This morning's edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom hosted Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips to discuss efforts by Tea Party leaders to pressure Republican congressional leadership regarding the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
Media Matters has previously noted that Phillips has a questionable claim to genuine Tea Party leadership and has made many inflammatory, conspiratorial and extremist statements that call into question the media's treatment of Phillips as either a mainstream or authoritative Tea Party figure.
Not surprisingly, Phillips spent the interview promoting the right-wing conspiracy theory that Fast and Furious was a plot to promote gun control instead of a failed law enforcement investigation. Phillips:
It [Fast and Furious] should be investigated, but we also have to remember the program itself was a partisan program. This was never a law enforcement sting as you described it earlier, this was purely a political operation. You send the guns down to Mexico, therefore you support the political narrative that the Obama administration wanted supported; that all these American guns are flooding Mexico, that they're the cause of the violence in Mexico and therefore we need draconian gun control laws here in America. So because the whole operation itself was political, yes by all means Congress should be all over this.
The suggestion that Fast and Furious was a gun control plot became a central talking point for the gun lobby last year and Fox News has been glad to help promote the conspiracy theory in spite of a report by House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying the purpose of Fast and Furious was to "identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case."
Phillips and Tea Party Nation have generated an expansive list of inflammatory statements. Media Matters reported last July:
- Tea Party Nation sent an email in support of a candidate running against Rep. Keith Ellison. One of the reasons Ellison should be retired, according to the email, is that "He is the only Muslim member of congress." Phillips later defended the statement: "I am not going to apologize because I'm bothered by a religion that says kill the infidel, especially when I am the infidel."
- Phillips agreed that the Founding Fathers' limiting of voting rights to property owners was a "wise idea."
- Phillips claimed that Obama received campaign contributions from Hamas, adding, "So where does a corrupt, unpopular President from the party of treason go for reelection cash? China, of course."
- A Tea Party Nation email warned that "The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population in America is headed for extinction and with it our economy, well-being and survival as a uniquely America culture."
- Phillips claimed that "Obama and his regime are not real Americans."
- Phillips repeated what he called a "very believable" story that "the Obama regime ... spent the forty-eight hours prior to the raid" that killed Osama bin Laden "trying to stop it from taking place.
- Phillips asserted that Obama "released a forged birth certificate" and defended birther lawyer Orly Taitz, who "deserve[s] a place among the great lawyers of this country, who fought incredible odds to win justice."
- Phillips called the gay-rights movement part of the "liberal freak show" criticizing Michele Bachmann, adding that "[m]ost Americans do not believe homosexuality (which is only 1-3% of the population) is a good thing, though most Americans are tolerant of most things."
- Phillips said regarding Rep. Barney Frank: "With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, maybe DOD needs to send Frank a new 'friend' and the DOD budget will do better."