NRATV Creator Threatens 'Legal Action' Against Former Host Over 'Fabrications'

The National Rifle Association's former PR firm plans to take legal action against a former NRATV host in the latest salvo in its ongoing dispute with the gun-rights group that has unraveled the pair's nearly four-decades-long relationship.

The Oklahoma-based firm, Ackerman McQueen, told Newsweek Tuesday that it would counter allegations from Grant Stinchfield, the former host of a self-titled NRATV program, with its own "legal action" against him.

Ackerman claims that Stinchfield, who served as host from 2016 until July, provided "inaccurate information under oath" in an affidavit that was filed earlier this month in the NRA's federal lawsuit against the firm. Stinchfield claimed in the sworn statement that Ackerman irresponsibly managed the now-defunct Second Amendment streaming platform NRATV.

Ackerman's statement did not specify what the forthcoming legal action was. It denied the allegations made in his affidavit and referred to a pair of them as "fabrications."

Stinchfield provided the following statement to Newsweek:

"The fact that Ackerman is even responding to a liberal outlet like Newsweek is why I am so sad for the company I was once happy to work for. Though I am not employed by the NRA, I am a longtime member and I am proud to speak the truth on its behalf. Ackerman's response to my affidavit makes it clear, nothing triggers like truth," he said.

NRATV, which was produced by Ackerman on the NRA's behalf, was ultimately disbanded in June amid escalating legal disputes that were pitting the NRA and Ackerman, longtime collaborators, against each other. The conflict spilled over into federal court in August, when the gun-rights organization filed its third lawsuit against Ackerman related to the firm's work on the NRA account. Both the NRA and Ackerman have distanced themselves from controversies surrounding NRATV, but accusations over the platform's demise have been traded through the media and court filings.

In October, the NRA's case against Ackerman took a dramatic turn when the NRA amended its complaint, alleging that the firm "presented fabricated and inflated sponsorship and viewership" metrics about NRATV. It was through this filing that Stinchfield provided a sworn affidavit accusing Ackerman of "aggressively [seeking] to limit interaction between NRATV talent and leadership."

Ackerman has steadfastly defended its representations to the NRA about NRATV's viewership and reach.

"The analytics are not only legitimate, they are impressive across all of the same platforms that media companies everywhere use to judge success in engagement and reach," the firm said in its statement to Newsweek.

Stinchfield further alleged that Angus McQueen—the PR firm's now-deceased CEO and father-in-law to the NRA's outside counsel—personally intervened to instruct him that the firm, and not the NRA, would control NRATV's direction.

Stinchfield claimed that McQueen told him at one point: "The NRA is not your boss. I am."

Ackerman told Newsweek that Stinchfield's "willingness to invent quotes from a deceased man who isn't here to protect himself is disgusting."

"Mr. Stinchfield is a former Ackerman McQueen employee and was one of the most recognized personalities of NRATV," William A. Brewer III, the NRA's outside counsel, said in a written statement to Newsweek. "His affidavit is troubling for Ackerman, as it validates many of the NRA's claims and allegations against the agency. The NRA believes this filing underscores what, in the end, was driving Ackerman's management of NRATV – its own financial self-interest and desire to build a live TV platform on the backs of NRA members."

In his affidavit, Stinchfield also said he questioned whether NRATV and its live broadcasts were "the most cost-effective method to promote the Second Amendment." He said he had often expressed the opinion that "three daily, well-targeted videos" on social media would provide far greater value for the NRA's mission-driven budget.

Disagreements about whether NRATV and its associated costs were tailored to the NRA's purposes as a non-profit organization focusing on gun rights have featured throughout the litigation.

"When I presented these ideas, Ackerman executives, particularly Angus McQueen, harshly dismissed them," Stinchfield said. "I arrived at the view that Ackerman was intent upon transforming itself from an ad agency into a live television newsroom, and using the NRA to finance this goal."

For its part, Ackerman outright rejected Stinchfield's characterizations of the firm's work and of the behavior of its late executive.

"Angus McQueen never operated in the way described in the affidavit," it said.

Ackerman's comment about impending legal action focused on Stinchfield individually, not the NRA.

NRA/NRATV/Ackerman McQueen
A sign reading "NRA" is visible on April 10, 2015. The gun-rights group's former PR firm, which produced the NRATV network on the NRA's behalf, says it will take legal action against a former show host. The host has denied wrongdoing. KAREN BLEIER/Getty
NRATV Creator Threatens 'Legal Action' Against Former Host Over 'Fabrications' | U.S.