump administration, view the order as a first step, saying it should or will be expanded to other Muslim-majority countries. In this context, it would be especially important for Fox News to correct an erroneous report that labels a person from Morocco, a majority-Muslim country, as the suspect in an act of apparent terrorism.

    Fox’s actions also have implications in terms of the network's tendency to use high-profile shootings to play a collective blame game. When high-profile tragedies occur, Fox News is quick to scapegoat entire communities if doing so aligns with a conservative agenda. When Islamic extremism is the motivation for terrorist acts or African-Americans are accused of killing police officers, those communities are condemned as a whole on Fox News. When white suspects are accused of killing police officers or terrorism is motivated by right-wing extremism, Fox News goes silent.

    In the case of the Quebec mosque shooting, Fox News was clearly getting ready to play the collective blame game. At the time of Fox’s erroneous tweet, both Belkhadir and Bissonnette’s names had leaked, but Fox News focused on only the Moroccan “suspect.” Now that there is no Moroccan suspect -- only a white, right-wing, Trump-supporting French Canadian suspect -- we can expect to stop hearing from Fox about this tragedy and what broader implications it might portend.

  • NRATV Host: Trump's Immigration Ban "Is About Religion" Because "All Radicalized Terrorists Are Muslim"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Days after President Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring immigration from seven majority Muslim countries, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield said the ban “is about religion” because “all radicalized terrorists are Muslim.”

    During the January 30 broadcast of National Rifle Association’s live news program, Stinchfield repeatedly praised Trump’s executive order and called for the ban to be expanded to more Muslim majority countries.

    During one update, Stinchfield said he refuses to call the executive order a “Muslim ban,” because it doesn’t include every majority Muslim country, but conceded that it “is about religion,” before falsely claiming that “all radicalized terrorists are Muslims”: 

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): It is not a Muslim ban at all, there are 40 other countries, majority Muslim countries that people can still emigrate here from. Now I will tell you what this is about, it is about religion. It’s about radical Islamic terrorists. Not all Muslims are radicalized, but all radicalized terrorists are Muslims. And that is an important distinction that the left does not want to think about. The left does not want to even acknowledge the fact that radical jihadists want to come to the United States and blow us up. They would like nothing more than to march us out onto the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, or the Pacific, kneel us down and lopp our heads off. But they want to coddle the people coming here, hoping that they’re not terrorists. We cannot hope that they are not terrorists. We must ensure that they are not terrorists.

    All “radicalized terrorists” are not Muslim. One would only have to look at one of the worst terror attacks in U.S. history, the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. That attack, which killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more, was carried out by right-wing gun extremist Timothy McVeigh.

    As explained by a September 2016 Vox article, because “not one domestic terrorist attack since 9/11 has been committed by a foreign terrorist organization,” recent terror attacks have been exclusively carried out by domestic terrorists.

    The article highlighted how 10 of the 28 deadly homegrown terrorist attacks since 9/11 were related to Islamic extremism, with the rest being carried out by right-wing extremists. With his claim that “all” terrorists are Muslims, Stinchfield ignored 18 other attacks committed by right-wing extremists, including the recent mass shootings in an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, and at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, CO. 

  • Donald Trump Threatens To “Send In The Feds” Into Chicago In Response To Bill O’Reilly Segment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump appears to be proposing policy responses to a segment from Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on the violence in Chicago. Trump announced on Twitter that he will "send in the Feds" to respond to the "carnage" in Chicago. Trump's tweet included statistics that were used in a graphic from O'Reilly's show and referenced statements made by O’Reilly during the segment.

    During the January 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly discussed the violence in Chicago, asking, “can President Trump override local Illinois and Chicago authorities, and stop the murder?”

    BILL O'REILLY (HOST): And in the Impact Segment tonight, the violence in Chicago getting worse, if you can believe it. The first 23 days of this year, 42 homicides in the Windy City, up 24 percent from last year. An unbelievable 228 people have been shot and Chicago in 23 days. While campaigning last July, Donald Trump said this.

    [...]

    The question is, can President Trump override local Illinois and Chicago authorities, and stop the murder? Joining us now from Washington, Horace Cooper, an attorney that specializes in federal law. So, can he go in? And Cook County is where Chicago is located. Everybody says the same thing, gun crimes are not prosecuted aggressively, the sentences are way too low, the gang thing is getting worse, the mayor of Chicago has no clue, the governor of Illinois doesn't want to do anything about it, so can the feds go in and stop this?

    HORACE COOPER: Well absolutely the feds can do this. And as you’ve pointed out there has been a wholesale failure on the part of the state and local communities to address this really serious problem. I don’t know another word besides carnage to describe the devastation that’s been taking place.

    The segment included on-air graphics of Chicago's violence so far in 2017.

    In what appears to be a response to O'Reilly's segment, Trump mimicked O’Reilly’s language in a tweet about an hour later noting that Chicago has had 228 shootings and 42 murders so far in 2017. And in what appears to be a reference to Horace Cooper, Trump called the violence "carnage," claiming that "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' ... I will send in the Feds!"

  • NRATV Co-Host: Time To Scrub "Obama's Mocacchino Stain" Off America 

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Just two days after President Trump’s inauguration, Chuck Holton, co-host of NRATV’s Frontlines, wrote on Twitter that the “party’s over” and it's time to scrub “Obama’s mocacchino stain off of America!”

    “Mocacchino” is a term for a chocolate coffee drink -- and, in this case, an apparent reference to the former president’s race.

    Launched by the National Rifle Association in late October 2016 with the mission of providing “the most comprehensive video coverage of Second Amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world,” NRATV has largely served as a pro-Trump propaganda outlet.

    As part of NRATV’s programming schedule, Holton co-hosts the military-themed show Frontlines alongside Fox News contributor Oliver North.

    Holton has a history of making racially insensitive and sexist commentary. In a 2015 column for the NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom, Holton attacked a State Department spokeswoman as "spokesperson barbie (sic)," and described her as one of various "clueless, poorly accessorized mouthpieces." During an August 2016 appearance on the NRA radio program Cam & Company, Holton referred to “white privilege” as “simply the culture that we have created, that our fathers and grandfathers have work hard to create” while lobbing numerous attacks against the black community.

    The January 22 tweet was also not Holton’s first inflammatory attack on Obama. On November 16, the NRATV co-host responded to a picture on Twitter of Obama and Trump shaking hands by calling the then-president a “pussy.” 

  • NRATV: Martin Luther King Jr. "Would Be Ashamed Of John Lewis"

    NRATV Employees Use MLK Day To Bash Lewis As “Anti-American,” “Unpatriotic,” And “A Threat To Democracy”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield accused Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis of “race-bait[ing]” and claimed King “would be ashamed” of him after Rep. Lewis (D-GA) said he would not attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

    Lewis said he plans to skip the inauguration, explaining that he believes Russian interference helped get Trump elected and that he is not a “legitimate president.” Two days before MLK Day, Trump wrote a series of tweets attacking the congressman, suggesting he “focus on the burning and crime infested inner cities of the U.S.” and calling him “all talk, talk, talk -- no actions or results.” Lewis, who marched with King in Selma, AL, and led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, is largely revered as a civil rights hero.

    During the January 16 edition of the National Rifle Association’s NRATV Live Updates with Grant Stinchfield, Stinchfield claimed that in “the decades since Lewis” marched with the civil rights leader, he has “forgotten what Dr. King stood for.” Stinchfield questioned why the congressman continues to “divide this nation” and said that is not what “Martin Luther King was about”:  

    GRANT STINCHFIELD: (HOST): Today, on Martin Luther King Day, I believe Dr. King would be ashamed of John Lewis. I’m saddened to say that because Lewis marched with Dr. King. But apparently the decades since Lewis has marched with Dr. King, he’s forgotten what Dr. King stood for: freedom. Freedom for all Americans, even Americans you disagree with.

    [...]

    STINCHFIELD: You want to talk about freedom? We had freedom to elect the leader that we wanted, to serve America, to lead our military, to fight for what we believe in. Things that maybe he doesn’t believe in. But I ask you this, John Lewis, why do you call Donald Trump a racist? Why do you race-bait? Why do you follow the lead of Barack Obama and continue to divide this nation? That is not what Martin Luther King was about.

    During an interview with NRATV commentator Dana Loesch that same day, Stinchfield admitted that Lewis is a “civil rights hero,” but he called his refusal to attend the inauguration “anti-American,” “unpatriotic,” and “sad.” Loesch agreed that Lewis is a civil rights “icon,” but she called his comments “unfortunate” and “a threat to democracy”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Yesterday on Meet the Press, John Lewis, the congressman who really is a civil rights hero, comes out and he says that Donald Trump’s presidency is illegitimate. He is doing this to delegitimize Trump’s entire presidency, I think it's anti-American, it's unpatriotic, and it's sad coming from a guy -- especially today, it's Martin Luther King Day, Lewis is a guy who marched with Martin Luther King. I think it's sad.

    DANA LOESCH (NRATV COMMENTATOR): I think it is as well, and while I believe that Lewis is a civil rights icon, it's unfortunate that he chose to behave in this particular manner.

    [...]

    LOESCH: John Lewis, by his actions is -- he is posing to be a threat to democracy by refusing to acknowledge the results of this election, by refusing to acknowledge the results of the Electoral College. The individuals spoke, and it's not their fault if they refused to vote as John Lewis would have had them voted.

    During the January 17 edition of Live Updates, Stinchfield added he was “very glad” to see that Trump had met with King’s son, Martin Luther King III, “at a time when so-called black leaders are coming out and doing everything they can to derail Donald Trump’s presidency before he even takes office.”

    This is not the first time the NRA has attacked Rep. Lewis; NRA radio host Cam Edwards compared participants in last summer’s U.S. House of Representatives sit-in to protest GOP inaction on gun violence, led by Lewis, to “criminals and terrorists” because he said that, like terrorists, the representatives were not following the rules. 

  • 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.