In a series of videos released earlier this month, the National Rifle Association declared war on mainstream media and their "globalists masters", a sign of the group’s transformation into an advocate for conservative causes beyond protecting the second amendment.
Predictably, the Associated Press is not happy. In a story about the new campaign - which debuted on the NRA’s NRATV, a web-video platform run by the association – the AP accused the NRA of employing dangerous rhetoric that risked inciting violence against journalists.
“The election of President Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress meant the National Rifle Association could probably rest easy that gun laws wouldn’t change for at least four years. But the NRA has begun a campaign not against pending legislation but what it sees as liberal forces bent on undoing the progress it’s made — and the political powerhouse is resorting to language that some believe could incite violence.
Using the hashtags #counterresistance and #clenchedfistoftruth, the NRA has put out a series of videos that announce a “shot across the bow,” and say the gun-rights group is “coming for you” and that “elites ... threaten our very survival,” terms that suggest opponents are enemy combatants.”
In a video published earlier this month, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch warned the New York Times that the NRA would be “coming for you," adding that the NRA "had re-dedicated itself to exposing the lies of the mainstream press" while shining an uncomfortable spotlight on the relationship between the MSM and "globalist, corporate elites" who oppose the agenda of President Donald Trump... at least until Steve Bannon's departure, which has since been taken over by former Goldman bankers.
"The times are burning and the media elites have been caught holding the match" Loesch said.
"We’ve had it with your narratives, your propaganda, your fake news. We’ve had it with your constant protection of your Democrat overlords, your refusal to acknowledge any truth that upsets the fragile construct that you believe is real life. And we’ve had it with your tone-deaf assertion that you are in any way truth or fact-based journalism,” Loesch says. “Consider this the shot across your proverbial bow. ... In short? We’re coming for you.”
The AP countered with various “expert” soundbites who alleged the NRA could inspire an unstable person to incite violence. One of the AP’s sources, a director at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at UPenn, blamed the NRA for trying to incite violence with its videos.
“Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said the tone and language is “overwrought rhetoric” that, viewed by the wrong person, could lead to violence. The kicker on one of the videos — “We’re coming for you” — is straight out of the movies, she said, and “that phrase means that violence is imminent and we will perpetrate it.”
Another source, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Cortland, said the NRA cribbed its “hyperangry” approach from – who else - President Trump.
“They’re not inventing this hyperangry, nasty partisan tone but piggybacking on Trump’s approach. Of course, NRA voters by and large are Trump voters, so they would be sympathetic to that kind of message,” said Robert Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at State University of New York at Cortland, who has examined the firearms industry and Second Amendment issues extensively.
Spitzer, a member of the NRA as well as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said it’s a pattern the NRA has exhibited as the group evolved from an almost exclusive focus on gun safety into a political beacon for conservatives who fear changes to the Second Amendment and the gun industry.
“It was Bill Clinton in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, it was John McCain. It was Hillary Clinton. It was the United Nations. They’ve held up the U.N. as ready to swoop in and take everybody’s guns,” Spitzer said. “The focus of their ire has changed, but the basic message has been the same.”
In an interesting twist, the AP insinuated that the NRA’s aggressive rhetoric was a ploy to revive gun sales, which have stagnated since Trump took office.
“The friction between the gun lobby and the media isn’t new. But critics of the NRA contend the organization is relying on the “fake news” mantra started by Trump to whip up its followers after a dip in gun sales that has taken place since Trump succeeded President Barack Obama, who favored stricter gun-control laws.”
Joe Plenzler, a Marine veteran and NRA member, said the association had “gone well out of the bounds of any sort of sane responsible behavior.”
“Lately, it seems like they’ve gone well out of the bounds of any sort of sane responsible behavior. If you want to advocate for the Second Amendment, which I unapologetically believe in, that’s fine,” he said. “But I think at the point where you are going to demonize half the American population in a recruitment effort to get more members, I’ve got a big problem with that.”
So did the NRA cross a line by engaging in a similar - but opposite - campaign to that of the Trump "resistance" (hence dubbed #counterresistance) and has it gone too far by accusing the press of creating "narratives, propaganda, and fake news", the same way the press accuses the "alt right" of doing the same, and who is - ultimately - right? Readers can decide for themselves after watching the video below: