James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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The daft and the spurious — another conservative conspiracy theory

Posted by James McPherson on June 21, 2012

One could spend all day trying to debunk just the conspiracy theories promoted on Fox News, and typically it’s not worth the trouble. Most people aren’t crazy enough to buy into the theories (and are too apathetic to pursue them, anyway). But one of the latest goofy theories on Fox News and elsewhere is apparently being promoted by an organization more powerful with legislators than Fox News — the National Rifle Association.

The claim comes from the current controversy over the truly stupid “Fast and Furious” program, which this week prompted House Republicans to recommend holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress (which means something different here than the “contempt of Congress” that most of us have). For its part, the Obama administration is maintaining that it has executive privilege to withhold some documents that House Republicans want. And frankly, I don’t care much about that — George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each successfully asserted executive privilege repeatedly (this is Obama’s first time), and this politically motivated attempt likely will go nowhere, and likely will hurt Republicans more than it hurts Obama.

But the NRA has latched onto a way to make the squabble into yet another way to bleed money from suckers while pressuring Congress to toe its any-gun-any-time line. In a letter to Congress, the organization supported the contempt citation — which, with the number of gutless folks eager to kiss the NRA’s brass, may actually prolong the inane process. It will still go nowhere, but will keep the issue alive for an extended period of time when Congress might instead be focusing on more important issues. And as a result, Obama gets to keep running against a partisan do-nothing Congress.

“Heightening the NRA’s concern — and requiring our involvement — is the White House’s use of this program to advance its gun control agenda,” the NRA letter states. Say what? What “gun control agenda”? It’s now easier to buy a gun in this country, and you can carry one in more places, causing destruction in more ways, than before Obama took office. In fact, Obama has been considerably weaker on the issue of gun control than Republicans Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, phony cowboy George W. Bush, or movie cowboy Ronald Reagan.

But Obama’s failure to try to take away our guns is simply a secret plot, say the NRA, Mitt Romney, and other loonies. He plans to start taking them after he’s re-elected. And while Obama’s re-election is likely, a thinking person might actually wonder … huh? Why would he wait? But if you actually followed that line of thought you’d foolishly be trying to apply reason.

For some of these folks, Obama’s lack of action — the fact that he’s done less to control guns than any president of our lifetimes — actually seems to be the evidence that he’s waiting to spring. They will not be deterred by something so basic as observable fact. The view of conspiracy theorists of all stripes might be well summarized by this paragraph (which is actually about media manipulation):

This manipulation is like one of those optical illusion pictures that you have to stare at until you suddenly see the image. Then, once you see it, you can see it every time you look for it, yet the person standing right next to you will insist there is no image in the picture – just like you did before you learned to see it. That’s what you need to do here: you need to start reading history – real history – until you start seeing how this works. Once you do and you start to see what they are doing to manipulate people and how their methods work, you will feel as though you have just been liberated. You will see it everywhere, and you’ll be right nearly every time. But I warn you, that sense of liberation will soon give way to a state of deep concern as you suddenly realize just how many of your friends are still denying the image in the picture. That’s when you come to understand just how much troublke [sic] we’re actually in.

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7 Responses to “The daft and the spurious — another conservative conspiracy theory”

  1. Goofy theories? Interesting – considering that labeling political opponents as conspiracy theorists is actually taught in colleges today. Obama even taught them. Saul Alinsky wrote a book about how to do this. It’s called Rules for Radicals. http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/communism/alinsky.htm This is the same Saul Alinsky who is idolized by the members of the media who were once left-wing radicals in the 60’s and who are now in the White House.

    You know, it is cliche but it is also accurate: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

    😉

  2. James, when viewing the picture, I think some people see it differently….

  3. James McPherson said

    “considering that labeling political opponents as conspiracy theorists is actually taught in colleges today”

    Gee, how did I miss that class in my way–too-many years of college? And despite 20 years of teaching, I’ve also apparently neglected that lesson–yet another failure in my liberal indoctrination of students. 🙂

    “I think some people see it differently”

    Indeed. And I’ve been accused of seeing it differently than most. Thanks to both of you for the comments.

  4. Utah said

    Doc, hate to break it to you but that notorious right wing news outlet, CBS, has just uncovered documents that indicate that the Obama administration was doing exactly what the NRA claimed:

    “Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.

    On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:

    “Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”

    On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as “(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue.” And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: “Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case.”

    This revelation angers gun rights advocates. Larry Keane, a spokesman for National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group, calls the discussion of Fast and Furious to argue for Demand Letter 3 “disappointing and ironic.” Keane says it’s “deeply troubling” if sales made by gun dealers “voluntarily cooperating with ATF’s flawed ‘Operation Fast & Furious’ were going to be used by some individuals within ATF to justify imposing a multiple sales reporting requirement for rifles.”

    http://therionorteline.com/2012/06/22/all-you-need-to-know-about-mr-doctor-mcpherson-ph-d/

  5. James McPherson said

    “Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.”

    Which is something entirely different than saying that “Fast and Furious” was started for that reason. And the article says nothing about Holder or Obama knowing anything about it–just some ATF folks who may or may not have even supported “Fast and Furious.”

  6. […] the killer is an Obama operative trying to help the president push through gun control, even though we know that it’s now easier to buy a gun and you can carry it in more places than before Obama was […]

  7. […] by the conspiracy theorists. Admittedly, in the past I’ve made fun of birthers, truthers, gun nuts, Islamophobes, homophobes, Rush Limbaugh, the Texas Board of Education, PUMAs, lying Catholics, […]

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