As gun control advocates call for streaming services to end their relationships with the National Rifle Association's (NRA) firearm-focused channel, NRATV, John Oliver used his HBO show Sunday evening to draw attention to the "bleak vision of America" offered by the network.
"It’s the dumbest most transparent thing it does," said Oliver, of the organization's highly choreographed effort to make Americans fearful. "It's just a vessel to sell America guns."
On his program "Last Week Tonight," Oliver highlighted NRATV's on-screen personalities including Dana Loesch, the NRA spokesperson who recently accused the news media of "loving" mass shootings and who has appeared in viral videos on the channel in which she has decried progressive protesters as violent while touting the gun lobby as representing the "clenched fist of truth."
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"Today's America is plagued by urban riots and domestic ISIS sympathizers," Loesch asserts in one NRATV clip, as executive vice president Wayne LaPierre warns of rampant sex trafficking that can ostensibly be stopped by civilians with guns.
The segment also took aim at NRATV's express purpose of capturing a female audience, with one organization official saying in a video clip, "If you get the woman, you get the family." The network features programs aimed at making women comfortable with the idea of firing a semi-automatic weapon like the AR-15, the gun used in several mass shootings in recent years including the one last month in Parkland, Florida, and selling handbags featuring pockets that can conceal a weapon.
Daily Kos, Everytown for Gun Safety, and other gun control advocates have circulated petitions calling for companies including Amazon and Roku to stop offering the NRA's streaming service.
"Businesses across the country are beginning to leave the NRA, realizing how toxic and complicit their relationship with the gun purveyors make them seem," wrote the Daily Kos, whose petition has gathered more than 86,000 signatures. "Hotels, credit cards, and banks have begun to pull back on their business deals. It's time that the major streaming services—Amazon, Roku, Apple TV, and Google Play—that all carry NRATV, stop."