Top NRA officials found content on NRATV to be "distasteful and racist," according to a federal lawsuit between the gun rights organization and the ad firm that created the TV outlet, which no longer exists.
"NRATV's messaging strayed from the Second Amendment to themes which some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist," an amended complaint filed on October 25 in the NRA's lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen (AMc) stated. "One particularly damaging segment featured children's cartoon characters adorned in Ku Klux Klan hoods."
The complaint alleges that the NRA attempted to "rein in" AMc over such content, but that the ad firm responded with hostility or evasiveness.
"Tellingly, when NRATV finally shut down in June 2019, no one missed it," the NRA states in the filing. "Not a single sponsor or viewer even called, confirming what at least some NRA executives suspected — the site had limited visibility and was failing to accomplish any of its goals."
The ad firm provided a statement to The Daily Beast that rejected the NRA's allegations as "false claims" and ripped into the group's leadership.
The statement was particularly critical of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre — whose personal spending has recently come under scrutiny — stating that he and other NRA leaders are now groveling "at the feet of the media they used to decry" with the lawsuit. It described the suit as a "cynical attempt to distract from Wayne LaPierre's documented mismanagement of the organization and the captive board's complicit behavior."
"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 statement said.
"LaPierre controlled every aspect of NRATV for which he recruited talent, approved every budget, audited every metric and required ultimate confidentiality," the statement added. "Ackerman McQueen routinely offered and toward the end of the relationship demanded that an outside firm audit NRATV performance but LaPierre refused."
NRATV featured conservative media figures like Dana Loesch and Dan Bongino, who've garnered reputations for incendiary commentary. Loesch was widely criticized over a 2017 NRA ad that she starred in that was viewed by some progressives as an "open call to violence" against those who oppose President Donald Trump. The ad echoed language used by LaPierre at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier that year.
The lawsuit comes amid a year of bad headlines for the NRA, including reports of infighting between leaders as well serious financial troubles.