Though Fast and Furious was basically born on network television, cable’s Fox News Channel took up the cause with vigor, often hyping the more conspiratorial angles. Near the beginning, right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin (6/22/11) told Sean Hannity that it might make sense to see the story through another popular right-wing lens: “You have government malfeasance at the worst level possible.... Tens of millions of dollars in stimulus money have gone to expand ‘Fast and Furious.’”
But the real scandal, for people like Malkin, lay in the possibility that the Obama White House, while overtly doing next to nothing to promote gun control policies, was actually hatching a plot to restrict gun ownership. That theory was advanced in numerous venues by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who told Fox viewers (12/8/11), “Very clearly, they made a crisis and they are using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.”
That message was echoed by Fox regulars like Malkin who, on the Hannity show (6/20/12), explained that the administration could have been letting guns walk due to its “underlying gun-control agenda.” Right-wing pundit Katie Pavlich, who has written a whole book about the Fast and Furious conspiracy, told Hannity (6/15/12): “This operation was not only stupid, but it also had a very sinister, anti–Second Amendment agenda behind it. And the Justice Department was willing to use humans as collateral damage to push this unpopular policy around Congress and behind the backs of the American people.”
And Fox regular Monica Crowley (6/20/12) raised the conspiracy:
Where we keep talking about the idea this is a botched operation of “Fast and Furious,” it may not have been. Maybe—and this is just speculation—but maybe what they are trying to hide here is the fact that this was all by design.... This operation was set up as an assault on the Second Amendment.
Flood the zone with guns. Actually have some dead bodies. I don’t think they intended American dead bodies, but then trace the guns back to the United States as an excuse to crack down on legal gun ownership.
Given that estimates of the number of guns illegally smuggled to Mexico go as high as 2,000 per day (Washington Post, 10/29/07), and that these guns are already responsible for thousands of deaths in Mexico, it’s hard to imagine how the government could “flood the zone” with enough guns to visibly worsen the problem. But then, when it comes to conspiracy theories, logic is less important than identifying the proper enemy.