Friday, March 02, 2018


At Salon, an academic who studies Web extremism confirms that the main focus of NRATV is the culture war, not guns:
NRA TV is not merely a platform for promoting Second Amendment rights or engaging gun enthusiasts. As a researcher of online extremism, I’d contend it has has become one of the web’s most incendiary hotspots for stoking outrage at liberal America....

My study of 224 NRA TV videos and tweets over two months in 2017 found that only 34 dealt with topics related to direct gun advocacy or gun ownership. The remaining 190, or about five out of every six posts, were trained on perceived political enemies, trading the core mission of gun rights for incessant attacks on “crazed liberals” and “hateful leftists.”

... The Women’s March is labeled “a bigoted, fake feminist, jihad-supporting” movement, while Black Lives Matter is described as “a dangerous, hateful, destructive ideology.”

The dystopian picture that NRA TV portrays includes government officials encouraging violent protests against conservative groups, and a media-sponsored “war on cops.”
Does this remind you of anything? Obviously it's similar to Fox News and the rest of the conservative media -- it's also reminiscent of some of the advertising Russia posted on social media during the 2016 campaign.

We know that the Russians were working to secure a Donald Trump victory, but their original aim was to sow discord in the U.S. and make Americans angry at their own neighbors and institutions. NRATV, with its deemphasis on guns and heavy emphasis on demonization of politcal opponents, seems very much in sync with that.

I say this as NPR is adding new information to what we already knew about Putin pal Alexander Torshin's ties to the NRA.
Torshin is a prolific Twitter user, logging nearly 150,000 tweets, mostly in Russian, since his account was created in 2011. Previously obscured by language and by sheer volume of tweets, Torshin has written numerous times about his connections with the NRA, of which he's a known paid lifetime member....

Among his tens of thousands of tweets, Torshin ... documented his attendance at every NRA convention between 2012 and 2016....

Torshin has used his repeated trips to NRA conventions to cultivate relationships with top NRA officials. And his Twitter account documents that he has personally met with every person who has been president of the NRA since 2012....

In a public DropBox album that Torshin linked to from his Twitter account, he's seen meeting with former NRA president Jim Porter, as well as former NRA president David Keene.

His tweets suggest a longtime relationship with Keene, who repeatedly appears in photos as Torshin documents his visits, suggesting that their meeting was not merely coincidental....

Torshin has also met the current president of the NRA, Pete Brownell. Brownell was part of an NRA delegation that visited Moscow in 2015.
Torshin's infiltration of the NRA was a good way for him to get close to the GOP, and to Trump. But the NRA was also doing Russian-style propaganda better than the Russians, effectively pitting one group of Americans against others.

It's conceivable that Torshin urged his NRA pals to take NRATV more in the direction of culture war -- or, probably more likely, NRATV's propaganda was seen as a force multiplier for what Russia was trying to do. Either way, this is surely one more reason Russia wanted to cultivate the group.

No comments: