The National Rifle Association has shut down production at NRATV and cut ties with advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, the New York Times reports.
It comes amid a tumultuous year for the NRA that’s seen Oliver North step down as president in April. The gun rights group was involved in a legal battle with Ackerman McQueen, a contractor for NRATV. North hosted a documentary series on NRATV called “American Heroes.” Ackerman’s employees included Dana Loesch. They’ll no longer be the public faces of the NRA, according to the Times.
“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre wrote in a message to members that the Times reported was expected to be sent out by Wednesday.
According to the Times, the flashpoint for the schism within the NRA, leading the NRA to sever ties with Ackerman McQueen and shut down NRATV, started with an NRATV program editing a Thomas the Tank Engine video, mocking ethnic diversity on the children’s program by portraying the show’s talking trains in Ku Klux Klan hoods. That video was originally surfaced by Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog, which has monitored NRATV since its inception.
“So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”
Ackerman told the Times it’s “not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner.”
In reaction to the reports, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, issued the following statement:
NRATV was a malevolent and destructive force that infected public discussions with dangerous misinformation, fomented extremism, and increasingly promoted actual white supremacists.
The fact that NRATV was brought down due in large part to internal strife that catalyzed following public blowback over NRATV attacking the children’s show Thomas the Tank for its diversity efforts is another potent reminder that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
While it was long past time that NRATV was held accountable for its damaging effects, make no mistake: the National Rifle Association did not shut down NRATV because of the lies or bigotry of NRATV. Instead, they only acted when NRATV’s existence threatened the organization’s bottom line and exposed the depths of corruption by the NRA’s leaders.
In recent months, the @NRA has— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 26, 2019
—ousted its president
—sued its decades-long PR firm
—faced $50 million counter-suit
—suspended its top lobbyist
—ended flagship platform NRATV
—been probed for Russia ties
—seen non-profit status in jeopardy
—alleged a coup attempt
UPDATE – BREAKING:
The news comes days after the N.R.A. implicated Cox in a plot to oust Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s chief executive. Cox has adamantly denied the allegations.— Danny Hakim (@dannyhakim) June 26, 2019