Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

How Twitter Amplified An NRA Lobbyist's Comments


Supporters of a Washington gun control measure on the November ballot may have just gotten a mid-summer boost. They’re capitalizing on an audio recording that recently surfaced.

The hard-to-understand audio recording first appeared on the left-wing blog “Horses Ass.” The blog’s author said the audio is of NRA lobbyist Brian Judy speaking recently to a pro-gun group. Judy questioned Jewish people who are anti-guns.

“Any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think, ‘are you serious?’” Judy said on the recording.

The speaker suggested gun control measures led to the rise of Nazi Germany. Then he seemed to mock Jewish-Americans who support stricter gun laws.

“Hello is anybody home here?” Judy said.

The audio surfaced on the eighth anniversary of a deadly shooting at Seattle’s Jewish Federation.

Shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo is the official sponsor of Initiative 594 on Washington’s fall ballot. It would expand background checks for gun sales. The campaign quickly tweeted a link to the audio and a statement from Stumbo calling Brian Judy’s remarks “offensive rhetoric.” He did not immediately return a phone call.

Two Democratic state lawmakers also issued a statement. Then the Jewish Federation called for Judy to resign. Soon the media picked up the story.

Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University, said the technology as the key driver here -- from the recording device planted in the audience to Twitter as a means of quickly disseminating the audio and transcript.

“Think even just 10 years ago," Donovan said. "You couldn’t probably do this much in a one or two day news cycle, right?”

Donovan added this incident may not affect the November election. But it could have the effect of mobilizing supporters of Initiative 594 -- a sort of July jolt in the dog days of summer.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."