Tragic news from Montana today. Gregory Rodriguez, the host of Sportsman Channel‘s A Rifleman’s Journal, was shot and killed by the husband of a woman he was visiting, the Associated Press reports. The shooter apparently beat his wife and, after taking his 2-year old son to a relative, drove to his home and shot himself in the head. In addition to his work on the Sportsman Channel, Rodriguez was CEO of Global Adventure Outfitters, editor of Shooting Times Magazine, and a contributing editor of Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo. The news is a sad coda to a post I wrote in January citing an excellent report in Reuters. It shed some light on the media forces that influence the national debate by describing how the National Rifle Association either produces or sponsors programs on cable’s Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel. That information was newly relevant as national attention focused on policies that might reduce gun violence following the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Hats off to Reuters’ Ron Grover for this eye-opening report: The gun lobby either produces or sponsors six cable shows on the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel, which it uses to promote the NRA‘s views and raise cash, he says. For example, there’s Outdoor Channel’s Friends Of The NRA and American Rifleman, and Sportsman Channel’s Cam & Company, Guns And Gold, and 3-Gun Nation. Each of the channels reaches about 30M pay TV homes, a relatively small audience compared to, say, ESPN. But they reach the right people as far as the program producers and sponsors are concerned. The Sportsman Channel’s programming VP Graig Hale says that it charges premium rates on the shows because they appeal to hard-to-reach 25- to 54-year-old men. Grover observes that a recent half-hour episode of American Rifleman had about two dozen ads “including Crimson Trace laser sights, hunting gear discounter Cheaper Than Dirt and gun makers Smith & Wesson and Remington.” In some shows, including Cam & Company, the NRA is the heaviest advertiser — and ran its controversial recent spot criticizing President Obama for sending his kids to schools that have armed guards even though he doesn’t want to expand the presence of guns in other schools.