Jul
24
2013

Maddow Tells the Story of ALEC and Gun Laws–But Leaves Out One Character

Rachel Maddow/photo by JD Lasica

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (JD Lasica)

On her July 18 broadcast, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow went after ALEC, the shadowy corporate-funded group that works with allied legislators to introduce legislation–like the Stand Your Ground law that played such a controversial role in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case–at the state level.

Where did this law come from in all these states, that not many people had noticed before this marquee case in Florida suddenly shocked everybody with its implications in this case?

The law came from something called ALEC; this force for force, "Stand Your Ground," defend your castle laws may have been an NRA priority. But the way the NRA pushed them was through the American Legislative Exchange Council–ALEC for short.

You can see here the legislative scorecard from ALEC for model legislation. The Castle Doctrine, which is "Stand Your Ground," right there on the ALEC list.

This chilling marquee case in Florida attracts enough outrage that the big, mainstream corporate interests that belong to ALEC started to get embarrassed to be associated with the law, right? Because the uproar was not just about Florida, once people realized what this law was and how it had spread.

It was not just about the NRA or the "Stand Your Ground" law. It's about the way the law had been written as model legislation by this group that the NRA and all of these corporations were part of. And the corporations, these other constituent members of ALEC beyond the NRA, they started to get embarrassed about being associated with this.

Why on Earth does Kraft Foods want a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later bill on its legislative agenda? So, Kraft Foods, yes, drops their membership from ALEC, which had been pushing these "Stand Your Ground" laws.

PepsiCo drops their membership from ALEC. Coca-Cola drops their membership from ALEC. Mainstream household name companies start dropping out of ALEC, one after another after another, and then, finally, ALEC announced, OK, we're getting out of the "Stand Your Ground" business. We are eliminating our public safety and election task force.

I mean, why would Pepsi be working on gun laws? Right? Didn't make any sense. So ALEC, when they got the pressure, started to see the pressure manifest as its corporate sponsors dropping out, and ALEC thereby dropped the issues.

But the laws do not go away.

Indeed. But you know what would've been a neat addition to that? An acknowledgement that among the corporations evidently not embarrassed to be associated with ALEC is MSNBC owner Comcast!

According to the Center for Media and Democracy:

Michael Wall, senior director of state government affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the state corporate co-chair of Georgia…. John Gibbs, vice president of state government affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the state corporate co-chair of Minnesota…. And Tom Krewson, director of state government relations at Comcast, represents Comcast as the state corporate co-chair of Missouri. Steve Proper, director of government affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the state corporate co-chair of Utah.

Comcast is also a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force…and ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.

In August 2011, Michael Wall received ALEC's State Chair of the Year Award.

Why on Earth does Comcast want a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later bill on its legislative agenda? Maybe Maddow could ask her employers that.

About Janine Jackson

Program Director and Co-producer of CounterSpin
Janine Jackson is FAIR's program director and and producer/co-host of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR's magazine, Extra! and co-edited The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s (Westview Press). She has appeared on ABC's Nightline and CNN Headline News, among other outlets, and has testified to the Senate Communications Subcommittee on budget reauthorization for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Her articles have appeared in various publications, including In These Times and the UAW’s Solidarity, and in books including Civil Rights Since 1787 (New York University Press) and Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism (New World Library). Jackson is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an M.A. in sociology from the New School for Social Research.