Anatomy of a Smear: Progressives Claim Republican Candidate Joked About Shooting Reporters

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Democrats in Washington State are accusing former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert of joking about shooting reporters during a sit down with the Seattle Times; a smear that's been amplified both by a progressive non-profit masquerading as a news outlet and by at least one "legitimate" news organization.  

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Reporter Hannah Krieg of Seattle's The Stranger newspaper shared the press release from Washington State Democrats on X, apparently without ever researching whether or not the Democrats' claims were accurate. Kreig followed up with a link to a story from an outfit called American Journal News. 

The Stranger picked up on Krieg's tweets and shared the story on Thursday, further amplifying the smear against Reichert. 

According to American Journal News, Reichart "was caught on mic joking about threatening to shoot journalists" at a campaign event back in January. But after listening to the audio of the event in question, I couldn't find anything resembling what the supposed news site claims.  

Reichart was responding to a question about COVID lockdowns that also touched on the Second Amendment, and in his response brought up his support for the right to keep and bear arms. 

I'm a big fan of the Second Amendment, because that was part of your question too. In fact, I was packing the day, I had an interview with the Seattle Times and I let 'em know that I had a gun on my hip, just because I don't like the Seattle Times. Anybody work for the Times here? (laughter from crowd) The reporter looked at me and said, 'I notice you're packing. Any particular reason?' I said, 'yeah, I'm a cop.' (laughter from crowd) I used to be a cop. I pack all the time. So, anyway, my gun tonight, I knew I wouldn't need it in here, so I left it in the car." 

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You can listen for yourself here, starting at 01:47 of the audio file. 

Reichart did joke about reporters from the Seattle Times being in attendance at his campaign event, but at no point did he ever joke about shooting reporters as progressives have claimed. American Journal News also conveniently failed to include the full text of Reichart's comments in its "report", leaving out Reichart's recounting of the reporter's question and his answer. 

Reichert made the remarks at a campaign event in Burlington, WA on January 24. He was responding to a voter who asked about the supposed erosion of civil liberties as a result of COVID lockdowns. Reichert’s response touched on a variety of topics.

“I’m also a big fan of the Second Amendment, because that was in part of your question too,” Reichert said. “In fact, I was packing the day I had an interview with the Seattle Times. I let them know I had a gun on my hip just because I don’t like the Seattle Times.”

Reichert then laughed and asked if any Seattle Times employees were in the room.

Reichert represented Washington’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2015. He previously served as sheriff of King County. Reichert launched his bid for Washington’s open governor seat last year. He has made cracking down on crime a centerpiece of his campaign.

Threats against journalists have become more common in recent years. Former President Donald Trump has publicly fantasized about imprisoning and executing reporters. In 2017, Trump praised future Motana Gov. Greg Gianforte for physically assaulting a reporter. That same year, Walmart was criticized for selling a t-shirt that read ““Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”

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A full reporting of Reichart's comments would make it clear that there was no threat, joking or otherwise, about shooting reporters, but that wouldn't serve the interests of the Democrats or the progressives behind American Journal News. To me (and I'm guessing for most gun owners), it's clear that Reichert was joking about carrying a gun with him to the Times offices because he didn't feel safe; the same reason he told the audience he didn't have his gun with him when speaking to them. To put in terms progressives will understand: the confab with conservatives was Reichert's "safe space", while the offices of the Seattle Times were a hostile environment. 

Notably, the Seattle Times never reported on any threat or joke made by Reichert when he visited the offices months ago. In fact, until American Journal News ran with its "story" this week, this was a non-issue for everyone involved. 

American Journal News does it's best to disguise the fact that its a partisan mouthpiece for Democrats. You don't get that impression just by looking at the site, which proclaims it's simply "a news platform that covers state and federal politics."

Our publisher is True Blue Media (TBM). TBM publishes American Journal News using content from our partners across the internet. True Blue Media is a for-profit media company that relies on ad revenue and investors, including The American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, a 501(c)(4) research organization. The American Bridge 21st Century Foundation was founded with the mission to compare and contrast progressive and conservative solutions to America’s public policy concerns and to educate the American people on the results of that research.

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Do a little digging, however, and you'll learn that American Bridge 21st Century Foundation bills itself as the "largest research, tracking, and rapid response operation in the Democratic Party". True Blue Media, meanwhile, is owned and operated by Media Matters for America founder David Brock, according to InfluenceWatch. And you'll never guess who started American Bridge 21st Century Foundation

American Bridge 21st Century Foundation is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of American Bridge 21st Century, a PAC created by Democratic Party operative David Brock to attack Republican politicians.

American Bridge 21st Century Foundation is a major donor to its PAC counterpart, donating roughly $5.9 million in 2017-2018 to it (as of October 2018).1 According to its 2021 990 form, the foundation donated roughly $100,000 to its PAC counterpart in 2021.

Media Matters for America is going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment, laying off more than a dozen staffers in recent days, but Brock's empire of media misinformation is clearly continuing to operate under other banners. Jesse Valentine, who penned the piece about Reichart for American Journal News, is also listed as a newsletter writer for The American Independent; another Brock-affiliated propaganda shop dedicated to promoting Democrats and bashing Republicans under the guise of objective journalism.

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The hit piece against Reichart is typical of how this ecosystem works. A fake news site publishes fake news, which is then picked up and amplified by reporters like Krieg. The falsehood spreads far and wide on social media, and the truth gets buried under a mountain of misinformation. 

We're not only dedicated to bringing you the latest news about the right to keep and bear arms to our readers here at Bearing Arms. We're combatting this kind of media manipulation on a regular basis as well, and we could use your help to push back against the deluge of deception. 

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