Donald Trump is not the only political aspirant whose outrageous behavior and insidious statements are milking free publicity from the news media.
Take the case of Michele Fiore, a gun-nut Nevada legislator running for Congress, who has tweaked the media’s freak reflex three times in recent weeks.
First, the Republican assemblywoman from Las Vegas got good play with the release of her “2016 Walk the Talk Second Amendment Calendar.”
Each month has a different photo of Fiore – she’s what hardboiled old newshounds used to describe in print as a “buxom blonde” – with a different firearm.
For a minimum “donation” of $25, fetishists get pinups of Fiore in provocative outfits, posing in all her buxomness and big-haired blondness, with everything from handguns to WMDs.
“No one does what I do,” she was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun in its story about the calendar.
This week, the Fiore PR blitz went global – twice – starting when the 45-year-old pistol-packin’ mama of two daughters and four grandkids posted a Christmas photo of her family packing heat.
It made the front page of the Irish Examiner and was splashed elsewhere overseas. The Brits were predictably cheeky in their take on this illustration of American exceptionalism.
“Before he attempts to descend the Fiore family’s chimney on Christmas morning, Father Christmas would be wise to phone ahead,” wrote Patrick Barkham, the natural history writer for the Guardian. “For if Michele Fiore’s Christmas card is a guide, Santa’s nocturnal delivery to their home will be his last.”
On this side of the Atlantic, where some in the media consider natural history open to interpretation, Fox News ceded four minutes of airtime to Fiore’s Christmas message: “I think getting firearms as a present and giving firearms as presents is a great present.”
As for her grandson sporting a .22-calibre semiautomatic pistol: “If you look at that picture real close, you’ll see his finger is not on the trigger – that five-year-old grandson of mine has total trigger control.”
Maybe the kid will be recruited to help Fox fight against the war on Christmas.
Fiore completed her triple-play of media madness when an outburst on her Vegas radio show – she has a weekly hour-long spot with the theme “walk the talk” – went viral:
“I am not OK with Syrian refugees. I’m not OK with terrorists. I’m OK with putting them down, blacking them out, just put a piece of brass in their nocular (sic) cavity and end their miserable life. I’m good with that.”
The quote was replayed and printed everywhere, translated into Russian, Spanish, German and other languages, including English – with nocular corrected to ocular. (What the hell does “blacking them out” mean?)
An editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggested she was jeopardizing her political career with such statements, while conceding “she won’t need a single campaign donation to build her name recognition.”
The 45-year-old loose-lipped publicity hustler, an elected politician for only three years, has quickly filled her scrapbook with national press clippings and network videos.
She was on MSNBC and Fox last year, standing with the gun-toting loons defending renegade Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy against the federal government.
This year, she has been quoted in:
- The New York Times, championing her bill to allow concealed-carry-permit holders to bring their guns on college campuses, elementary and secondary schools, and daycare facilities. “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
- The Washington Post, on her support for Nevada’s “right to try” bill, allowing alternatives to federally approved treatments for people with terminal illnesses. The Post reprised a statement from her radio program in which she says: “If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing with, say, saltwater, sodium carbonate, through that line and flushing out the fungus.”
Fiore ran an in-home healthcare service until it was shut down recently. The state said it revoked her license.
She says she folded the business due to “the never-ending barrage of government red tape and regulations,” which may include a big unpaid tax bill from the IRS.
No matter. This complicated financial stuff gets far less attention than posing with guns or threatening to bust a cap in the eye of an Arab.
Fiore told her hometown Review-Journal she really didn’t mean she planned to shoot Syrian refugees – just terrorists – though she doesn’t want any of them in her state.
Then again, she added: “If I say something I own it and I go for it – I double down, I don’t back down.”