A week after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the National Rifle Association found a new culprit on which to cast blame: the media.
In a series of tweets and appearances on Thursday morning, top officials with the gun-rights lobby went after the press corps for allegedly cheering on mass shootings, saying that journalists value the ratings that come from covering such tragedies.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre accused the media of being “eager to smear the NRA,” and he echoed President Donald Trump’s suggestion that American schools expand concealed-carry for teachers in classrooms.
“That’s more than anybody at the DNC, NBC News, or The Washington Post is offering,” La Pierre said.
“The whole idea from our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous,” he added.
Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the NRA, also appeared at the conference the morning after she participated in a town hall with the Parkland victims. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” she said, adding that “crying white mothers” are “ratings gold.”
“I’m not saying you love the tragedy but you love the ratings, because crying white mothers are ratings gold,” Loesch added. “If it bleeds, it leads, doesn’t it?”
The NRA’s media arm, known as NRATV, has been hammering the same messages ever since the shooting in Parkland last week, which resulted in the deaths of 17 people.
Attacking the press corps is standard fare for conservative organizations and politicians. But rarely are journalists accused of welcoming the news that 17 students and educators were slaughtered by a crazed gunman.
The NRA had been largely quiet in the aftermath of the shooting even as NRATV continued pushing back against the press corps’ coverage of it. Thursday’s CPAC appearance was LaPierre’s first since the tragedy.
He accused Democrats of attempting to eliminate the Second Amendment by “eradicating all individual freedom” and placing “more restrictions on the law-abiding” gun owners. LaPierre also called Democrats “European-style socialists,” and mentioned a number of lawmakers by name: Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), among others.
LaPierre accused Democrats of seeking to “agitate the offended,” “promote uncivil discourse,” and “eliminate due process”—the “gold standard” for socialism, he said. LaPierre also condemned the “unbelievable failure of the FBI,” a reference to the agency’s acknowledgement that it did not properly respond to a tip about the Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz.
The NRA has said it supports a bill aimed at improving the federal background check system by providing incentives for states to submit data to it. Democrats also support that measure. But the organization—which has historically backed Republican political candidates both financially and otherwise—opposes attempts to raise the age limit for assault rifle purchases, or to ban such firearms outright.
“We at the NRA are Americans who continue to mourn and care and work every day and contributing real solutions to this very real problem,” LaPierre said. “Real, practical action to truly protect our children.”