NRA Features Conservative Media Figures Known For Violent Rhetoric, Baseless Conspiracies At Annual Meeting

››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

The National Rifle Association's annual meeting on May 3-5 will feature a number of conservative media figures -- including Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Ted Nugent -- who often use violent rhetoric and promote gun-related conspiracy theories.

Glenn Beck: Premiere Radio Networks Host And Former Fox News Host

Beck Will Keynote The NRA's "Stand And Fight Rally." The rally is being billed as "NRA's most important gathering of the year."

[2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13; NRA Digital Network, accessed 4/30/13]

Beck Asks, "Why Would You Get A Gun?" And Then Points To Picture Of Obama. From the June 13, 2011, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

[Fox News, Glenn Beck6/13/11]

Would-Be Assassin Of Liberals Inspired By Beck Conspiracies. On July 18, 2010, Byron Williams engaged in a shootout with police while traveling towards San Francisco to carry out a plan to murder employees of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tides Foundation. Williams admitted to reporter John Hamilton that he learned about conspiracy theories from Beck, who had attacked the relatively unknown Tides Foundation, a progressive organization, 29 times on his show in the year-and-a-half leading up to Byron's arrest:

"I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind. I said, well, nobody does this."

Throughout the interview -- and in a letter I would receive later -- Byron tells me I need to watch Beck's programs from June. He says that's where I can learn about the Soros-Obama-Petrobras conspiracy he heatedly described in our earlier conversation.

"You need to go back to June -- June of this year, 2010 -- and look at all his programs from June. And you'll see he's been breaking open some of the most hideous corruption," Byron says. "A year ago, I was watching him, and it was OK, he was all right, you know? ... But now he's getting it." [Media Matters10/11/10]

Pittsburg Anti-Government Cop Killer Reportedly "Loved Glenn Beck." On April 4, 2009, Richard Poplawski fatally shot three police officers who responded to a domestic violence report at his residence. During an interview conducted by former Media Matters writer Will Bunch, one of Poplawski's friends said that the now-convicted murderer "loved Glenn Beck":

"Rich, like myself, loved Glenn Beck," Poplawski's best friend Eddie Perkovic told me during a long interview in his narrow rowhouse on the steep hill running down to the Allegheny. (Perkovic had a lot of time -- he was wearing an ankle bracelet for house arrest because of an unrelated case.) Perkovic and his mom -- who also had a close relationship with the accused cop-killer, still awaiting trial -- told me that for months Poplawski had been obsessed with an idea -- frequently discussed by Beck, including in ads for his sponsor Food Insurance -- of the need to stockpile food and even toilet paper for a societal breakdown. Poplawski was also convinced that paper money would become worthless -- another claim given credence by the Fox News Channel host, particularly in close connection with his frequent shilling for the now-under-investigation gold-coin peddler Goldline International.

And there was another idea that not only worried Poplawski but which Perkovic and his mom still swore by in January 2010 -- despite widespread debunkings in the mainstream media -- that the government had established a gulag of what Perkovic called "Guantanamo camps" here in the United States, for the purpose of arresting and detaining law-abiding Americans. This was the idea that Beck famously declared on FNC [Fox News Channel] on March 3, 2009, or one month and one day before the shootings, that "I can't debunk." Poplawski downloaded to the Web a video of Beck glibly discussing the possibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, abusing its powers with a U.S. Congressman, Ron Paul of Texas. [Media Matters10/11/10]

Beck: "To The Day I Die, I Am Going To Be A Progressive Hunter." During the January 20, 2010, edition of his radio show, Beck compared himself to "the Israeli Nazi hunters" in his claim that "to the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter":

BECK: You are going to learn so much on Friday. We are taking a huge risk on Friday by trying to teach America history that has been completely erased in the history books. And I'm telling you 15 minutes into this documentary, if you haven't had at least I think probably four times - I know the pieces to this documentary - and probably four times I went, "Oh my gosh, why didn't I know that?"

I mean it is staggering the history, the true history of the socialist progressive communist and Nazi movement. It is staggering. When you piece it all together, and I'm telling you after this special this Friday we are then going to the progressive handbook and will show you what these progressives do. I said to my wife last night, I am going to be like the Israeli Nazi hunters, I'm telling you, I'm going to find these big progressives and to the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter. I am going to find these people that have done this to our country and expose them. I don't care if they're in nursing homes. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program1/20/10]

Beck Threatens To Shoot Government Workers For Forcing His Children To Receive The Flu Vaccine. Pushing the false claim that the flu vaccine has been linked to autism, Beck said during the October 15, 2010, edition of his radio show  that government workers who would attempt to take his children for his refusal to participate in a forced vaccination program would "meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson," referring to the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson:

BECK: But here's why it has to be drawn. Because, vaccinations. You don't give your kid vaccination -- how many people do you know that ten years ago people said, "Oh, vaccinations, please stop with the vaccination thing." How many people do you know who are really smart, who have really done their homework, who have children with autism, and say, "Don't do the vaccinations thing"? A lot.

STU BURGUIERE, CO-HOST: There's a lot of people who believe that.

PAT GRAY, CO-HOST: I've got very close friends who, and they swear by it. Vaccination thing. Swear by it.

BECK: My children? We're not getting the flu vaccine. No. The state comes and says my kids have to have the flu -- go to hell. Go to hell. Get off my porch. You want to take my kids because of that? Meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. Get off my land. Period. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program10/15/10]

Beck: "You Will Have To Shoot Me In The Forehead Before You Take Away My Gun." Beck alluded to the Revolutionary War during a July 30, 2009, rant that employed violent imagery:

BECK: America is waking up. You know the American Revolution took place with 12 percent of population? Twelve. Are you telling me there is not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program7/30/09]

Beck's Warning To Democrats About "Radicals" In Their Party: "You're Going To Have To Shoot Them In The Head." Beck gave the following advice to Democrats during the June 9, 2010, edition of his Fox News program:

BECK: Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean nobody else does. We do. You know why you're confused by this show? It's because I believe in something. You don't.

Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.

I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don't. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep's clothing -- change the pose. You will get the ends.

You've been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you. 

They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them -- they're revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/9/10]

Ted Nugent: NRA Board Member And WND Columnist 

Nugent Will Host A Military-Themed Event Titled "Freedom Is Not Free - Repaying Our Debt To Heros [Sic]." From a description of the event on the NRA's annual meeting website:

There is a soldier in a flag draped box who died for America, the US Constitution and Freedom. We the people, who still believe in the American Dream, owe it to those who gave all to utilize our precious freedoms as provided by the ultimate sacrifices of the US Military warriors and their families. [2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13]

Nugent At 2012 NRA Meeting: "If Barack Obama Becomes The President In November, Again, I Will Either Be Dead Or In Jail By This Time Next Year." During a speech at the 2012 NRA annual meeting, Nugent also implored the audience to "ride into that battlefield and chop [Democrats] heads off in November." From Nugent's remarks:

NUGENT: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. Why are you laughing? Do you think that's funny? That's not funny at all. I'm serious as a heart attack.

So, being at the NRA event, God bless you, good indicator, but if you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of. 

[...] 

But what I feel in this room, is I feel this: I'm not taking this crap anymore. I've about had it. Leave my damned paycheck alone. Unless you can be accountable, you get nothing. And if you take that adamant, we-the-people defiance -- remember, we're Americans because we defied the king. We didn't negotiate and compromise with the king. We defied the emperors. We are patriots. We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions? [PolitiFact, 4/19/12]

Nugent's "Metaphor" About Obama Reelection: "When I Kick The Door Down To The Enemy's Camp, Would You Help Me Shoot Somebody?" During an April 8 appearance on NRA News, Nugent suggested that conservatives had not given him enough help in preventing the reelection of Obama:

NUGENT: The left dominates the public discourse. And here we are, with the Chicago gangster, ACORN rip-off scam-artist-in-chief because we, who know better, were silent. I suppose we were being tolerant and moderate. And the Nugent guy, well he's a radical. And again, it's not about me. I don't want a pat on the back. I don't need one. I don't seek one. It's inconsequential.

But when I kick the door down to the enemy's camp, would you help me shoot somebody? Just help me clear the room. And again, that's a metaphor ladies and gentleman, I'm not recommending shooting anybody. It's a metaphor of how to counterpunch the enemy if someone is willing to be on the front line. [NRA News, Cam & Company4/8/13]

Nugent: "Piece Of Shit" Obama Should "Suck On My Machine Gun." From an August 22, 2007, concert where an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent also referred to then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "a worthless bitch":

NUGENT: I was in Chicago last week. I was in Chicago and said, "Hey, Obama you might want to suck on one of these you punk." Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, "Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch." Since I'm in California, how about [Senator] Barbara Boxer [D-CA], she might want to suck on my machine gun. And [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? [Ted Nugent via LiveLeak.com, accessed 4/29/13]

Nugent On Suspected Undocumented Immigrants: "I'd Like To Shoot Them Dead." From an October 13, 2008, appearance on Fox News' Hannity Colmes:

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: You want to kill on sight anybody who illegally comes into the country. Just shoot them, right?

NUGENT: If they're armed, and they're attacking our country, yes.

COLMES: Well, they wouldn't be attacking. You don't know if someone coming over the border -- would you just shoot anybody coming over the border who you suspect of being illegal?

NUGENT: In an unauthorized entry, armed, like they are right now, invading our country, I'd like to shoot them dead.

COLMES: Just shoot them dead. All right. [Hannity Colmes via Nexis, 10/13/08]

Nugent: "If You Want Another Concord Bridge, I've Got Some Buddies." In an interview at a January 2013 gun industry trade show, Nugent told assembled reporters that the Obama administration "is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George" and that "if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies": 

NUGENT: I'm part of a very great experiment in self-government where we the people determine our own pursuit of happiness and our own individual freedom and liberty not to be confused with the Barack Obama gang who believes in we the sheeple and actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776. And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies. [Media Matters1/22/13]

Nugent After Tucson Mass Shooting: "Conservatives Should Turn Up The Rhetoric." In the wake of a January 8, 2011, mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona where 19 people were shot including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Nugent rejected widespread calls to tone down political rhetoric in a Washington Times column:

Conservatives on the radio, on television and in print need to turn up the heat on Democrats with wit, passion, ideas and facts. Conservatives should not fall for the liberal ruse of toning down the rhetoric by waving a white flag and promising to play nice.

[...]

In order to defeat liberals on the political-ideology battlefield, conservatives must be clear in purpose and then get after it by targeting (yes, I said targeting) and attacking Democratic nostrums that have weakened America. Expose, isolate and eliminate liberals and their fuzzy-headed policies. Use Saul Alinsky techniques against them.

[...]

Conservatives have liberals outnumbered and surrounded. Don't play nice with liberal snakes. Don't let them escape. Instead, do America a favor and crush liberalism. [The Washington Times1/13/11]

Nugent: Gun Owners "Will Be The Rosa Parks And We Will Sit Down On The Front Seat Of The Bus." During an interview with WND, Nugent compared the prospect of opposing an Obama gun confiscation plot to the actions of civil rights icon Rosa Parks:

"If it comes to the actual implementation of an actual confiscatory directive from our president, then I do believe that the heroes of the law enforcement will defy this order," he said. "I do believe that there are enough soulless sheep within our government who would act on such an illegal order, but I believe the powers that be at the local, state and regional law enforcement would halt such an illegal, anti-American order.'

Nugent continued: "You are talking to a guy who talks to more gun owners in more heated and concerned conversations than anyone who lives. These are top notch heroes of law enforcement and military who understand this experiment in self-government and we will not let [gun confiscation] happen; we will do it peaceful.

"But there will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed." [WND, 1/9/13]

Nugent: The Heroic Response To The Boston Marathon Bombings "Represents" The NRA. During an April 16 appearance on NRA News, Nugent said the heroism of first responders who rushed to the scene of the April 15 bombings of the Boston Marathon "represents what the NRA is":

NUGENT: Those uniformed heroes of the military charged in with the uniformed heroes of law enforcement, the first responders, the EMTs, and quite relative to my opening statement today, citizens, just people, American citizens knowing that two bombs had gone off, limbs had been blown off of peoples' bodies, massive amounts of blood and terror and trauma. And where did civilians and heroes of professional organizations and law enforcement and military, where did they run? Straight into the danger. That's the America that I pray every day that represents what the NRA is. [NRA News, Cam & Company4/16/13]

Sean Hannity: Fox News Host

Hannity Is The Keynote Speaker At The 7th Annual NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon. According to the event's website, "The 7th Annual NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon is a coalition of philanthropic women united with the mission of infusing new enthusiasm, new excitement, new leaders and new opportunities into the fight for Second Amendment freedoms." [2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13]

Hannity Hosted Special At NRA's Shooting Range To Downplay Dangers Of Assault Weapons. The special featured the red-herring that the small bullet hole left by rounds typically fired by assault weapons is indicative of the gun's power: 

[Media Matters1/19/13]

For more on how conservative media figures misled about the capabilities of assault weapons, click here.

Hannity Claimed That The Obama Administration Was Exploiting Newtown Families Who Support Stronger Gun Laws.  During the April 11 edition of Hannity on Fox News, Hannity accused the Obama administration of "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families": 

[Fox News, Hannity4/11/13]

Hannity Refused To Repudiate "Friend" Nugent's Call For Obama To "Suck" On His "Machine Gun." On the August 24, 2007, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity defended Nugent's infamous anti-Obama diatribe saying the rocker was "a friend" of his:

NUGENT [video clip]: I was in Chicago. I said, "Hey, Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk!"

Obama, he's a piece of [bleep]. And I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for it.

And I was in New York. I said, "Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless [bleep]!"

HANNITY: That was friend and frequent guest on the program Ted Nugent expressing his feelings towards Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Joining us now, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.

You know, Bob, we may actually agree here. Here is Ted Nugent. He's saying, you know, the "Wang Dang" song, "Cat Scratch Fever," wears a loincloth on stage, fires, you know, an arrow at targets on stage. I see you liberals more upset about that, but I don't hear anybody criticizing Barack Obama for accusing our troops of killing civilians, air-raiding villages, et cetera, et cetera. What's more shocking to you? What's more offensive to you? Is it Barack Obama's statement about our troops or Ted Nugent?

BOB BECKEL: You know, only you could figure out a way to ask a question like that. First of all, Nugent, this is a boy who's missing a couple dogs from under his front porch. This guy has been pimping for Republicans for years now. They want him to run for Senate against Obama. I can't believe -- when the Dixie Chicks said something about George Bush, which was mild compared to this jerk, and the religious right, the Dobsons and the Robertsons, rose up in fury. You rose up in fury.

[crosstalk]

HANNITY: You know, typical Bob Beckel. But you can't answer the question. I didn't ask you that.

BECKEL: I want to see -

[crosstalk]

BECKEL: Are you prepared now, Sean -- are you prepared to disavow this lowlife or not?

HANNITY: No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine. [emphasis added] [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 8/24/07, via Media Matters

John Bolton: NRA Advisor And Fox News Contributor

Bolton Will Speak At The NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. [2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13]

Bolton Pushed The NRA Myth That The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Would Supersede Domestic Gun Laws. During a March 19 appearance on Cam & Company Bolton suggested that enactment of the Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to crack down on the supply of arms to human rights abusers, would result in the United States "changing our domestic gun control laws":

[The Sportsman Channel, Cam & Company3/19/13]

For more information on the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to regulate international -- but not domestic -- transfers of arms, click here.

In NRA Fundraising Video, Bolton Called Obama A "Post-American" President For Supporting Arms Trade TreatyFrom a July 2012 NRA fundraising video:

[Media Matters7/11/12]

Oliver North: NRA Board Member And Fox News Host

North Will Participate In A Book Signing Event At The NRA Annual Meeting. [2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13]

North: "The National Rifle Association Is One Of The Greatest Protectors Of Civil Liberties That Has Ever Existed On The Planet Earth." During the January 15 edition of the NRA's news program Cam & Company, North attacked the response of Obama to the Newtown massacre and characterized the NRA as "one of the greatest protectors of civil liberties that has ever existed on the planet Earth":

NORTH: And what you now see is a sea change in the political climate in Washington, D.C., at the White House where they now expect that they can do things they otherwise would have been unable to do. That which he cannot accomplish legislatively is now going to be done by executive action. That is contrary to my understanding of what the Constitution's all about. I think it's contrary and foreign to most of our thinking. When we raise that right hand and take that oath, we don't pledge fealty to a political party, to an individual, unlike many other countries around the world. What we've done is we have now decided that one man can decide what is or isn't legal under certain circumstances. I think civil libertarians -- and by the way the National Rifle Association is one of the greatest protectors of civil liberties that has ever existed on the planet Earth. [The Sportsman Channel, Cam & Company,1/15/13]

North Was A Central Figure In The Iran-Contra Scandal That Helped Fund The Human Rights Abusing Contra Rebels In Nicaragua. During the 1980s, North, then employed by the National Security Council, headed an illegal effort to sell weapons to Iran and use the residual profits to fund a Contra attempt to seize power in Nicaragua. [PBS, accessed 4/30/13]

Katie Pavlich: Fox News Contributor

Pavlich Will Participate In A Book Signing Event At The NRA Annual Meeting. [2013 NRA Annual Meetings And Exhibits, accessed 4/29/13]

Pavlich: "The Organization That Really Stands Up For Women's Rights Is The NRA." From a March 15 panel at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference:

[Media Matters3/15/13]

Pavlich Pushed The Conspiracy Theory That The Obama Administration Intended To Create Violence In Mexico To Promote Gun Reform Agenda. During an April 16, 2012, appearance on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Pavlich promoted her book about Operation Fast and Furious -- a failed gun trafficking sting overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- by suggesting that a "political agenda" existed behind the operation "to blame American gun shops for cartel violence in America in order to push an anti-Second Amendment [agenda]." O'Reilly dismissed Pavlich's theory as a "conspiracy thing." [Media Matters4/23/12]

For more about conservative conspiracy theories surrounding Fast and Furious, click here

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