Fox & Friends pushes false flag “conspiracy theories” a day after condemning them

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Watching Fox & Friends shut down a right-wing conspiracy theory is like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs: You don’t expect it, but you know it won’t last long.

On Thursday, the Fox News morning show hosted former New York Police Department Detective Vince Guastamacchia to provide expert analysis of the bombs sent this week to prominent Democrats politicians. Guastamacchia, echoing a hypothesis from the far-right fever swamp, argued that because none of the bombs had detonated, they had likely been delivered by “the left” in order to “play the role of the victim” before the midterm elections.

Guastamacchia was at least the third “expert” on the network to float the evidence-free theory, strongly suggesting that Fox is deliberately booking guests to push that narrative. But remarkably, even though he was appearing on a program that regularly pushes hoaxes, falsehoods, and conspiracy theories, he actually ran into resistance. Steve Doocy immediately pushed back, saying he had heard similar “conspiracy theories” but that it was “too early” to draw such conclusions. When the former detective tried to return to his hypothesis, Brian Kilmeade cut him off, adding that “right now, we are not going to speculate on anything political.”

It was a promising sign for the program’s hosts to try to stop discussion of what they correctly identified as a conspiracy theory, particularly given President Donald Trump’s tendency to watch Fox & Friends and tweet about what he sees. But it didn’t last. If Thursday morning was “too early” to speculate about whether the attempted assassination campaign was a false flag, Friday morning was apparently right on time -- and this time, Kilmeade himself brought up the theory.

“Obviously politics plays a role -- there’s one theme: These people are all critics of President Trump,” Kilmeade said of the bombing targets during an interview with former FBI Special Agent Chad Jenkins. “You say that you cannot rule out a false flag operation. What leads you to believe that?” he asked.

Jenkins’ theory was largely the same as Guastamacchia’s. Pointing out that none of the bombs had exploded, he claimed that there were “two primary” options: “One, we have the worst right-wing bomb maker in history or we have a false flag operation, where it’s a left-wing type of operation to create hysteria and to play on the hearts and minds of those who would be independents or undecideds come the midterms.”

But this time, the “false flag” theory was not met with scorn. Instead, co-host Ainsley Earhardt replied, “Yeah, we still don’t know,” adding, “We are being told that there’s no trigger mechanism on all 10 of them, so they were never intended to explode, it appears.”

Instead of denouncing a conspiracy theory, Fox & Friends is giving it fuel. The situation has returned to normal.