The National Rifle Association’s chief executive on Friday told an energized audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the national news media is at war with the public.
“Our country is under siege from a media carpet bombing campaign and America knows it,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre declared.
His appearance came about two hours after President Donald Trump told a packed CPAC audience that “We will protect our Second Amendment.” It was the first time in memory that a sitting president has referred to the right to keep and bear arms as “our” Second Amendment. That remark brought a rousing applause from the audience in National Harbor, Maryland, where the conference has been held this week.
That was evidently not lost on LaPierre, who immediately went on the attack against the “far left” extremism that was displayed in video clips as he spoke. He told the audience that the left’s message is clear: “They want revenge” because last fall’s election didn’t turn out as they expected.
“They’re angry, they’re militant and they’re willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want,” he said.
LaPierre went for the emotional jugular with his conservative audience, attacking a national media “that is not just biased almost entirely one way, it also dumps gasoline on simple political disagreement to turn it into cultural IEDs.”
“They dehumanize (and) demonize us all by calling us every evil name in the book,” he observed.
He told the crowd that “another definition of terrorism is violence in the name of politics.”
LaPierre warned that terrorists are already here, pointing to Boston and San Bernardino as examples.
He repeatedly attacked media bias, and he illustrated that by showing a 2003 video of his appearance on CNN when he accused the network of faking a story about the difference between a semi-auto full-auto firearms. That video brought a rousing applause.
LaPierre didn’t stop there. Indeed, he seemed to be just warming up.
He criticized the news media of carrying on a not-so-subtle campaign to derail the Trump agenda.
“You can hear it in their tone, their sneers,” he said. “You can literally see the disdain on their faces. Everything from their word choices to their inflection is trained on one target: purposely and maliciously destroying the Trump presidency, no matter what it takes and no matter what it costs.”
The Second Amendment advocate then turned his attention to the First Amendment, criticizing attacks on conservative speakers on university and college campuses, including Berkley, where the free speech movement was born five decades ago.
“God help you if you’re a conservative and you want to speak on a college campus today, anywhere in this country,” he said, bringing another rousing applause from the audience, which was made up largely of young 20-something conservatives.
“They call people fascists,” LaPierre observed about the tactics to silence conservatives, “and yet they use the same brutal tactics that the fascists used in Europe in the 20s and the 30s.”
Returning to a familiar subject, LaPierre noted that NRA members helped put Trump in office when the media and pundits never expected it. That much is underscored by a piece in the March 6 issue of the Weekly Standard in which Executive Editor Fred Barnes gives considerable credit to the NRA for making the difference in the November election.
In closing, he encouraged the audience to “stand up” and “stand with” the NRA to protect the nation’s freedom.