Timothy Johnson

Alex Jones Claimed Facebook Would Ban Him If He Kept Using An Anti-Trans Slur. He Hasn't Stopped -- And He's Still On Facebook.

lex Jones has claimed several times that Facebook executives told him he would be banned from the platform for his use of the anti-trans slur “tranny.” Despite supposedly receiving these warnings, Jones has not backed down and continues to use the disparaging term on his show, which he streams on Facebook Live. Jones is a right-wing conspiracy theorist and ally of President Donald Trump with a history of anti-LGBTQ extremism.

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You Won't Believe Where Trump and the RNC Are Spending Their Advertising Dollars

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee -- a joint fundraising operation run by President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee -- is running a campaign advertisement on toxic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ YouTube channel.

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8 Preposterous NRA Defenses of the AR-15

In the wake of yet another massacre carried out with an AR-15 assault weapon, here are eight ridiculous defenses of the murder machine from the National Rifle Association, a major recipient of donations from assault weapons makers.

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NRA National Spokeswoman Dana Loesch Lied Right to a Parkland Victim's Face

Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a simple question for National Rifle Association (NRA) national spokesperson Dana Loesch during CNN’s gun violence town hall: “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic ... weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?”

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Did the NRA Help Train the Florida High School Shooter?

NRA Foundation -- the National Rifle Association subsidiary responsible for the group’s school safety initiative -- helped fund the marksmanship training of the gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, this week.

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Alex Jones Is Hawking a Pro-Trump, White Nationalist Children's Book

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is selling a “limited edition” of a children’s book that depicts President Donald Trump as a cartoon bunny named Thump. The book promotes white nationalist imagery and makes light of the video of Trump admitting to sexually assaulting women and the national outrage that followed.

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The National Rifle Association’s Despicable First Year as Propagandists for Trump

Standing before a raucous crowd of supporters in April 2015 during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, the group’s longtime leader Wayne LaPierre snarled into the microphone, “Eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough!

One and a half years later, LaPierre got his wish as an aging white man again captured the presidency.

In a promotional video published by the NRA on January 3, three weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, LaPierre stood before a shadowy backdrop at the NRA studios, looked into the camera, and said, “We are Donald Trump's strongest, most unflinching ally. The powerful partner he needs to get things done on behalf of American freedom. Join our ranks. Donate to our cause. And together, we will truly make America great again.”

Though Trump had already won the election by that time, LaPierre still adopted a defiant and apocalyptic tone fitting of the NRA’s siege mentality; he castigated the press, called out conservative groups for abandoning Trump after he bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women, and warned viewers of enemies at every turn.

During the presidential campaign, the NRA had broken its own spending records in Trump's support and now it was time for the organization to try to cash in. In the video, LaPierre claimed that Trump was “the most openly pro-Second Amendment presidential candidate in history” — glazing over the fact that Trump previously supported several gun safety measures that would normally be disqualifying violations of NRA orthodoxy.

Despite Trump’s past stances, the NRA and Trump were the perfect political match. The then-president-elect and the country’s foremost gun group shared an affinity for culture war rhetoric, driven by white racial grievancesretrograde views of women, and anti-immigrantanti-free press, and pro-authoritarian sentiments. They also shared a penchant for spreading division through fearmongering and peddling conspiracy theories.

On Inauguration Day, the NRA flipped a switch, pivoting from a group that often raised the spectre of violent insurrection against a presidential administration it didn’t like to a group that now raises the spectre of violence against critics of a presidential administration it loves.

Trump’s rise coincided with a radical change in tone from the NRA’s expanded media operations

In its efforts to back the president’s every move during his first year, the NRA turned to its media outlet NRATV, the gun group’s primary messaging mechanism. The NRA has had its own media operation for 13 years. Launched in 2004, it was originally known as NRA News, and largely revolved around a weekday three-hour program inspired by talk radio called Cam & Company. In October 2016, the outlet was rebranded and expanded as NRATV, a 24-hour online stream of expanded live programming and pre-recorded segments.

The personalities brought on to fill the airtime were decidedly Trumpian.

The NRA hired Texas-based conservative radio host Grant Stinchfield to anchor the most prominent addition to the lineup, an eponymous news show providing hourly live updates in the morning and early afternoon. Stinchfield soon echoed Trump’s bellicosity, comparing a Jewish political opponent to a Nazi Gestapo member, suggesting that North Korea drop a nuclear bomb on California, and claiming that former President Barack Obama carried out an intentional plan to “inflict harm on America.” Another new hire was conservative commentator Bill Whittle, who had spent the previous year appearing on an “alt-right” web series to promote discredited theories about race and intelligence and to make racist claims, such as suggesting African-Americans are slaves of the Democratic Party, trading their supposed willingness to engage in voter fraud for welfare. NRATV also greatly expanded the role of NRA News’ Chuck Holton, who would go on to claim on NRATV that Black Lives Matter was poised to commit mass rape and murder against whites.

This new stable of personalities has cemented the media output of the self-proclaimed “oldest civil rights organization” as leading source of divisiveness in America.

The NRA’s war on the right to protest the government

Hand-in-hand with the hateful commentary on NRATV is a pattern of attacks on basic freedoms and rights in service of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. One of these instances was an outrageous attack on those who use their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly to speak out against Trump.

Narrated by conservative radio host Dana Loesch, an NRATV commentator who was elevated to serve as the NRA’s national spokesperson in February, the one-minute spot depicted a dark version of America that is clearly at odds with reality. Using footage of isolated incidents of property damage and police confrontations, Loesch tarred the largely peaceful resistance movement as a violent force destroying America and delivered a line that was criticized as an incitement to violence against Trump critics: “The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” The message was clear: Stop complaining about Trump in the public square or face the wrath of the nation’s premier firearm group.

The Washington Post reported that the spot had angered gun owners with its extremism, although the video found a fan in conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones, who praised the NRA’s “more hardcore” direction. In response to criticism, Loesch and Stinchfield said the group would never apologize.

The controversy seems to have only emboldened the NRA’s attacks on Trump critics, with follow-up videos employing similarly incendiary language to attack those who use their First Amendment right to protest the president, including one that claimed opponents of Trump will “perish in the political flames of their own fires.”

Tellingly, when deadly violence was actually unleashed on peaceful protesters — after a man who admired Hitler drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA, injuring 19 people and killing activist Heather Heyer — NRATV was conspicuously silent.

NRA takes its attacks on the press to authoritarian heights

For years, the NRA has regarded the media as a participant in a conspiracy by elites to attack gun ownership. While that has continued during the Trump administration, NRATV also began to advance the narrative that critical reporting on the president is oppositional to American values and — bizarrely enough — incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.

Authoritarian claims about the role of the press since the launch of NRATV include:

  • positioning reporting on Trump’s admission of sexaul assault as part of “the mainstream media’s assault against freedom and the Constitution”;
  • claiming it’s “anti-patriotic” and part of a plot to “destroy our republic” to critically report on the Trump administration;
  • saying it was “anti-American” for media to report on Trump’s inflammatory comments on North Korea; and
  • wildly attacking specific outlets, including telling The New York Times that “we’re coming for you,” and claiming The Washington Post has a “role in the organized anarchy of the violent left.”

NRATV gaslights the public with pro-Trump propaganda

NRATV personalities have also been willing to serve as Baghdad Bobs for Trump by relaying patently false accounts of real world events. Among the lowlights:

  • purporting to offer a “direct quote” of what former FBI Director James Comey said about Trump and obstruction of justice during his testimony before Congress, but instead offering a fabricated quote that absolved Trump of wrongdoing;
  • advocating for the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by telling an alternate history of a racially charged prosecution Sessions spearheaded in the 1980s; and
  • tarring the Women’s March as violent by playing footage of a completely different protest where some participants broke windows.

What does the NRA have to show thus far as a result of these messaging techniques?

The obvious question is: What has the NRA’s divisiveness on steroids in 2017 achieved for the gun group’s agenda? The answer is thankfully little — at least thus far.

With Republican control of the White House and Congress, it is expected that the NRA agenda would move forward to some extent; but there is no way it is moving fast enough presently for the NRA to be satisfied. The group’s number one legislative priority, a bill to force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by all other states, has not been made law. It took until December for the NRA to convince Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to hold a House vote on the bill — it passed, but with less support than a version of the legislation voted on in 2011. The measure has also lost support in the Senate, where the bill would need 60 votes, with several former backers saying they wouldn’t vote for the bill again. Hearings for the NRA’s second biggest priority, a bill which would deregulate firearm silencers, were canceled following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in June and the bill was then shelved by Ryan following the October Las Vegas massacre.

Despite the lack of accomplishments in this first year, it’s important to always remember how intertwined much of Congress is with the gun lobby, making the advancement of NRA legislation a constant threat while anti-gun safety members hold a majority.

The speed with which the NRA could advance its agenda also depends on the outcomes of future elections. Thus far, the NRA has been inept in its electoral activities in the era of Trump. In November, statewide elections in Virginia, the NRA-endorsed candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general all lost. The NRA was also unsuccessful in its attempt to make reported child predator Roy Moore the junior U.S. Senator for Alabama.

While the NRA failed to secure several victories it surely thought it would achieve in its first year serving as a de facto media arm for the Trump White House, its luck could change in a moment’s notice. 2018’s nationwide elections are on the horizon — and the NRA’s divisive messaging operations require continued vigilance.

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23 Reasons Why the NRA Is Functionally Racist

In the October edition of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) magazine America’s 1st Freedom, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre takes on what he calls the “false notion” from the “gun-ban media” that “somehow the NRA is racist.”

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The Mainstream Media Is Normalizing Trump's Impeachable Offense

During the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency, broadcast evening news shows and Sunday political talk shows devoted a total of just over 10 minutes to discussing the allegation that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by receiving foreign government payments. The scant reporting that did address this issue failed to mention that such conduct is an impeachable offense. 

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Trump Brings His Devious Social Media Director, Dan Scavino, To The White House

President-elect Donald Trump’s newly announced assistant to the president and director of social media, Dan Scavino, frequently used social media while working on the Trump campaign to share links from sites that push fake news and conspiracy theories. He was also responsible for an anti-Semitic Trump campaign tweet and routinely attacked Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who cited Scavino as a reason she received death threats during the campaign.

Scavino, The Trump Campaign’s Social Media Director, Will Serve The Same Role In Trump’s White House. In a press release detailing the senior members of the incoming White House communications team, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Dan Scavino will serve as assistant to the president and director of social media, calling him a “key member of my team during the campaign and transition.” Scavino was “a lucky 16-year-old who happened to be in the right place at the right time” when in 1990 he was selected to caddie for Trump. He would later become general manager of Trump National Golf Club, then would “travel the world with Trump visiting courses” before becoming the social media director of the Trump campaign in February 2015. [Twitter, 12/22/2016; CNN.com, 7/5/2016]

Scavino Uses Twitter To Push Conspiracy Theories And Fake News Purveyors

Scavino Has Repeatedly Promoted Content From Alex Jones’ InfoWars Website. Scavino has repeatedly promoted stories from Trump ally Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website InfoWars. Jones believes the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, multiple school shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Boston Marathon bombing, among many other conspiracies theories. [Twitter, 7/26/153/3/167/28/16Media Matters12/1/16]

Scavino Has Also Repeatedly Shared Links To Stories On Sites Known For Pushing Fake News. Scavino has shared stories from outlets including Western Journalism, The Conservative Tribune, The Angry Patriot, and Gateway Pundit on Twitter. All four of these outlets have produced fabricated news stories labeled by fact-checking websites as “false” or completely “unproven.” [Twitter, 12/6/151/9/163/23/164/12/16; Snopes.com, 7/31/15Media Matters, 12/14/16]

Scavino Shared Hoax Video Purporting To Show “Syrian Refugees In Germany Rallying For ISIS.” BuzzFeed reported in December 2015 that Scavino “shared a video on Twitter Friday, falsely asserting that it showed Syrian refugees in Germany rallying for ISIS. The video, which has existed on YouTube since 2012, actually shows Salafist Muslims protesting an intentionally provocative rally held by an extreme right-wing group in Germany.” BuzzFeed noted that the video “has found new life on the Internet since November, when people on the far-Right began claiming that the clip depicted a pro-ISIS rally.” Scavino’s tweet has since been deleted. [BuzzFeed, 12/21/15; Twitter.com, 12/18/15]

Scavino Promoted A Smear That Ted Cruz Had An Affair With A Former Staffer. Mediaite reported that Scavino shared on Twitter a video that alleged Sen. Ted Cruz had an affair with Amanda Carpenter, a former staffer for the Texas senator. Carpenter, a CNN contributor, responded to Scavino’s tweet in an interview with Jake Tapper, denouncing the “sexist smears” directed against her. [Mediaite, 3/29/16]

Scavino Pushed False Trump Claim That “Thousands” Of New Jersey Muslims Celebrated 9/11. Scavino published multiple video news clips claiming to bolster Trump’s false claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks. The Washington Post’s fact-checker explained that the reporter in the clips “later tweeted that his reports did not back up Trump’s claim of ‘thousands’ cheering on the roofs” [The Washington Post11/22/15]

Scavino Pushed Conspiracy Theory Alleging Rupert Murdoch Manipulated A Poll To Make Trump Look Weak. During the GOP primary, Scavino suggested on Twitter that an NBC News/Wall Street Journal that showed Cruz leading Trump was manipulated by Journal owner Rupert Murdoch. Trump later attacked Murdoch over the poll, calling it a “Rupert Murdoch hit.”

[Twitter, 2/18/16Media Matters2/18/16]

Scavino Was Responsible For Trump’s Anti-Semitic “Sheriff’s Star”

As The Trump Campaign’s Social Media Director, Scavino Was Responsible For Sharing An Anti-Semitic Image On Social Media. On July 2, Trump’s official Twitter account shared an image showing opponent Hillary Clinton superimposed over a pile of money. The image included a Star of David with the text “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Mic.com reported that the image “was previously featured on 8chan's /pol/ -- an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump's rhetoric.” Before Trump’s campaign tweeted it, the image had also been shared on Twitter by a now-defunct account that often posted material “most people would consider racist or anti-Semitic,” according to PolitiFact. Responding to the ensuing controversy, Scavino released a statement in which he claimed the Star of David image was actually a “sheriff's badge -- which is available under Microsoft's 'shapes.'” Trump confirmed that Scavino “put out” the tweet. [Mic.com, 7/3/16; PolitFact, 7/5/16; CNN.com, 7/4/16Media Matters7/6/16]

Scavino Threatened And Attacked Megyn Kelly, Reportedly Leading To Her Receiving Death Threats

Scavino Threatened Fox’s Megyn Kelly After He Didn’t Like An Interview She Did With Newt Gingrich. After a contentious interview in which Fox host Megyn Kelly asked former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about sexual assault allegations against Trump, Scavino wrote on Twitter that Kelly is “not very smart” and also said, “Watch what happens to her after this election is over.” [Mediaite, 10/25/16; Twitter, 10/25/16; Twitter, 10/25/16]

Scavino Frequently Attacked Kelly On Twitter With The Hashtag “KellyFailed.” Angry over the fact that Kelly asked Trump during a debate about his past sexist statements, Scavino sent nine tweets using the hashtag #KellyFailed on August 6 and 7. [Twitter, accessed 12/22/16]

Kelly Later Cited Scavino As A Reason She Received Death Threats For Her Coverage Of Trump. The Guardian reported, “Journalist Megyn Kelly, who is under armed guard after receiving death threats, has accused Donald Trump’s social media director of stirring hatred on the internet.” Kelly said during a December talk in Washington, D.C., “It’s that far corner of the internet that really enjoys nastiness and threats and unfortunately there is a man who works for Donald Trump whose job it is to stir these people up and that man needs to stop doing that. His name is Dan Scavino.” [The Guardian12/6/16]

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Fox News Tells Young Children to Run at Active Shooters

A Fox & Friends demonstration where children neutralized a gunman during an active shooter situation offered dubious advice to parents, as experts emphasize that confronting the gunman should be "a last resort."

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NRA to Host 'Marquee' Event in 'Gun-Free Zone' After Describing Such Places as Advertisements for an 'Insane Killer'

The NRA is choosing to host the pinnacle event of its annual meeting at a venue that does not allow members of the public to carry firearms, a decision that stands in sharp contrast to claims from NRA leadership that "gun-free zones" are not safe and should be avoided.

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4 Reasons the NRA Is Losing the Culture Wars

Following intense legislative fights over gun safety legislation in 2013, the fight over gun policy exploded into the cultural world in 2014. And in that sphere, the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby are losing.

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Oops! Conservative Media Profiles the Wrong Loretta Lynch in Attempt to Scandalize Obama Appointee

Following publication of this, Breitbart.com added corrections to the articles that confused the two attorneys, noting at bottom that "[t]he Loretta Lynch identified earlier as the Whitewater attorney was, in fact, a different attorney." Later on November 9, Breitbart.com removed the article by Warner Todd Huston. The full article can be read here.

According to a November 8 Breitbart.com article by Warner Todd Huston, "few are talking about" the fact nominee Lynch "was part of Bill Clinton's Whitewater probe defense team in 1992." Huston pointed to a March 1992 New York Times article that "reported that Lynch was one of the Clintons' Whitewater defense attorneys as well as a 'campaign aide.'" And in a November 9 article Huston's colleague, Breitbart.com Senior Editor-at Large Joel Pollak wrote, "The connection to Whitewater ought to provide additional fodder for Republicans during Lynch's confirmation hearings":

The connection to Whitewater ought to provide additional fodder for Republicans during Lynch's confirmation hearings. It is odd that Obama chose someone so close to the Clintons--or perhaps not, given the prominent role played by Clinton insider John Podesta in the second term of the Obama White House. Lynch has been rewarded throughout her career for her political loyalty--not an unusual path up the career ladder for federal prosecutors, but certainly one that will allow the GOP, as well as Obama, to raise the political stakes.

The Loretta Lynch referred to in the New York Times article is a California based attorney who has worked on several prominent political campaigns, not Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. Obama's nominee is shown on the right, while the Loretta Lynch Breitbart refers to is on the left:

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Conservative website American Thinker made the same mistake, misidentifying the "Whitewater" Lynch as a graduate of Harvard -- the school attended by nominee Lynch.

Nominee Lynch became a federal prosecutor in 1990, two years before the other Lynch participated in the Whitewater investigation. In 1999 she was appointed by President Clinton as a U.S. Attorney and she currently serves as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

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NRA Backs Sheriff Who Said Enforcement of Gun Laws May Lead to Civil War With Feds

The National Rifle Association's media arm is defending a Maryland sheriff who warned that the enforcement of gun laws could lead to a civil war between his county and the federal government.

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NRA Floats Idea of Kids Needing to Show Gun Proficiency to Advance to the Next Grade

A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association suggests we can live up to the Founding Fathers' ideals by creating "gun-required zones," and making gun training for children "necessary to advance to the next grade."

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Nutso Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Claims Las Vegas Shooting Was Staged . . . by Harry Reid

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is alleging that a shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada that left two police officers and another victim dead was "absolutely staged" by the federal government.

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Fox Reporter Fabricates Hillary Clinton Quote: 'Nobody Should Have Guns'

Emily Miller, chief investigative reporter for Washington D.C.'s Fox affiliate, fabricated quotations to claim Hillary Clinton recently said, "Nobody should have guns" and "There's too many guns." In fact, Clinton expressed the opposite sentiment, referencing "the right of people to own guns."

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How Right-Wing Loons and Pro-Gun Nuts Blame Everything But Guns for Mass Shootings

When a mass shooting occurs, conservative media rush to blame mental health, video games, a lack of armed people present, and even liberal values -- anything but the fact that the shooter was able to get a gun.

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Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Campaigns with Ted Nugent Despite the Rocker's "Subhuman Mongrel" Slur of President Obama

Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is facing criticism over his decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent because of the rocker's inflammatory attacks on women and racially charged commentary about President Obama.

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The NRA Wants Members to Lie to Their Families at Thanksgiving . . . And Every Holiday

This year several ideological groups and news outlets are trying to prep their readers for the inevitable political conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table. But the National Rifle Association is taking a new tact -- it wants you to lie to your family members about gun violence.

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The 10 Worst Things NRA's Ted Nugent Said During His "Black Power" Concert Tour

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is well known for making inflammatory remarks during his performances, as evidenced by an infamous video from a 2007 concert where the machinegun-toting rocker called then-Sen. Barack Obama a "piece of shit" and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch."

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