Yesterday, we pointed out that Fox News' coverage leading up to Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) hearing into the ATF's Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious was peppered with unattributed and unsupported conspiratorial claims that the operation was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. This is not an anomaly; the network and its sister channel Fox Business have long been home to absurd conspiracy theories about the Obama administration.
So it should come as little surprise that Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard hosted Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt to offer similar claims last night:
PRATT: Clearly, they were just hoping to jack up the numbers of guns that would show up at crime scenes that could be traced back to the United States... The only explanation that makes sense to me is that this was a political agenda... They were trying to pin the tail on the American gun owner as the donkey, it's all our fault for all the trouble that they're having down in Mexico.
Pratt's comments were not unanticipated by Fox; indeed, before he spoke, Fox was airing a chyron that read, “Fast, Furious, Deadly, And Also Politically Motivated?” (note the use of “the Cavuto”):
Even a staff report produced for Issa -- no friend of the Obama administration -- has instead stated that Operation Fast and Furious, in which the ATF knowingly allowed guns to be trafficked across the border to Mexico, was intended to “identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.”
How credible is Pratt to be making such claims? Let's put it this way: He was reportedly fired as co-chair of Pat Buchanan's 1996 campaign after it was revealed that he was too close to white supremacists and the militia movement (exactly how toxic do you have to be to be fired by someone who called AIDS nature's “awful retribution” upon gays, defended Hitler, and said that there are too many Jews on the Supreme Court?).
Pratt's Gun Owners of America group has criticized requirements for background checks before firearm purchases in general and proposals to have those checks take into account dangerous mental health diagnoses in particular. They have called for the immediate defunding of the larger Project Gunrunner that interdicted more 10,000 firearms headed to Mexico with no mention of what should replace it to prevent Mexican cartels from getting their hands on trafficked assault weapons.
When you're a conspiracy-obsessed network, all of this is a feature, not a bug.