Surprise: Cooper Hits Back at Obama for Suggesting Opponents on Guns Are Conspiracy Theorists

In the latter portion of Thursday night’s CNN “town hall” with President Barack Obama on gun control, host Anderson Cooper surprisingly pushed back at the President’s slam on opponents of his executive actions and policies on guns as conspiracy theorists.

After lobbing a number of tough questions at the President, Cooper stepped in when Obama took his latest dig at those who oppose him and flatly characterized them as believing a government conspiracy: “This notion of a conspiracy out there and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government. Now, there's a long history of them. That's in our DNA. The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority.”

Cooper then told the President: “But let me just jump in. Is it fair to call it a conspiracy? There’s a lot of people believe it deeply, they just don't trust you.”

Obama responded that he does indeed believe that about his critics and referred to the AC360 host by his last name in mocking those well-meaning Americans:

I'm sorry, Cooper, yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy. What are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away so that we can impose martial law is a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy. I would hope you would agree with that. Is that controversial? Except on some website around the country[.]

Before going onto the final question of the event, Cooper tried once again to pin down the President: “There are certainly a lot of people that have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to get — go further and further and further down this road.”

Tell the Truth 2016

Once again, Obama deflected:

 Look, I mean, I'm only going to be here for another year. I don't know when would I have started on this enterprise? Right? I come from the State of Illinois, which we've been talking about Chicago, but down state Illinois is — is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago, and everybody hunts down there, and a lot of folks own guns, and so this is not like alien territory to me. I've got a lot of friends like Mark [Kelly] who are hunters. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from CNN’s Guns in America: Obama Town Hall on January 7 can be found below.

CNN’s Guns in America: Obama Town Hall
January 7, 2016
8:59 p.m. Eastern

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This notion of a conspiracy out there and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government. Now, there's a long history of them. That's in our DNA. The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority —

ANDERSON COOPER: But let me just jump in. Is it fair to call it a conspiracy? 

OBAMA: Well, yeah. 

COOPER: There’s a lot of people believe it deeply, they just don't trust you. 

OBAMA: I'm sorry, Cooper, yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy. What are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away so that we can impose martial law —

COOPER: But there is certainly — 

OBAMA: — is a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy. I would hope you would agree with that. Is that controversial? Except on some website around the country -- 

COOPER: There are certainly a lot of people that have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to get — go further and further and further down this road. 

OBAMA: Look, I mean, I'm only going to be here for another year. I don't know when would I have started on this enterprise? Right? I come from the State of Illinois, which we've been talking about Chicago, but down state Illinois is — is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago, and everybody hunts down there, and a lot of folks own guns, and so this is not like alien territory to me. I've got a lot of friends like Mark who are hunters. I just came back from Alaska where I ate a moose that had just been shot, and it was pretty good.

So yes, it is a false notion that I believe is circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together among people of goodwill to develop common sense rules to make it safer while preserving the Second Amendment and the notion that we can't agree on some things while not agreeing on others and the reason for that is because well, the President secretly wants to do X — would mean that we would be paralyzed about doing everything. I mean, maybe when I propose to make sure that, you know, unsafe drugs are taken off the market that secretly, I'm trying to control the entire drug industry or take people's drugs away, but probably not. What's more likely is I just want to make sure that people are not dying by taking bad drugs. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center