Nets Join Dems in Painting Gun Rights Advocates as Violent Terrorists

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On Thursday and Friday, all three broadcast networks eagerly joined Virginia Democrats in attempting to smear gun rights advocates in the commonwealth as violent, racist terrorists who were plotting “a rerun of the deadly Charlottesville protests.” Reporters seized on Governor Ralph Northam declaring a “state of emergency” ahead of a pro-Second Amendment rally at the statehouse in Richmond.

“There are new fears tied to a pro-gun rally that’s scheduled in Virginia,” co-host Savannah Guthrie warned viewers on NBC’s Today show. Leading off the full report that followed, correspondent Geoff Bennett added to the hysteria: “The Virginia capital is bracing for violence ahead of next week’s gun rights rally. Officials are concerned it could be a rerun of the deadly Charlottesville protests that unfolded three years ago.”

 

 

After declaring “Virginia on high alert,” Bennett hyped the arrest of three neo-Nazis who were in no way affiliated with any of the groups organizing the upcoming peaceful demonstration:

Just days before thousands of gun rights activists are expected to rally at the state capital, the FBI arresting three alleged members of a violent white supremacist group on gun charges. The group is known as “The Base,” which is the English translation of “Al-Qaeda.” Law enforcement officials say the men had obtained weapons and discussed participating in the rally.

The reporter then touted: “Just one day earlier, Governor Ralph Northam declaring a state of emergency after learning armed militias and hate groups planned to join the protest.”

While briefly explaining that “protesters are expected to voice their opposition to tougher gun laws being proposed in the state” during Monday’s rally, Bennett reiterated: “Northam says he fears a repeat of the deadly 2017 march by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.” Turning to a woman on the street, the reporter asked: “Are you worried about what might happen on Monday?” She predictably reacted with concern to how he framed the story: “Yeah, yeah, definitely. If it’s anything like Charlottesville, that’s scary.”

To his credit, Bennett did seek out another woman who was a gun rights supporter, noting: “Some see the Governor’s action as an assault on their Second Amendment rights.” The unidentified woman told him: “We bear arms peacefully. We desire to keep and stay under the Constitution of the United States.”

Wrapping up the report, Bennett mentioned that “Organizers of the gun rights rally say they are encouraging peaceful protests.” Though he then felt the need to add that Northam “is also asking event organizers to disavow any group that would threaten to do violence.”

On CBS This Morning, fill-in co-host Michelle Miller panicked: “The arrest of three alleged white supremacists is raising alarms ahead of a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia.” She proclaimed: “The state’s governor says there is credible intelligence of potential violence at Monday’s event.” The headline “Gun Rally Threat” appeared on screen next to her as she introduced the segment.

Reporting from Richmond, correspondent Jeff Pegues sensationalized: “The arrest of the three men, Michelle, is really feeding this narrative that there could be violence here on Monday. In fact, investigators say the three men were targeting the event as a way of spreading their hate-filled ideology.”

“The arrests only reinforce concerns Monday’s rally could be a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville in 2017 unless officials intervene,” he feared moments later.

Talking to one of the protest organizers, Virginia Citizens Defense League president Philip Van Cleave, Pegues pressed: “Are you concerned that it could escalate into something you didn’t expect?” The reporter complained that Van Cleave “refuses to call off the event over the arrests.” For his part, Van Cleave pushed back: “We will not let them deter us or slow us down. We’re trying to protect rights here.”

ABC’s Good Morning America did not cover the topic on Friday, but on Thursday’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir offered this news brief:

The FBI tonight has arrested three alleged members of the neo-Nazi group “The Base” ahead of a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. Among them, a former reservist in the Canadian army who allegedly had weapons and discussed traveling to the rally. As we reported last night, Governor Ralph Northam has imposed a temporary ban on weapons near the capitol, where a rally against new gun regulations is planned for Monday.

Just imagine if a liberal protest was scheduled to object to a conservative policy, would the media spend days leading up to the event suggesting the left-wing organizers of the rally were somehow in league with violent extremists?

Here is a transcript of the January 17 report on NBC’s Today show:

7:10 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: There are new fears tied to a pro-gun rally that’s scheduled in Virginia. The governor there declared a temporary state of emergency ahead of the event, and now, the FBI has made several arrests. NBC’s Geoff Bennett in Richmond for us this morning with that story. Hey Geoff, good morning.

GEOFF BENNETT: Savannah, good morning to you. The Virginia capital is bracing for violence ahead of next week’s gun rights rally. Officials are concerned it could be a rerun of the deadly Charlottesville protests that unfolded three years ago. And their concerns have been heightened by the arrests of three alleged white supremacists who, officials say, obtained weapons and discussed attending next week’s rally.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Virginia Declares State of Emergency; Tensions Rise Ahead of Planned Gun Rights Rally]

This morning, Virginia on high alert. Just days before thousands of gun rights activists are expected to rally at the state capital, the FBI arresting three alleged members of a violent white supremacist group on gun charges. The group is known as “The Base,” which is the English translation of “Al-Qaeda.” Law enforcement officials say the men had obtained weapons and discussed participating in the rally. Just one day earlier, Governor Ralph Northam declaring a state of emergency after learning armed militias and hate groups planned to join the protest.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM [D-VA]: We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans.

BENNETT: At Monday’s rally, protesters are expected to voice their opposition to tougher gun laws being proposed in the state. The bills moving forward in the Virginia state legislature would require background checks on all firearms purchases, limit handgun purchases to one per month, and let localities ban guns from certain events and government buildings.

Ahead of the gun rights rally, Northam says he fears a repeat of the deadly 2017 march by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Are you worried about what might happen on Monday?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah, yeah, definitely. If it’s anything like Charlottesville, that’s scary.

BENNETT: Some see the Governor’s action as an assault on their Second Amendment rights.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: We bear arms peacefully. We desire to keep and stay under the Constitution of the United States.

BENNETT: Organizers of the gun rights rally say they are encouraging peaceful protests.

Now, ahead of the gun rally, Governor Northam has imposed a temporary ban on guns and all weapons from the capitol grounds here behind me. He is also asking event organizers to disavow any group that would threaten to do violence. Savannah?

GUTHRIE: Alright, Geoff Bennett at the capitol in Virginia, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the report on CBS This Morning:

7:12 AM ET

MICHELLE MILLER: The arrest of three alleged white supremacists is raising alarms ahead of a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. The state’s governor says there is credible intelligence of potential violence at Monday’s event. Jeff Pegues in Richmond, outside of the capitol. Jeff, who are these men?

JEFF PEGUES: Well, good morning. Here at the capital you can see these temporary fences here behind me in place. They’ve put in place – they’ve been put in place for crowd control on Monday, a security measure just in case. The arrest of the three men, Michelle, is really feeding this narrative that there could be violence here on Monday. In fact, investigators say the three men were targeting the event as a way of spreading their hate-filled ideology.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Alleged White Supremacy Threat; New Concerns of Violence at VA Gun Rally After Arrests]

Images presented in court Thursday paint a picture of a group preparing for battle. Long guns and some appearing to wear fatigues. One of the men, Patrick Matthews, is a Canadian army veteran who is said to be an explosives expert. American Brian Lemley Jr. is an army veteran who served in Iraq, the third suspect is American William Bilbrough. The men are alleged members of “The Base,” a neo-Nazi group that advocates violence against minorities while rallying around slogans like “Save Your Race.” Investigators allege the men had built a functioning assault rifle and had recently bought more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition. Attorney Robert Bonsib represents Bilbrough.

ROBERT BONSIB: I was just appointed to represent this fine young man. He’s a 19-year-old young man with no prior record.

PEGUES: The arrests only reinforce concerns Monday’s rally could be a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville in 2017 unless officials intervene. Governor Ralph Northam’s temporary ban on all weapons near capitol grounds withstood a legal challenge on Thursday.

Monday’s rally is related to new gun reforms proposed in Virginia’s legislature, now controlled by Democrats for the first time in more than two decades, that include universal background checks and a once-a-month limit on handgun purchases.

Are you concerned that it could escalate into something you didn’t expect?

PHILIP VAN CLEAVE [VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE PRESIDENT]: It’s always possible that could happen.

PEGUES: Rally organizer Philip Van Cleave refuses to call off the event over the arrests.

VAN CLEAVE: We will not let them deter us or slow us down. We’re trying to protect rights here.

PEGUES: In court, prosecutors said that one of the men talked about traveling to Ukraine to fight and compared “The Base” to Al-Qaeda. Investigators also say the Canadian man who was arrested was here in this country illegally. Tony?

TONY DOKOUPIOL: See what happens Monday. Jeff, thank you very much.

NB Daily Guns Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Jeff Pegues Savannah Guthrie David Muir Ralph Northam

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