The now-defunct NRATV streaming platform once had aspirations to be a full-fledged news operation, ex-host Grant Stinchfield claimed in an affidavit filed last week.
Stinchfield, who hosted an eponymous program on NRATV, claimed the National Rifle Association’s advertising firm Ackerman McQueen (AMc)—which ran the streaming platform—wanted to transform itself into a “live television newsroom” using the gun group’s deep pockets.
The host claimed that while observing NRATV’s pivot to live-streaming shows under the direction of AMc in 2017 and 2018, he began to question whether NRATV’s new programming choices were cost-effective.
“I specifically and repeatedly expressed my view that three daily, well-targeted videos, crafted for dissemination on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, would achieve a far greater reach than my live broadcast without the expense of a twenty-four-hour livestreaming network,” Stinchfield wrote. “When I presented these ideas, Ackerman executives, particularly [the late Ackerman McQueen CEO] Angus McQueen, harshly dismissed them.”
He further claimed that, at the time, he concluded AMc “was intent upon transforming itself from an ad agency into a live television newsroom, and using the NRA to finance this goal.”
Stinchfield was just one of several personalities on the platform, which featured a number of conservative firebrands like Dana Loesch, Dan Bongino (who is currently suing The Daily Beast for defamation), and Oliver North. The platform, which was supposed to promote the Second Amendment, often veered into culture-warrior commentary—with one Loesch segment infamously featuring an edited image of Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. The streaming platform shuttered earlier this year.
The NRA previously said that some of its leadership found NRATV’s programming “distasteful and racist,” and claimed their efforts to “rein in” the messaging was met with “evasive” and “hostile” reactions from Ackerman McQueen.
In return, the ad firm has accused the NRA of attacking AMc—including repeatedly invoking the racist Loesch segment—to cover up for its own ”systemic” racism and internal corruption: “Another cynical attempt to distract from [NRA CEO] Wayne LaPierre’s documented mismanagement of the organization and the captive board’s complicit behavior,” as one such filing claimed.
“In the final 18 months, AMc representatives progressively discovered that LaPierre and his executive team, with the board’s oversight and approval, were marketing false products and narratives to NRA members, covering up sexual harassment, attempting to intimidate public officials, disrupting internal investigations about Russia, spending member money for personal benefit and more,” the ad firm further railed against NRA in a statement last month.
The Stinchfield host, meanwhile, echoed the NRA’s claims from an earlier court filing, alleging that some of the “metrics” Ackerman McQueen prepared for NRA leadership were “distorted” and failed to “tell the whole story of how few live viewers” NRATV actually had.
He also alleged that Ackerman McQueen sought to control the platform, going to far as to assert that the ad firm—not the NRA—would direct NRATV’s “messaging” and how the programs were broadcast.
“The NRA is not your boss—I am,” Stinchfield claimed McQueen, the late CEO, told him.
Ackerman McQueen’s editorial direction allegedly included enthusiastically backing and requesting Stinchfield promote Carry Guard and School Shield, two NRA training and safety programs the ad firm has since claimed both initiatives were just “shell” programs the NRA’s chief executive used to boost revenue and never meant to meaningfully execute.
In a statement, Ackerman McQueen claimed that Stinchfield lied about his relationship with the firm’s late CEO and that it would pursue legal action against the ex-host.
“His willingness to invent quotes from a deceased man who isn’t here to protect himself is disgusting,” the firm said. “We have more than enough documentation, in Stinchfield’s own words, to show that Stinchfield was very grateful for and respected Angus McQueen’s leadership.”
AMc also denied “distorting” any metrics they presented to the gun group and called Stinchfield’s allegations involving Carry Guard and School Shield “outright fabrications.”
A lawyer for the NRA, William Brewer, said the affidavit proved that Ackerman McQueen desired to benefit its own “financial self-interest” and “build a live TV platform on the backs of NRA members.”
The affidavit is just the latest filing in a bitter and ongoing legal battle between the ad firm and the gun group, involving multiple lawsuits in Texas and Virginia. The NRA sued AMc over its billing practices and over its handling of NRATV; the ad firm subsequently countersued over those billing disputes and claimed the gun group sought to terminate the contract between them. Both entities have sought tens of millions of dollars from each other.