Military Personnel & Veterans

Issues ››› Military Personnel & Veterans
  • VA Reiterates That NRA Violated Ban On “Partisan Activities” By Filming Political Ad At Military Cemetery

    VA’s National Cemetery Administration: Political Ads Filmed At Cemeteries “Are Not Compatible With Preserving The Dignity And Tranquility Of The National Cemeteries”


    As the National Rifle Association continues to use footage it filmed at a national cemetery in political attack ads, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) reiterated to Media Matters that had the NRA asked permission to film, the request would have been denied.

    So far, the NRA has used footage it filmed at Alexandria National Cemetery in political ads targeting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. In the ad targeting Clinton, which was released in June, Mark Geist, a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks, criticized Clinton’s handling of the attacks while walking next to gravestones. Footage from the same cemetery again appeared in a September Benghazi-themed ad targeting Murphy that the NRA is spending nearly $900,000 to air.

    Asked about the NRA’s continued use of the footage, NCA spokesperson Jessica Schiefer told Media Matters, “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content. Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines.”

    As Schiefer explained, “As always, our Veterans, their families and survivors are our top priority. To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints, or for uses that are (or may be interpreted as) an endorsement of a commercial entity.”

    According to NCA filming rules, “Political activities, including filming of campaign ads, are not permitted on cemetery grounds.” also criticized the NRA’s continued use of the footage, telling Media Matters that “the NRA is doubling down” on “this despicable approach to campaigning.” In its full statement, encouraged people to sign its petition asking for the NRA to pull its ad:

    Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association ran a television ad attacking Hillary Clinton that was filmed inside of a veterans' cemetery.

    It was a disgrace. The Veterans of Foreign Wars even took steps to condemn the ad by saying they "don't want any candidate using our dead to score political points."

    But the NRA is doubling down, and this week they released a second ad in Florida featuring military graves, but this time in addition to attacking Hillary Clinton, the spot also trains its sights on Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign.

    This is deplorable, and we hope that if we can bring light to this despicable approach to campaigning we can get the NRA to pull the spot.

    Sign VoteVets' petition calling on the National Rifle Association to apologize for their ads featuring military graves, and to pull them from wherever they're running on television and the internet.

    When John McCain's ad team did the same in 1999, the Senator admitted wrongdoing and removed the footage. Further, the spots violate Veterans Affairs policies. Hopefully by making our voices heard, the NRA will pull the spots from the air.

    Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars repeated its past criticism of the NRA for filming in military cemeteries, which stated, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

  • Cable Networks Were "Played Like A Fiddle" By Donald Trump’s “20-Second” Birther Statement

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A slew of media critics and commentators shamed cable news networks for being “played” into providing free live coverage of a campaign event for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. After Trump teased a “major announcement,” cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage in anticipation that Trump would address criticism over his role in pushing conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump’s mere seconds-long statement “came only after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him,” turning it into “a de facto commercial for the GOP candidate.”

  • Reporters Castigate NBC's Matt Lauer For Letting Trump Lie About Opposing Iraq War

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Reporters slammed NBC's Matt Lauer for allowing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to lie about his purported opposition to the Iraq War. 

    Trump regularly claims in interviews and on the stump that he opposed the war from the beginning, and repeated that claim during NBC's September 7 Commander-in-Chief Forum. There is no evidence to support this claim and February reporting from BuzzFeed News showed Trump voiced support “for invading Iraq” in 2002 and termed it a "tremendous success" after the invasion began.

    When Lauer allowed Trump to repeat the lie, journalists across the spectrum highlighted the falsehood and ripped into him for failing to follow up.


  • On CNN, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial Page Editor Repeats Sentinel’s Call For Paul Ryan To “Disavow Donald Trump”

    David Haynes: “We Think Trump Has Crossed Many Lines, But This Final Line Was His Essential Denigration Of A Gold Star Family”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial editor repeated the Sentinel's call for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to disavow GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, explaining that he "must choose his party or his principles."

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board denounced Trump in the August 2 edition of the paper, describing his attacks on the Khan family a “national embarrassment,” and called for Paul Ryan to “stand on principle” and “disavow Donald Trump,” because his “candidacy cannot accommodate both”:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan still seems to think he can have it both ways with Donald Trump. But he must choose his party or his principles. The Trump candidacy cannot accommodate both.


    Ryan still believes he can have it both ways with Trump — that he can support Trump and still manage the billionaire’s frequent eruptions of ignorance. He cannot. His principles and Donald Trump's candidacy are simply not compatible. What will it take, Speaker Ryan? If not small-minded contempt for a Gold Star family, then what? How far must Trump go? Stand on principle. Disavow Donald Trump.

    Editorial page editor for the Sentinel, David Haynes, discussed the publication with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on August 3, telling the host that “it’s really time for [Paul Ryan] to say ‘I was wrong’ and to take back that endorsement” of Trump. Haynes stated “we think Trump has crossed many lines, but this final line was his essential denigration of a gold star family, the Khan family.”

    Haynes continued, stating “there is a certain baseline that a person has to meet in order to be qualified for the nation’s highest office,” arguing “this would be an unusual move for a House Speaker,” but “maybe it’s time for that unusual move.” From the August 3 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:  

    BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): Meantime, the headline over the course of the last 24 hours in this interview with the Washington Post, he refused to endorse the top Republican congressman, the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. And in fact today, Wisconsin hometown paper is calling him out. David Haynes is with me, editorial page editor with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Nice to have you, sir. Welcome.

    DAVID HAYNES: Thank you. Good to be with you, Brooke.

    BALDWIN: So, you just published a piece calling on Paul Ryan to disavow Trump once and for all, writing quote, "Ryan still believes he can have it both ways with Trump, that he could support Trump and still manage the billionaire's frequent eruptions of ignorance. He cannot." What exactly are you asking for Paul Ryan to do?

    HAYNES: Well, we have a tremendous amount of respect for Paul Ryan. We've disagreed with him on issues from time to time, but it's always been an issue based disagreement. We have a lot of affection for Paul Ryan, but we think that he needs to stand on principles and not party in this case. It's really time for him to say "I was wrong," and to take back that endorsement. We think Trump has crossed many lines, but this final line was his essential denigration of a gold star family, the Khan family.

    BALDWIN: The saying "I was wrong," or even President Obama saying from the East Room yesterday to leaders like Paul Ryan, you know, "You need to say enough," -- wouldn't that make him look weak?

    HAYNES: Actually -- I think actually it makes him look strong. Paul Ryan has a great deal of respect within the conservative movement and his own party. Polling in Wisconsin and nationwide shows he is still very popular. It certainly isn't going to hurt him in his election in the primary. He has a primary challenge this year, but all polling we've seen shows that he is doing quite well. And what it says is that he is standing up for his own conservative principles, but beyond that, for the idea that there is a certain baseline that a person has to meet in order to be qualified for the nation's highest office.

    BALDWIN: And let me -- it is fascinating, also just talking you to you there in Wisconsin, because of Reince Priebus, right?

    HAYNES: Correct.

    BALDWIN: So, he is in a curious place, the chair of the RNC, but, you know, good, good buddies with Paul Ryan. They go back to -- he chaired his first congressional race, and you know, we know he has been on the phone back and forth with Donald Trump in the last couple of days. What do you think Reince Priebus is thinking right now?

    HAYNES: We have heard that Reince Priebus for a number of weeks has been tearing his hair out, because there is very little he can do. I understand Reince Priebus continues to support the candidate. I think he has to. But we think Paul Ryan is in a very different position. It's a very odd election, I understand that, and this would be an unusual move for a House Speaker, to essentially disavow a candidate from his own party. But maybe it's time for that unusual move, at least that's our opinion.

  • CNN Lets Trump Spokesperson Falsely Blame Obama For 2004 Death Of Captain Humayun Khan

    UPDATE: Blitzer Later Corrected Pierson's Claim

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN’s Wolf Blitzer allowed Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson to falsely blame President Obama for “chang[ing] the rules of engagements” before the death of Capt. Humayun Khan on June 8, 2004, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    After allowing Pierson to falsely claim that “it was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagements that probably cost [Humayun Khan] his life,” Blitzer failed to inform viewers that Barack Obama wasn’t President in 2004 and was first sworn in as a U.S. Senator on January 4, 2005. From the August 2 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room:

    WOLF BLITZER (HOST): Wasn't he disrespectful, though, to that Gold Star family?

    KATRINA PIERSON: Disrespectful by defending himself? He didn't say anything about the son. In fact, he honored his service. The only thing he said, Wolf, is basically "This man knows nothing about me, why is he criticizing me?" How is that an attack?

    BLITZER: Well, most people would have just said "You know what? This family has lost a son, a hero, fought on the battle, prevented some of his fellow soldiers from dying by going into that suicide- that car bombing, if you will. I am not going to get into a discussion, a back and forth. I praise this family. I praise the son," and move on. He didn't have to go back and forth and respond to all of the statements made by the father.

    PIERSON: But surely you can understand -- but surely you can understand the confusion, considering how Donald Trump never voted for the Iraq war. Hillary Clinton did. And then she didn't support the troops to have what they need.

    It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagements, that probably cost his life. So, I don't understand why it is so hard to understand why Donald Trump was confused about why he was being held responsible for something he had nothing to do with, while Hillary Clinton had everything to do with.

    BLITZER: Katrina Pierson, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.

    UPDATE:  Blitzer fact-checked Pierson's bizarre claim in a follow-up segment, noting that Capt. Khan died in Iraq "five years before President Obama took office."