It did not take long for the NRA’s media arm to suggest YouTube itself was to blame for the mass shooting committed at its San Bruno headquarters this week.
Speaking Wednesday on NRATV, correspondent Chuck Holton said, “YouTube making these changes where they’re going from being a platform for videos to being a publisher of videos, meaning that they are starting to censor content here and there, whatever, actually opens them up to liability and it opens them up to a lot of hatred from people around the world.”
Holton was actually using that argument to push back against the idea that the NRA itself was to blame for the shooting. In the same segment, first spotted by Media Matters, host Grant Stinchfield accused the left of “literally pushing this narrative that the shooting was somehow the NRA’s fault and that I need to apologize for a tweet that NRATV sent out of one of my videos.”
As details about the shooting were just beginning to emerge, Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, tweeted out the video in question, which aired on Stinchfield’s show just last week.
“In light of the shooting in San Bruno at YouTube, will the @NRA apologize for this disgusting tweet in which it calls on its members to ‘rise up’ against the company’s decision to take down how-to gun videos?” Watts asked her followers, racking up more than 13,000 retweets and 28,000 likes.
In that video, Stinchfield condemned YouTube’s plan to ban content related to the assembly or sale of firearms. “We’ve got to fire back,” he said, urging viewers to upload even more gun-related videos to the platform. “Overwhelm these leftists in California. Do it. It’ll work.”
As it turns out, the shooter on Tuesday did reportedly “hate” YouTube, but not for the same reasons a pro-gun rights activist might. Instead, she accused the company of censoring her videos about veganism and animal welfare.
Also on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. falsely claimed that YouTube and Instagram were protecting the shooter by taking down her pages after the shooting. “You think there’s any chance whatsoever that a mass shooters hateful Instagram and YouTube channels would be pulled immediately if they were NRA members as opposed to liberal Vegan PETA activists?” he asked on Twitter.
In reality, the exact same steps were taken in the cases of assailants who could hardly be described as “liberal.”