CNN's Costello failed to ask NRA's LaPierre about Nugent's slurs against Obama, Clinton, Feinstein

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

During a September 21 interview, CNN's Carol Costello interviewed National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, but she did not ask LaPierre about controversial remarks made by Ted Nugent -- an NRA board member -- during an August concert in which he insulted Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Dianne Feinstein.

On the September 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, contributor and guest host Carol Costello interviewed National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, but she did not ask LaPierre about controversial remarks made by musician Ted Nugent -- an NRA board member -- during an August concert at Anaheim's House of Blues. As Media Matters for America noted, in video footage from the concert, Nugent held what appeared to be two assault rifles and boasted that he told Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "to suck on my machine gun" and said that he told Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "you might want to ride one of these into the sunset." Also during the concert, Nugent called Obama a "piece of shit," referred to Clinton as a "worthless bitch," and called Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) a "worthless whore." Portions of Nugent's remarks were aired on the August 28 and 30 editions of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck.

LaPierre and Costello discussed live remarks by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and taped remarks by Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) to the NRA's "Celebration of American Values" conference.

The National Rifle Association listed Nugent as a member of its board of directors whose term would expire in 2007. As Media Matters noted, according to Nugent's biography on his personal website, he has been a member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors from "1995-present." In addition, Nugent frequently performs at the NRA's annual convention. The AP quoted Nugent speaking at the NRA's annual convention in 2005, urging National Rifle Association members to be "hardcore, radical extremists demanding the right to self defense."

From the August 28 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: So what happens when a rock legend decides to exercise his free speech and use assault rifles to help make a point? Take a look.

NUGENT [video clip]: Obama, he's a piece of [expletive], and I told him to suck on my machine gun! Let's hear it for them. And then I was in New York and I said -- I said -- "Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless [expletive]." Freedom!

BECK: All right. Look, I am no stranger to getting criticized when my words have been taken out of context and also being criticized when I deserve it because I stink sometimes. But that clip from the Nuge just seems a little hard to understand. You know? I -- you know, I'm not necessarily clear on his intent here. I know what he said. But why did he say it?

Joining me now is musician and activist Ted Nugent. Hello, Ted. You're still mad at me from this morning, aren't you, Ted?

NUGENT: Bottom line is, I think your representation on the radio this morning -- which, by the way, I'm not mad at you at all. I love you madly. You just don't seem to grasp what literally tens of millions of Americans do grasp, in that good rock 'n' roll, the best rock 'n' roll, especially Ted Nugent rock 'n' roll, is over the top! It's intense. It's scary! It's uninhibited; it's even irreverent.

And I'm not going to try to get a list from anybody of what they authorize me to say, because I draw the line at law. I'm not going to break the law. I'm not going to incite any illegal activities and I'm not going to hurt anybody.

BECK: Hey, look --

NUGENT: Other than that, nothing is sacred.

From the September 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

COSTELLO: So, Rudy Giuliani stood up there and he said: "I know you're not going to agree with some of what I have to say, but you can believe this, that I will put into place the plan that I have." How did that go over with the NRA?

LaPIERRE: Well, a lot of what he said, I mean, I liked. He said that he was in favor of overturning the D.C. gun law, which prohibits people from owning a firearm in their home for protection. He thought the Second Amendment was an individual right. He thought we didn't need more gun laws. He thought they just ought to enforce what was on the books.

But this whole forum today was the first step in a process of our involvement in the presidential race. I mean, we're going to send this out to our members. We're going to listen to what they have to say about all the candidates. And then, eventually, we are going to do what's right to defend the Second Amendment.

COSTELLO: Do you think with his words, though, he changed minds?

LaPIERRE: Well, I -- I -- if you look at history, I mean, there are legions of people in this country in political office that have attempted to square themself away with the Second Amendment, after listening to the majority of the American public on this issue, that want their freedom to own a firearm defended. So, I mean, I don't think there's that much unique about someone that looks at the public opinion in this country, the majority of the Americans, where they are on the issue, and, you know, changes -- evolves to that point.

COSTELLO: But how can you marry what -- how can you marry what Rudy Giuliani said today and what he has said in the past? I'm going to read you something that he said in 1995 to Charlie Rose.

He said: "The NRA is, in essence, defense of assault weapons and their willingness to deal with some of the realities here that we face in our cities is a terrible, terrible mistake."

And, by that, he's talking about gun control. And he says the NRA is making a mistake by not -- not touting gun control for big cities with crime problems.

LaPIERRE: Well, I don't have to. I mean, he has to sell that to the American public and justify it.

I mean, I remember when Bill Clinton came out of the '94 elections and when he said, hey, I listened to the public and I have changed. It -- if you look at the '90s, I mean, the whole Democratic Party at that point was following Clinton and Gore, basically trying to ride destruction of the Second Amendment to victory. It backfired on them.

And, since then, most of the center of the Democratic Party has been much more, we support the Second Amendment and we favor individual rights on firearms.

COSTELLO: So, do you see the NRA supporting Rudy Giuliani's candidacy over other GOP candidates?

LaPIERRE: You know, we're not even to that point. This was a first step in a long process. We are going to defend the freedom of Americans to own firearms, like we always have, and do what's right to achieve that.

COSTELLO: Is there anyone you like best right now, though?

LaPIERRE: We're really not at that point. This was about listening to the candidates. This is about opening up a process. It was about listening to what these candidates have to say, so these type of judgments you're talking about can be made down the road.

But -- but any candidate that wants to come before us and say, hey, look, I've seen the light on the Second Amendment, we're going to hear what they have to --

COSTELLO: Like Bill Richardson, who believes in -- in gun rights, and he's a Democrat?

LaPIERRE: Bill Richardson was very strong. Hey, I mean, he helped pass right-to-carry out in New Mexico. He's been a strong defender of the Second Amendment. And he, by video today, had a very strong Second Amendment rights message.

COSTELLO: So, would you like Bill Richardson, a Democrat, over, let's say, Rudy Giuliani, a Republican?

LaPIERRE: I think Bill Richardson is great. I mean, he's been a strong defender of freedom. We aren't even to that point yet, but I'm happy that Bill Richardson supports the freedom.

I'm happy that any American out there, whether in political office or not, supports the Constitution and supports the right of Americans to own firearms, supports the right of self-defense, and is on our side.

COSTELLO: OK.

I have to ask you about the cell phone, because, right in the middle of Rudy Giuliani's speech to the NRA, his cell phone goes off. So, I'm going to play that for our audience right now --

LaPIERRE: OK.

COSTELLO: --so they can see it.

GIULIANI [video clip]: This is my wife calling, I think. Hello, dear. I'm talking -- I'm talking to the members of the NRA right now. Would you like to say hello? I love you. And I'll give you a call as soon as I'm finished, OK?

OK. Have a safe trip. Bye-bye.

Talk to you later, dear. I love you.

COSTELLO: What did you make of that?

LaPIERRE: I figured his wife called him. I don't know. That -- that was my take on it.

COSTELLO: How did it go over with the audience?

LaPIERRE: I think it was a lighthearted moment, and they were amused by it. And --

COSTELLO: Would you take a phone call from your wife in the middle of an important speech?

LaPIERRE: Hey, I -- I think we -- I think we've all taken a lot of phone calls from our wives.

COSTELLO: So, you would keep it in your pocket, on --

LaPIERRE: Well --

COSTELLO: -- during an important speech --

LaPIERRE: -- I don't know that I would have a cell phone in my pocket on during a speech. But I -- I -- I agree with you on that.

COSTELLO: All right. Wayne LaPierre, thanks so much for joining us today.

LaPIERRE: Thanks, Carol. Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: Appreciate it.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Carol Costello
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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