Do you remember learning about the famous episode of fake news in 1948 when the Chicago Tribune’s predecessor prematurely called the 1948 presidential race for Dewey over Truman? Well, today’s fake news network has prematurely called the NRA’s influence into question for the 2020 election cycle.
America’s worst-rated cable news operation served up another heaping helping of fake news this weekend, writing about how the floundering NRA is supposedly struggling to maintain influence in the face of its internal struggles.
One could write much the same about a floundering cable news network based in Atlanta and come a lot closer to actually reporting real news. In fact, CNN’s problems dwarf those of the NRA.
To see just how bad—and how isolated—the CNN performance has been, one need only look back to 2018. In year-over-year rating comparisons of primetime performance, you can see the massive hit CNN has taken, while its competitors fare much better. All three networks are down, but one plunged.
Looking at the first week of June, both Fox News and MSNBC saw a dip of 4 percent. CNN dropped 33 percent. One-third of its audience fled! And in the core demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds it was far worse, as CNN lost more than half of those viewers, at -55 percent.
In their story on the NRA, CNN tries to write the obituary of the NRA’s powerful political machine and its influence on elections local, state and national.
The National Rifle Association was already reeling from leadership shakeups and allegations of financial mismanagement when it dropped another bombshell.
The NRA accused Chris Cox — the man who had controlled the organization’s lobbying and political activities for more than 15 years — of trying to overthrow Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre, according to a lawsuit filed last month.
Cox denied the charge to The New York Times, but quickly resigned. His unceremonious sacking stunned NRA board members, who saw Cox as a potential successor to LaPierre, and infuriated political staffers. Some started packing up their desks, unsure of whether they would be ousted too, multiple NRA sources said.
That’s when the Washington power brokers really started to worry. Cox’s departure, after months of turmoil at the NRA, only amplified the sense that the gun-rights group might not be the political powerhouse in 2020 that it has been for decades, including notably in 2016.
CNN downplays where the NRA derives its power, never mentioning the effect of five million politically engaged members who are regular voters. Some might say that’s typical CNN…long on setting up the fake news narrative and short on the facts.
In reality, it doesn’t matter who serves at the helm of the NRA when it comes to gun rights politics. The NRA doesn’t make or break political candidates. Its members do. What’s more, in addition to its five million actual members, 14 million gun owners consider themselves members.
From the NRA-ILA reporting on a Pew survey:
Thanks to the Pew Research Center for documenting what has been true for as long as polls have included a question asking respondents whether they are NRA members or not. Such questions routinely show that in addition to our five million members, we have millions more Americans who support us and will tell pollsters they are members, even when they are not. For some, it could be that their membership has lapsed and for others, they might consider a family member’s membership part of their own.
Even more to the point, the simple fact is that our support runs much deeper than among our members alone. Gun control advocates know this to be true, and that’s why the NRA remains the most powerful political force in America.
Pew’s recent survey on firearm-related attitudes and experiences of U.S. adults found – based on the percentage saying “yes” to the question about whether they are NRA members – that more than 14 million Americans consider themselves NRA members. The real NRA membership of about 5 million falls well short of this measure, even accounting for any statistical error the survey produced.
Gun owners don’t need the NRA to give them marching orders. They recognize anti-gun candidates and civilian disarmament ballot proposals for what they are.
No matter the internal issues within the NRA, the organization’s members will continue to reward their friends with votes and support in future elections. And they’ll hold gun-hating politicians to account as well.
That, despite what CNN wishes and hopes might be the case. Assuming CNN still exists in a few years.