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National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who has a long history of violent and hateful rhetoric, boasted in a blog post about his April 19 dinner with President Donald Trump at the White House.
Nugent and his wife attended the dinner along with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and musician Kid Rock. According to pictures Palin posted on her social media account, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner also met with the group in the Oval Office during their visit. Nugent was an early and vocal supporter of then-candidate Trump, campaigning for him in Michigan and backing his widely panned Muslim ban.
In an April 20 blog post, Nugent praised the meeting and wrote, “Donald J. Trump as President of the United States is proof positive that I’m not alone.” Nugent called himself a “genuine take-no-crap representative of our beloved deerhunting lifestyle, gunrights and overall American freedom” and claimed that he spoke to Trump about “anti-science and anti-hunting laws”:
I am both proud and honored to bring my deeranddeerhunting.com BloodBrothers a soulful, Spirit of the Wild greetings and update from the President of the United States at the White House in Washington DC, where my lovely Queen of the Forest wife Shemane and I dined with President Trump along with the great Governor Sarah Palin and her daughter and friends, and our Michigan hunting BloodBrothers Bob “Kid Rock” Richie and his deadly fiance Audrey Berry, and of course a contingent of US Secret Service warriors just for good measure.
That is correct, you heard me right; deeranddeerhunting.com had a genuine take-no-crap representative of our beloved deerhunting lifestyle, gunrights and overall American freedom at the White house dinnertable with the POTUS. The WhackMaster was there all aglow with truth, logic and commonsense oozing from every pore.
And what a lovely evening it was.
With sons who hunt, the President is very aware of the misguided, anti-science and anti-hunting laws and regulations perpetrated by power abusing bureaucrats infesting our states and nation. I would say that the prognosis for hunter’s rights has never been better for the future of hunting, fishing and trapping in America, I assure you.
We didn’t actually confirm that I will be organizing annual deerhunts at Camp David, but he is acutely aware of “wise-use” management versus “politically correct misuses” and vows to work diligently to make it right.
We discussed various quality of life issues and how entrenched status quo political correctness has wrecked everything it has touched and how his administration is focused and dedicated to get back to the US Constitutional basics of government of, by and for the people.
President Trump summed it up when he humbly and proudly stated that he works for “we the people” and he will not let us down.
When his administration’s battlecry is “America first” you know we are on the right track after a long and embarrassing disconnect by the political posers who forgot they worked for us instead of vice versa.
We discussed specifically the counterproductive follies of the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the US Fish & Wildlife Service, BLM and other out of control bureaucracies.
All in all, Shemane and I were genuinely honored to break bread with the leader of the free world, and for the first time in many years I have a renewed level of positive excitement about the improved direction our country is now headed.
In 2014, he called then-President Barack Obama a “communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” In a January 2016 Facebook post, he called for Obama and then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be “tried for treason & hung.” In February 2016, Nugent shared an anti-Semitic image on Facebook suggesting that Jews are behind a widespread conspiracy to enact gun control laws, and doubled down on hate speech that Jewish supporters of gun safety are actually “Nazis in disguise.” In a May 2016 Facebook post, Nugent shared a fake video depicting Clinton being graphically murdered by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with a handgun during a 2016 presidential primary debate, adding, “I got your gun control right here bitch” as his own comment.
While Trump is slated to speak at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum this month, Nugent has been a fixture of the NRA's annual meeting, delivering talks in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. During his speech at the 2015 meeting, Nugent talked about shooting then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), called the former president “Osama Obama,” and offered to pilot a boat ride to take Obama back to Kenya. At the 2012 meeting, Nugent set in motion a visit from the Secret Service after telling NRA members that he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama was re-elected president.
NRATV attacked anti-gun-violence activists in anticipation of them attempting to “politicize” the recent deadly shooting in Fresno, CA. But an NRA host later used the shooting to compare an anti-gun-violence leader to the Fresno shooter and suggested people need to arm themselves when “a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm.”
On April 18, Kori Muhammad opened fire on four men in Fresno, CA, killing three. The shooting occurred two hours after Fresno police identified him as the suspect in the killing of an unarmed security guard. Despite earlier speculation, the police confirmed that the suspect isn’t connected to terrorism, and called the shootings “solely based on race.”
During the April 18 edition of NRATV’s Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards briefly mentioned the shooting in the show’s 4 p.m. hour, and highlighted that the gunman said “Allahu akbar” when he was being arrested. Edwards went on to bemoan that gun violence prevention groups “will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime … if they have not done so already”:
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): We are watching some breaking news out of Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad, who apparently was wanted in a murder last week in Fresno, taken into custody after shooting and killing at least three people in Fresno earlier today. We will bring you more details on that story, apparently shouted Allahu akbar when police arrested him. [The police] chief said he expressed a hatred of whites, taken into custody again in Fresno, California. I am assuming that, if they have not already done so, gun control groups will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime in California before long, if they have not done so already.
But just one day after Edwards complained that anti-gun-violence groups would “politicize” the shooting, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield did just that. During the April 19 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates, Stinchfield said it was “delusional and … deceitful” not to consider the shooting an act of terrorism and warned that “you better be ready, because the reality is, there will be no one there to defend you”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Kori Ali Muhammad calls white people the devil. He killed three of them yesterday while yelling in Arabic, “God is great” -- Allahu akbar. We’ve heard it too many times before. I call it a rampage, the media wants to call it a hate crime. What no one is calling it is a terrorist attack. The man yelled Allahu akbar. Call this heinous act what it is, terrorism on the streets of Fresno. Look at this article written by The Associated Press: Not once does it even mention the possibility of terrorism. It’s delusional and more likely deceitful. The media wants you to believe there is no such thing as radical Islam or the terrorists who practice it. Here is what Fresno police have to say:
STINCHFIELD: Come on, clearly radical Islam is alive and well. That is one example of it. And these holy warriors lurk on our streets; it is up to you to defend yourself from an attack like this. In the very moment a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm, you better be ready. Because the reality is, there will be no one else there to defend you.
Stinchfield began his 10-minute noon update by calling Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts “extreme” for promising to protest the NRA annual meeting at the end of the month and comparing her to to the Fresno gunman, who is “also extreme.” Stinchfield repeated that “Allahu akbar” is the “rallying cry of every Islamic holy warrior,” and therefore proof this attack is terror-related. NRA spokesperson and commentator Dana Loesch also slammed the police for calling this “a hate crime based on race,” and went on to state, “The guy is a terrorist, plain and simple.”
The National Rifle Association has a well-established track record of hypocrisy when it comes to whether to politicize mass shootings and tragedies. The organization slammed gun violence prevention groups when they called to expand the national background checks system after the mass shooting in a Charleston church in June 2015. Edwards went as far as to say it is “completely inappropriate” to discuss gun policies the day after an incident. The NRA, however, quickly responded to a shooting at a naval facility in Chattanooga, TN, a month later and argued that it proved firearm regulations on military bases should be loosened. It seems that in the NRA's hypocritical worldview, calls for stronger gun laws are disrespectful, exploitative, and shameless -- while calls for less restrictions are sensible, timely, and relevant. Even worse, the gun group's post-shooting strategy operates from behind a façade of "respect" for the victims.
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Television News Ignored The Dangerous Intersections Of Intimate Partner Violence, Access To Firearms, And Black Women’s Lives After San Bernardino School Shooting
On the morning of April 10, a man entered a special education classroom at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, CA, and opened fire with a revolver. He shot and killed the teacher -- his estranged wife Karen Smith -- and an 8-year-old student named Jonathan Martinez, and injured another student before killing himself. By April 12, national television news had virtually stopped talking about it.
News media coverage of intimate partner violence has the power to shape public perception of the issue, and inadequate or dismissive coverage can ultimately normalize or perpetuate this epidemic of violence against women.
In the United States, a woman is assaulted every nine seconds, and “an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute.” One in three women and one in four men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. And access to firearms, like the revolver used to murder Karen Smith and Jonathan Martinez, only increases the likelihood that intimate partner violence will end with a woman dead.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, in more than half of U.S. mass shootings from 2009 through 2016, “the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.” One study found that among women living in the United States, “about 4.5 million have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.” A 2016 Associated Press analysis of FBI data concluded that “an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners between 2006 and 2014.” The connection between intimate partner violence and firearm deaths can also sometimes carry a larger body count: “Many mass shooters have a history of domestic violence,” like the San Bernardino school shooter did.
It's also important to note that intimate partner violence disproportionately affects black women, like Smith. In 2014, Time reported that black women are nearly three times as likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence than white women. What’s more, in 2014, black women were murdered by men more than twice the rate of white women. And like the murder in San Bernardino, most homicides against black women are committed by men whom they know.
Yet Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone pointed out that, though “a shooting at an elementary school might be expected to receive outsize coverage due to the shocking nature of the act,” that didn’t seem to happen with the Monday murders of Karen Smith and Jonathan Martinez:
On Monday night, the three major broadcast evening newscasts led with the San Bernardino school shooting story, but the anchors remained in New York. By Tuesday, the story was already receding from the headlines. Cable morning shows, like CNN’s “New Day” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” only covered it in passing. And The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal didn’t run front page stories on it.
And a search of Nexis and Snapstream transcripts from the major news networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- for the week since the shooting has come up almost completely empty on necessary context.
In these available transcripts from Monday, April 10, through Monday, April 17, not a single segment or report on the shooting shooting mentioned the prevalence of intimate partner violence in the U.S. or hinted at the role guns play in making instances of intimate partner violence deadlier. There were also no mentions of the disproportionate danger to black women that intimate partner violence poses.
Mainstream media seem unwilling to devote much coverage to intimate partner violence, even when women die. And there is a particular lack of coverage concerning the violence routinely perpetrated on black women’s bodies. When television media silence helps to perpetuate the normalization of violence -- particularly against black women -- it becomes deafening.
For the time period between April 10 and April 17, Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for any mentions of the terms “San Bernardino,” “Karen Smith,” or “Karen Elaine Smith.” The search included all available news transcripts for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Nexis transcripts include all-day programming on CNN, evening programming on MSNBC and Fox News, and morning, evening, and Sunday news shows on the broadcast networks. Snapstream transcripts were used to analyze daytime programming on MSNBC and Fox News.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
Image at top created by Sarah Wasko.
Fox News hosted National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch where she advocated for the organization's top legislative priority, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, though Fox failed to disclose her NRA ties and identified her only as a “syndicated radio host.”
After spending over $30 million during the presidential election to support Trump, the NRA has made the concealed carry reciprocity bill its top legislative priority. Federal reciprocity legislation mandates that states recognize concealed carry permits issued by any other state.
Loesch, who has worked as an NRA commentator, recently started working for the gun group as a spokesperson. On February 21, the NRA put out a press release which stated that Loesch “will serve as a major national spokesperson for the National Rifle Association.” She was also named special assistant to NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre “with direct attributable authority on NRA matters.” LaPierre “reiterated that Loesch now has full authority to represent the NRA on a broad range of issues” in the press release.
During the April 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer asked Loesch to “grade” President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, and gave the NRA spokesperson a platform to push for national concealed carry reciprocity without disclosing any of her ties. Loesch said she would give Trump “between a B++ and an A-,” but said she is “waiting for national reciprocity.” At the end of interview, she said that if Trump can push national reciprocity through, she’ll give him an “A with a sticker”:
BILL HEMMER (HOST): So the clock is ticking down on President Trump’s first 100 days in office. Already the critics and the pundits are weighing in. Here to give him a grade, Dana Loesch, national syndicated radio talk show host with me now. [...] We found an editorial in the New York Post. Here is the headline, you ready? “Trump's first 100 days have been better than you think.” And then we found a headline in the New York Times and it said “100 days of horror.” So you go ahead and choose. Which would you like to address, Dana?
HEMMER: How would you grade what you have seen from this White House in the first three months , Dana?
DANA LOESCH: I would say that I would give the grade of -- right now, I'm going between a B++ and an A- , only because I'm waiting for national reciprocity. I get that national reciprocity, the country gets that national reciprocity, I think that bumps right up. But I think the first 100 days, I think he has done incredibly well and I think that he has kept his promises. And I know the media wants to look at the healthcare reform. The healthcare reform failed ultimately because this was something that was rushed through. There wasn't a general consensus before they took it to the floor. I think a lot of this was -- have to put it down on Paul Ryan. I think congressman -- Speaker Ryan was really trying to push it out there and I think that they needed a little bit more time and they needed to look at some of the previous plans which passed including Jim Jordan's in 2015 which also allowed a two-year grace period to make sure that a market based plan could be implemented. The House Freedom Caucus which is the representation of the Tea Party, that same momentum that launched Trump into the White House I think held its ground and I think that it actually will serve Trump well and the Trump administration. So I think the failures that the media wants to put upon him really are media projections. And of course the media has been drip, drip, dripping, leak, leak, leak. We have to think about a Susan Rice using an apparatus that was designed to protect America from terrorism and using that same apparatus potentially to spy on free Americans over dissent. I think that that's incredibly huge and it's being buried by the very media like The New York Times, Bill.
HEMMER: All interesting. I'll put you down for a B+ and you do know this White House --
LOESCH: B++. I know they’re watching right now, if President Trump can put that national reciprocity, I’m happy to put an A with a sticker.
One version of concealed carry reciprocity introduced in the House by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) would “dramatically alter the way states regulate who can carry concealed firearms within their borders,” according to The Trace. States that do require concealed carry permits have varying standards, but under Hudson’s bill “states that set high bars for concealed carry would be compelled to welcome gun-toting visitors” from any state, regardless of carry requirements.
Chicago Urban League CEO Shari Runner: “There Is Zero Tolerance” For Segments On iHeartRadio That Ridicule The African-American Community
Civil rights and gun violence prevention organizations are continuing to call on iHeartRadio to break its silence on conservative radio host Michael Berry, who hosted a weekly segment called the “Butcher Bill” and “The Chicago Weekend Crime Report” that was dedicated to mocking victims of Chicago gun violence.
Berry hosted the racially charged segment for several years on his iHeartRadio syndicated show The Michael Berry Show, and in March Talkers magazine reported that he would be honored with a “Talk Personality of the Year” award at the 2017 iHeartMusic Awards. After mounting pressure from several local Chicago news outlets, Berry issued a disingenuous apology for his “Butcher Bill” segment and pledged to end it.
But iHeartRadio refused to publicly comment on the controversy or say whether Berry had actually received the award during the March 5 ceremony.
Despite a letter from 21 civil rights and gun violence prevention groups calling on the company to confirm whether it gave Berry the award, and a letter from the Chicago Urban League and other Chicago groups calling for Berry to be fired, iHeartRadio has refused to publicly address the situation.
During the April 10 edition of WVON’s The Talk Of Chicago, Chicago Urban League president and CEO Shari Runner said that there can be “zero tolerance” for characterizing African-Americans “as people who are lawless, unprofessional, [and] uncaring,” as Berry’s segment did. Runner highlighted iHeartRadio’s large African-American audience and suggested that advertisers should consider whether they want to be associated with iHeartRadio’s brand:
From the April 10 edition of WVON’s The Talk Of Chicago:
RUFUS WILLIAMS (GUEST HOST): Have you been able to get caught up with what’s going on from your staff, and just give us some opening thoughts on what you think about this situation? Then we got a couple calls I’d like to take too.
SHARI RUNNER (CHICAGO URBAN LEAGUE): Yeah, I think it’s very important that we talk about how we as African-Americans manage our narrative. This is not the kind of thing that we want to let happen and lay silent about. It doesn’t -- it hasn’t gotten the kind of press that Bill O’Reilly has. But it is equally if not more important that we understand how people hijack and think about what it is that we are doing as African-Americans to say this is who we are and this is where we should be.
WILLIAMS: That’s a good point because it really does ask the question: What is our tolerable level of insult? And we’ve got to know that this beyond the pale. This is certainly beyond it, and we can stop and see all of the media that comes when Bill O’Reilly has a sex abuse, sex whatever, issue. And everybody pays attention and advertisers fall from that. There needs to be the same kind of outcry. There needs to be the same kind of reduction that happens when our -- when we are mocked as a people in the way in which this has happened.
RUNNER: Yeah. No question about it. There is no tolerance. There is zero tolerance as we’ve heard in a number of different ways, that we can allow African-American people to be characterized as people who are lawless, unprofessional, uncaring. This is a big deal and we need to start with this one thing, if not many things, to make sure that our community is characterized in the right light.
WILLIAMS: So Shari, where we stopped in leading up to our chronology for -- to today, and where we have been with this response is, we stopped at the point of having had the conversation last week with Greg [Ashlock] of iHeartMedia who runs the region that includes this guy’s show down in Texas. So he was supposed to get back to Paula [Thornton Greear, senior vice president of Chicago Urban League,] by Friday, which he did not do. So where we are now is talking about what our next steps will be. And I know we haven’t collectively sat down and talked about that, but, what I would like to do is to talk about that. Get some thoughts from you, get some thoughts from here, get some thoughts from our audience. What is it that we think our next step should be? Because we did talk about the lack of diversity in the C-suite, we talked about the lack of diversity on their board, we talked about the fact that we need to understand where their dollars gets spent, the huge influence that iHeart has on our community given the number of African-American, the number of black listeners who listen to iHeart stations. So let’s talk about what we think our next steps should be from this point, having not heard from them through today.
RUNNER: Well it's very, very important. And I know that we have entertainment value around the people that are represented on iHeartRadio. Ninety seven percent of African-American listeners listen to a station, an urban radio station, that is owned by iHeart. And they do that. And iHeart makes money around creating dollars for advertisers who want to engage those listeners. So, how important is that to us? How important, as we’ve heard Nielson say over and over again, we have spending votes. It is not just the votes we do at the ballot box, it is a matter of how do we use those spending votes to make sure that we are available to create a movement that happens for us. And --
WILLIAMS: So basically, you are saying, who are their advertisers? Who are the people who support iHeart? Who are the stations that we have been listening to and where we should pull back in effecting those things?
RUNNER: Yes, absolutely. We do it and we think about it -- I hope everybody thinks about it as it relates to the Koch brothers, and who they are and what they do as it relates to our community. But really, how do we use our power as an African-American community in this country to make sure that we are doing the right things to get the things that benefit our community.
NRATV host Cam Edwards has repeatedly highlighted the country’s raging opioid epidemic while arguing that gun violence gets too much media attention by comparison. While both crises require major media attention and public health resources, Edwards’ commentary on the issue serves the the NRA’s interest in downplaying the toll of gun violence.
During his three-hour weekday NRATV show Cam & Company, Edwards regularly discusses the opioid epidemic that “is hitting Americans all across the country” and points out the increase in deaths from opioid overdose from 2014 to 2016 in states including Ohio, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and West Virginia. At the end of his monologues, however, Edwards often uses the drug overdose epidemic to downplay pervasive gun violence in the United States.
During the March 15 edition of Cam & Company, Edwards alleged that gun violence prevention activists, organizations, and the media are “much more interested in researching reasons why we should go after the Second Amendment rights of Americans” than in fighting the opioid epidemic.
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): The media, the anti-gun activists out there, deep-pocketed billionaires like Michael Bloomberg -- Bloomberg has his own school of public health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. And they seem sadly much more interested in researching reasons why we should go after the Second Amendment rights of Americans than they do in fighting this epidemic.
During another broadcast the next week, Edwards read a list of opioid overdose rates compared to homicide rates in several states. He then claimed that the “mainstream media tries to tell us that we need to be more concerned about things like The Hearing Protection Act or national right to carry reciprocity,” both NRA legislative priorities that would weaken gun laws nationally. Edwards went on to emphasize the opioid overdose epidemic, saying that is “what we need to be concerned about. … Not bills that are out there respecting and restoring and strengthening our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
During another March broadcast of his show, Edwards complained that the national media is “not talking much about … the staggering spike in overdose deaths” and that the gun violence epidemic “gets more attention.”
In addition to these examples, Media Matters' regular monitoring of Edwards’ programming and writing has identified commentary that uses the opioid epidemic to downplay gun violence as an emerging talking point for the NRA.
For example, in a March 15 article titled “The Real Epidemic” on the online edition of NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom, Edwards compared West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate to Chicago’s homicide rate and claimed that the media is too busy pushing stronger gun laws to “pay more than scattered attention to the unfolding devastation caused by opioid overdoses.”
He also claimed that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “has his own Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, but they seem to be much more interested in doing research on why we supposedly need more gun control laws than in finding solutions to the soaring overdose death rates.”
Contrary to Edwards’ claims, Bloomberg has taken significant steps to battle the opioid epidemic. While serving as mayor, Bloomberg created the Mayor’s Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse to address a six-fold increase in overdoses in New York City between 2004 and 2010. In September 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg “is donating $300 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore to finance an ambitious effort to target opioid addiction, gun violence and other issues that are shortening lives and disrupting communities across the U.S.”
The opioid epidemic is undoubtedly a growing problem that is devastating communities nationwide. But it is unfair for the NRA to use one epidemic to downplay another.
In February 2013, the National Physicians Alliance declared gun violence to be “a public health issue that has reached epidemic proportions.” In a December 2015 opinion piece for U.S. News & World Report, the chief medical officer of the New York State Office of Mental Health Dr. Lloyd Sederer called gun violence “a deadly infectious disease” which “know[s] few boundaries.”
On average, roughly 100,000 people are shot annually in the United States, and this figure does not include incidents that don’t result in physical injury, such as using a gun to threaten or intimidate someone. In 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 385 mass shootings, and 672 children ages 11 or under were killed or injured by guns.
NRATV has effectively served as a propaganda arm for President Donald Trump since he was elected. In a January video, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre declared that his group was “Donald Trump’s strongest, most unflinching, ally.”
As a consequence, the NRA threw in its lot with Trump as he led congressional Republicans in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite evidence that doing so would actually make the opioid epidemic much worse. According to Vox, the ACA expanded health care coverage to about “2.8 million Americans with drug use disorders,” and repealing the legislation could leave millions of addicts “stranded without potentially lifesaving care. If the Republicans’ attempt to replace the ACA had been successful, it would have “flatly reduce[d] coverage” and “water[ed] down coverage requirements for addiction treatment.” But that is something you aren’t likely to hear about on NRATV.
NRA To Launch Ads Against The “Anti-Freedom” “Propaganda Machine” New York Times
The National Rifle Association’s news outlet NRATV announced a new “series of messages” against The New York Times that will air on the Fox News Channel beginning Monday. The NRA previewed the ad with the claim that the newspaper has “gone on the offensive to take away your liberties.”
The new NRA ad evidences a new phenomenon since the election of President Donald Trump where the gun group now routinely labels protected speech reporting that it doesn’t like as oppositional to traditional democratic values.
On the April 7 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield called the Times “a liberal propaganda machine that is out of control,” and claimed the newspaper has carried out an “assault on journalism.” He then played a preview of a message featuring NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre in which LaPierre claimed the media has “weaponized the First Amendment against the Second,” and that America “would have fallen long ago” had people placed their trust in the “failing American news media.”
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Well, they will lie, they will deceive, they will exploit the ignorance of so many Americans, all with one goal. They will lie, deceive it all, all with the goal to push an anti-freedom agenda that includes an assault on your Second Amendment rights. I’m talking, of course, about The New York Times. A liberal propaganda machine that is out of control. This machine has gone on the offensive to take away your liberties. This machine has gone on the offensive to make an assault on journalism and weaponize it. The New York Times is upping its fight, so are we here at NRATV. So sit back, we are going on the offensive with a series of messages that will air on Fox News Channel starting Monday. Here is a preview.
WAYNE LAPIERRE (NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CEO): To every dishonest member of the failing American news media, let me explain why you’ve never been less trusted, less credible, or less respected. For decades you ignored calls from millions of gun owners to just tell the truth. All you had to do was just get the facts right about our guns, and our freedom. But you never even pretended to listen. Instead, you weaponized the First Amendment against the Second. And now the whole country sees you for the mockery we’ve always known. Your claim to the truth is as legitimate as a thief’s. If the fate of individual freedom had rested in your hands, America would have fallen long ago. But Americans put their trust somewhere else, and now in that place stands the most trusted defender of individual freedom in American history. We’re the National Rifle Association of America, and we’re freedom’s safest place.
The NRA has previously run messages against The New York Times for fact-checking the Trump administration. On February 3, after the newspaper corrected Trump aide Kellyanne Conway for her “Bowling Green Massacre” falsehood, NRATV issued a tweet that claimed the Times was “aiding terrorists” by correcting Conway as opposed to covering the “threat of ISIS.”
— NRATV (@NRATV) February 3, 2017
On February 27, days after the Times aired a promotional TV ad during the Oscars about the importance of journalism in the Trump era, the NRA fired back with its own 75 second ad claiming Americans have “stopped looking to The New York Times for the truth.” The NRA ad claimed the Times ignored several major news stories because they didn’t show liberals in a positive light, but according to a February 28 ThinkProgress post, the ad missed “that the newspaper did, in fact, cover every event it mentions, often with extensive reporting.”
Since Trump was elected, NRATV has effectively become a pro-Trump propaganda arm that routinely labels protected speech fact-checking and reporting on the president as an “assault against freedom and the Constitution,” and a plot to destroy the United States. Stinchfield has gone as far as to say the reports raising critical questions about Trump’s transition team were “anti-patriotic.”
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A week after ending a weekly segment that mocked victims of gun violence in Chicago, iHeartRadio’s Michael Berry said he hasn’t “had any racial conversations since I got in trouble, so maybe we’ll delve back into that” and added that he missed doing the segment.
Berry previously hosted a weekly segment on The Michael Berry Show, which is syndicated in several major media markets and broadcast by iHeartRadio, in which he mocked victims of gun violence in Chicago. His commentary included making fun of victims’ names with racially charged comments and joking about where on their bodies the victims sustained the shooting injuries. Berry called the segment the “Chicago Weekend Crime Report” and the “Butcher Bill.”
Controversy around the segment arose after a February 27 announcement in Talkers magazine said iHeartRadio would honor Berry with a “talk personality of the year” award at the March 5 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Following that announcement, Media Matters published a post documenting Berry’s history of mocking gun violence victims and using other extreme rhetoric, including his claim in 2010 that someone should blow up a mosque proposed for a site near ground zero in New York City.
The Chicago Tribune and WGN reported on Berry’s comments, including his ridicule of the name of an innocent 14-year-old bystander gunned down in a drive-by shooting and his frequent call for listeners of his show to play “bingo” with victims’ gunshot injuries.
The 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards passed without any indication of whether Berry actually received the award. iHeartRadio has not discussed Berry publicly and has not confirmed whether he was honored. (On March 24, Media Matters and 20 civil rights and gun violence prevention groups sent a letter to iHeartMedia CEO Robert Pittman asking him to publicly state whether Berry received the award.)
For his part, Berry announced on March 10 that he was canceling the segment and offered an apology, promising to “make better decisions” about the words he uses. Berry’s apology also included the self-serving explanation that he merely meant to “highlight” the “precious lives” being lost in Chicago with a feature “that was tinged in humor.” A review of Berry’s “Chicago Weekend Crime Report” indicates that instead, his segments were filled with callous ridicule.
Berry set aside any contrition for the segment during his March 24 broadcast, telling callers, “We haven’t had any racial conversations since I got in trouble, so maybe we’ll delve back into that,” and stating that “we all” miss the segment.
CALLER: You got to bring up chaos from New York City.
BERRY: “Chaos from Harlem,” yes, “Chaos” needs to be back. We haven’t had any racial conversations since I got in trouble, so maybe we’ll delve back into that. Caller, you’re up.
CALLER: Yeah, I miss you in the “Chicago Crime Report.”
BERRY: Yeah, well, we all do. We all do.
The argument, first at a gas station and then outside a home, started over missing car keys.
In the early hours of Monday morning, police stepped in to quell the dispute between Allen Cashe and his girlfriend, Latina Herring, at a Sanford, FL, gas station. Then hours later they responded to a 911 call for an "aggravated battery" and found Cashe arguing with Herring outside on the front yard of her home, WFTV 9 reported.
Just after 6 a.m. that day, the police were summoned once again, but this time they found a blood bath. "The scene was one of the worst scenes our investigators have ever walked into," Sanford police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told reporters. "It was horrific."
Police say Cashe had shown up that morning armed with an AK-47-style assault weapon, kicked down the door and shot and killed Herring. He then shot her father and her two sons, 7 and 8 years old, who were sleeping on the couch. The 8-year-old subsequently died. Fleeing the scene, Cashe opened fire on two strangers, including an 18-year-old high school student waiting at a nearby bus stop.
That was Monday. One day before, in Cincinnati, OH, 17 people were shot at the Cameo nightclub when a “mini brawl” sparked gunmen to open fire on a crowd of approximately 200 revelers, according to WCPO Cincinnati. It marked the bloodiest shooting in the nation so far this year, according to Cincinnati.com and the Gun Violence Archive.
“The hospital was so crowded, all the seats were taken in the emergency room,” one local pastor told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “The emergency room was literally standing room only." The city’s mayor said the gun rampage marked “one of the worst days in the history of Cincinnati.”
Here’s what was so strange about the media coverage for the mass shootings that unfolded within one day of each other, and which involved 23 shooting victims: There wasn’t very much news coverage at all, outside of the local press attention.
For instance, The New York Times did not cover either gun rampage this week, according to search via Nexis. (Two AP articles were aggregated on the Times' website.)
Broadcast news coverage of the Cincinnati nightclub mass shooting and Sanford shooting was equally light, according to a review of transcripts in Nexis and Snapstream for the terms "Cincinnati" or "nightclub" and "Sanford." The Florida shooting was mentioned on broadcast news just once, on ABC World News Tonight on Monday. CBS mentioned the nightclub tragedy just three times, including during Sunday's evening news broadcast and again Monday morning during CBS This Morning and CBS Morning News. ABC ran two segments on Sunday on the shows Good Morning America and World News Sunday, while NBC mentioned the shooting on its Sunday and Monday editions of Today. The outlets appear to have moved on from 2017's highest victim shooting as of Monday morning.
The timid coverage of these shootings reminds us the extent to which horrific news, and specifically horrific gun-related news, gets quietly tabled and pushed aside.
Gun violence in America represents a raging health epidemic, but you’d never know it based on the news coverage.
That’s important because how can a nation have a debate about gun violence when even mass shootings aren't thoroughly covered as big news?
And please note this: Virtually all of the 23 victims in both the Florida and Ohio gun rampages were people of color. Is it possible the national news media would have devoted more time and resources to the Cincinnati gun rampage if it had occurred at a mostly white nightclub on a college campus? I certainly think it’s likely.
Meanwhile, what else would have triggered wildly different media responses to the Sanford and Cincinnati killings? Answer: any hint of a terrorism angle.
On that front, news consumers know the drill: When a mass shooting involves the possibility of terrorism, media outlets compete to see who can produce more reports and, usually, who can produce the most heated analysis. For instance, it sure seemed to me like cable news interest in the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale, FL, airport in January dropped when it became clear that the gun massacre was committed by a homegrown shooter unrelated to jihad terror.
There’s obviously been a normalization over the years for mass shootings, as the lacking coverage from Sanford and Cincinnati indicates. And who benefits from that normalization? The National Rifle Association and the Republican Party, which supports the gun group’s every radical initiative.
Of course the NRA and the GOP don’t want the press to treat gun violence as the health crisis that it is. And of course the NRA and the GOP do want to the press to casually look away as mass shootings unfold with random deadliness. The conservative movement is in favor of normalizing gun violence and of the media omitting context about the epidemic.
Many conservatives don’t want the press to constantly connect the dots between American gun rampages, or to chronically mention that roughly 100,000 people are shot in America each year. Or that each week, approximately 1,565 patients are treated in emergency rooms for firearm-related injuries. Or that among the world's 23 wealthiest countries, 87 percent of all children killed by guns are American children.
As of March 28, 2017, this year there have been:
-3,516 gun deaths
-6,748 gun injuries
-496 unintentional shootings
-71 mass shootings
— Gun Violence Archive (@GunDeaths) March 28, 2017
Interestingly, just days before the deadly Florida and Ohio shootings, CNN.com did what more news outlets ought to be doing: It published a comprehensive piece that put American gun violence in perspective by detailing the extraordinary economic cost the country pays each year to treat our gun epidemic.
Note that the death toll is likely to rise in coming years because “patients are now more likely to die from a gunshot wound than they were even 10 years ago,” presumably thanks to the increasingly powerful and sophisticated guns being manufactured and sold in the U.S.
“To be blunt, instead of a 2-centimeter hole, you are seeing a 3-centimeter hole with more damage. And there are more wounds, so the team has to repair more damage," the study’s author told CNN.
Following the shootout in Cincinnati, where panicked clubgoers were forced to flee rampaging gunmen, the Cincinnati Enquirer stepped forward with a truth-telling editorial (emphasis added):
We hear a lot from politicians these days about the threat of a foreign enemy, yet terrorism happens every day on city streets around the country. This madness has to stop. Too many lives are lost every year in Cincinnati and nationwide to savage, mindless and inhuman gun violence. Mass shootings in America, tragically, are becoming too commonplace.
One way to address the madness is for the press to see the country’s gun violence for what it is -- a uniquely American epidemic.
NRA And Trump Stab Hunters In The Back To Serve Oil And Gas Interests
The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist, Chris Cox, bragged about attending a White House ceremony where President Donald Trump signed legislation repealing an Obama-era regulation favored by conservation and hunting groups that gave citizens a greater say in corporations’ plans to mine, log, and drill on federally managed public lands.
During the March 28 edition of NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Cox said he was “honored” to be invited to the White House to represent the NRA, and claimed that repealing this “last-minute Obama" regulation would be good for “sportsmen's access” as well as good for “business interest.” Host Grant Stinchfield praised the president’s invitation as “another sign that we have a friend in the White House”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So first off before we get to the [Neil] Gorsuch confirmation, you were at the White House yesterday. This just seems to me -- they invite you there as another sign that we have a friend in the White House, the NRA does.
CHRIS COX: Well they invited the National Rifle Association there and I was honored to represent our members all across the country. The president was signing a number of different bills into law through the Congressional Review Act. All of these last-minute Obama regulations that they put through, they’re taking a look at all of those. We saw one recently with the Social Security Administration where we were able to fix that. What this one yesterday, the one of particular interest to us, was the Bureau of Land Management, BLM. They manage almost 250 million acres, that’s about the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined -- a little bigger than Texas and Oklahoma combined. So whether it's sportsmen’s access or business interest, removing that power out of D.C., putting it back to the states is good for sportsmen, it's good for America. So I was honored to be over there and it's a nice change because we know Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been doing that.
The repeal invalidated the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule, which was created to “increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology to decide whether and where drilling, mining and logging will happen on public land.” Rolling it back would also prevent the agency from creating similar regulations in the future because it was repealed under the Congressional Review Act.
In February, 19 sportsmen and conservation groups, including Oregon Hunters Association, the Wildlife Management Institute, and Pheasants Forever, wrote a letter to the Natural Resources Committee opposing efforts to repeal the Planning 2.0 rule, saying the rule both increased “federal agency transparency” and incorporated “best practices in land-use planning” while also maintaining the “cooperating agency role of .... local governments.” When the rule was enacted in 2016, the Montana Wildlife Association called the regulation “a boon to Montana hunters,” explaining that “Planning 2.0 will allow sportsmen (and every citizen) to have a bigger role in deciding how they want to see their favorite spots to hunt and fish managed.”
This is not the first time the National Rifle Association has sided with corporate interests over hunters and conservationists. According to a 2014 Mother Jones feature, oil and gas companies are some of the biggest donors to the NRA, donating between $1.3 million and $5.6 million in 2012. Following large donations, the NRA has repeatedly “teamed up” with these companies to lobby for anti-conservation legislation in Congress. From Mother Jones:
The NRA calls itself "the number-one hunter's organization in America." But two new reports published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Gun Truth Project and Corporate Accountability International show that, following contributions from oil and gas companies, the NRA lent its support to legislation that would open up more federal public lands to fossil-fuel extraction, compromising the wilderness that many hunters value.
In 2012, six oil and gas companies contributed a total of between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the NRA, according to CAP. (The companies are Clayton Williams Energy, J.L. Davis Gas Consulting, Kamps Propane, Barrett Brothers Oil and Gas, Saulsbury Energy Services, and KS Industries.)
Despite these concerns from parts of its longtime constituency, the NRA teamed up with oil and gas interests—including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association—to lobby for the bill. The NRA explained its position with an appeal to hunters and a dig at conservationists. McCarthy's bill, it said, "will make public hunting lands not suitable for wilderness designation available to millions of Americans that are unfairly closed out from them now…protecting the ability of the American people to access lands that belong, not to the government, or to extremist environmental groups, but to the people."
A coalition of 21 civil rights and gun violence prevention groups signed a letter expressing concern that iHeartRadio has not confirmed whether it gave a “talk personality of the year” award to a conservative radio host who regularly featured a racially charged segment dedicated to mocking victims of Chicago gun violence.
For several years, conservative syndicated radio host Michael Berry hosted a “Butcher Bill” segment in which he ridiculed Chicago’s gun violence victims and smeared the Black Lives Matter movement. Berry also played “bingo” with the victims’ injuries and mockingly suggested that if “you don’t want to hear shots and feel pain” in Chicago -- referring to the common police blotter description of what happened to victims -- you should wear “earmuffs.” In a February 27 press release, Talkers magazine announced that Berry would receive an award for “best news/talk” personality of the year at the March 5 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles.
After receiving criticism for his segment, Berry announced that The Michael Berry Show would stop airing the weekly “Butcher Bill” segment, saying he has “to make better decisions.” But it is not clear whether he actually received the award, and iHeartRadio has not answered questions about the matter.
Media Matters and 20 other civil rights and gun violence prevention groups are asking iHeartRadio to break its silence and publicly state whether it honored Berry. From the March 24 letter:
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