Journalists who have been included on what is being called an "enemies list" of the National Rifle Association are speaking out about the designation, either welcoming the attention as a badge of honor for their work or criticizing the NRA for trying to intimidate them.
The list of 506 organizations, public officials, celebrities, and others was first posted on the NRA web site in September. After being highlighted online last week it has been widely covered and described as an "enemies list" by critics.
The NRA web site lists 37 columnists, cartoonists, and editors along with other organizations and public officials it sees as opponents of its efforts under the headline "National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies."
The list claims that the journalists in question "actively editorialize in favor of gun control laws."
Several of those news people on the list criticized the NRA for the move in comments to Media Matters.
"I am proud to be on the NRA 'enemies' list," said Frank Rich, a former New York Times columnist currently writing for New York magazine. "But it says a lot that I didn't even know I was on it until [Media Matters] told me today. It just goes to show that NRA in the 21st-century is becoming something of a paper tiger and shouldn't intimidate anyone, including members of Congress. An 'enemies list,' after all, is a lame retread from the Richard Nixon playbook of Watergate."
E.J. Dionne, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, welcomed being on the list, but offered concern such an effort might intimidate some non-journalists.
"Since I have long favored gun control and written rather passionately about the issue, I guess I would have been disappointed if I had not been on the NRA's list," he wrote in an email. "I don't think it is intimidating to opinion writers to be on such a list, but I wonder if it might intimidate people in other lines of work. I certainly hope not."
Mike Luckovich, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution since 1989, also welcomed the honor. He also called the NRA "crazed" about guns and describe them as "idiots."
"I love that," he said of his spot on the list. "Their gun zealotry has driven them insane. They have become so crazed about guns. They are like spoiled teen-agers, it is like 'their way or the highway.' When their insanity becomes almost evil in what's happening in America, I want to just keep hitting these idiots as much as possible. Other than that, I am wishy-washy on the whole thing ."
Bill Johnson, a veteran columnist currently at The Orange County Register, found it funny to be on the list since he is a gun owner, adding he does urge what he described as common-sense precautions for safety.
"I think I first got on years ago when I was at the Rocky Mountain News and was an extremely loud and rabid, hand-in-the-air, card-carrying gun hater. I wrote so many columns decrying guns and their use in absolutely senseless crimes," he said in an email. "Intimidating me? I found it quite humorous, and a bit of a badge of honor to be on that list. Someone even mailed me a t-shirt acknowledging my presence on that list.
"The funny thing is, I have over the years moderated my utter contempt for guns. Living in Denver for 16 years, I guess, will do that to a man. I have my three hunting shotguns and my elk rifle, and only last year purchased for my wife a .22-caliber handgun, the first one I EVER purchased. It is buried somewhere in a closet here. I remain hopelessly anti-assault weapon in my views, still believe there is handgun cancer in this country, that there is little, if any good use for one, and will believe so until the day they plant me. Intimidated? Oh, if I am still making the NRA do flips, spit and curse, well, you have just made my day."
Stuart Carlson, editorial cartoonist with Universal Press Syndicate and former 25-year staff cartoonist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said such a list is "unconscionable" today.
"I thought enemies lists went out with Richard Nixon," he said upon hearing he made the list. "If you are known by the enemies you make, I guess I am in good company. I have long thought the NRA was too influential and disagreed with them. Lately I think it is unconscionable in the wake of the Newtown shootings they seem to be behaving as though nothing has changed. Even background checks are anathema to them."