On Wednesday night, there was an extraordinary story on Rachel Maddow's show about the right-wing theory that the Fast and Furious "gun-walking" effort was a secret Obama administration plot to generate gun violence, so it could then push for stricter gun laws. As Maddow reported, the idea was first promoted by Mike Vanderboegh, a right-wing blogger and militia member, who'd previously urged readers to break windows at local Democratic Party headquarters -- a call to action that was followed by quite a few such incidents, including one at the office of then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Vanderboegh is now regularly invited on Fox News to discuss Fast and Furious. (Oh, and as Betty Cracker has noted, Vanderboegh is also the author of a popular Turner Diaries-style novel that has actually inspired would-be terrorists.)
Last night, Maddow did a follow-up report asking whether mainstream reporters are really going to take the Fast and Furious story seriously. She compared it to the Shirley Sherrod story, which also bubbled up from the wingnut fever swamps and was ultimately revealed to have been based on a lie.
Here's what Maddow said in the conclusion to her follow-up story:
This is a test. This is a test. We have been here before. We know how this ends. News media of America, you are getting baited to cover this story that Fox and the right have cooked up in their own special cockamamie marinade for more than a year now. Are you gonna swallow this one, too?My take on this is slightly different. Shirley Sherrod did nothing wrong; there simply was no "scandal" in anything Sherrod did. Something was screwed up in Fast and Furious, and it would be swell if we could get to the bottom of that, in an atmosphere of good faith rather than naked partisanship.
I don't want the press not to cover these stories. I want the press to cover the story of the way these stories are generated. I want right-wing media to be the story. In the case of Fast and Furious, I want the story to be the acceptance of a lunatic right-wing conspiracy theory by prominent, powerful members of Congress -- and remember that this is a theory that is exactly as crazy as birtherism.
In the clip above, Darrell Issa says he thinks Fast and Furious was a plot to advance gun control. Other members of Congress say the same thing. So does Rush Limbaugh. And it matters that Fox News -- which is America's top-rated cable news channel and is considered a serious enough news organization to get a front-row seat in the White House briefing room -- advances this theory.
Dear mainstream media: when major players in our political life are crazy, it's a major story. And you refuse to report it.
President Obama was going to press for stricter gun control after F&F led to deaths? Really? The same President Obama who didn't press for stricter gun control after Gabby Giffords was shot, or after a neo-Nazi shot up the Holocaust Museum?
This is the story: one entire political wing in this country has taken leave of its senses. I know you won't, but I'm begging you: report this story, dammit.