The advertising campaigns for the National Rifle Association's streaming channel NRA TV have become something of a red-meat factory for its most ardent supporters and a target for criticism as the group turns its aim toward the media. The latest commercial featuring NRA TV host and former KXAS-TV (NBC 5) reporter Grant Stinchfield doesn't stray from this trend.
The ad called "Our Greatest Weapon is Truth" hit the web Feb. 12 and features a flat-screen TV in a brick-walled room churning out clip after clip of network news shows and cable news coverage of gun issues and President Donald Trump. The clips include late-night comedy shows such as HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Alec Baldwin doing his Emmy-winning impersonation of Trump on Saturday Night Live.
The camera pulls back to reveal the former NBC 5 reporter holding a sledgehammer. Stinchfield doesn't say a word. He just pulls down the goggles resting on his forehead and swings the sledgehammer into the TV screen.
"We filmed it in an awesome old building down in the Cedars area of Dallas," Stinchfield said. "I think the warehouse, gritty feel is what gave the video much of its edge. It only took an hour or two to shoot. Three takes, three TVs and a hell of a lot of fun."
Just like other recent NRA TV ads — including one released last summer featuring conservative TV pundit and The Blaze host Dana Loesch telling The New York Times, "We're coming for you" — Stinchfield's ad generated a lot of viral attention. The ad earned praise from NRA supporters on social media and in the video's comments sections.
"As expected, NRA TV viewers loved the ad," Stinchfield said. "Also as expected, left-wing, socialist, anti-gunners hated it."
GQ's Luke Darby called it "baffling" and that "smashing a TV doesn't prove any of those clips wrong — it just means that its owner needs to go to Best Buy tomorrow."
Even right-wing blog Hot Air called it "alarmism about the media or Antifa or, uh, Rod Rosenstein" in an age already rife with partisan, political polarization.
Stinchfield said the reactions prove the ad's point.
"Their anger over a video that didn't even include a gun or any words proved my point: It's not really about the guns to them," Stinchfield said. "It's about my message of empowerment, freedom
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough became one of the more vocal critics of the NRA TV ads. The Morning Joe host posted on his Twitter page Monday that the gun lobby group's ads "over the past year have incited their members to violence. I fear that their continued campaigns of hate will end up getting someone killed."
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Stinchfield responded on his NRA TV show, accusing Scarborough's words of "inciting hate against us law-abiding gun-owners." He called suggestions that his ads were inciting violence against journalists or satirists "sheer idiocy."
"Only a liberal would think a video is responsible for people's actions and not the people themselves," Stinchfield said. "Not to mention they don't mention violence at all, and smashing a TV to a normal human being is just funny. NRA members like me despise violence. It's why many of us carry a gun, to prevent it."
Two days later, the nation's attention turned to Parkland, Florida, where former student Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people — 14 students, the school's athletic director, an assistant football coach and a geography teacher, according to CNN. Stinchfield responded with similar ideas put forth by other conservative pundits and gun advocates, promoting "more armed security on school campuses," "more police or trained faculty who volunteer to carry guns" and "to have more good guys with guns than bad." The latter is similar to the phrase coined by NRA President Wayne LaPierre in 2012 after the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
"As a father of an 8-year-old boy, my sincerest desire is to have all kids be safe at school," Stinchfield said. "That's what all Americans want. We just disagree on how to do it. I think about everyone affected by these shootings every day. I pray God gives them peace. No parent should ever bury a child. So let's protect kids like we protect most entertainers, athletes