At the end of tonight's CNN special, Guns in America, President Obama took a moment to address the conspiracy theories that always swirl whenever there's mention of the words "gun safety laws" in his administration.
This gave Anderson Cooper the perfect opportunity to illustrate why cable news is so lost.
As the President was speaking, Cooper interrupted, asking, "Is it fair to call it a conspiracy? I mean, a lot of people really believe this deeply."
A lot of people believe a lot of things deeply. Feeling something or believing something doesn't make it any less of a conspiracy theory. I believe that JFK was shot by multiple assassins and that it was definitely a conspiracy. That doesn't make me right, and in fact, all of the official investigations suggest I'm wrong. But for Cooper, it seems that believing something automatically means it's not a conspiracy theory?
The President took the question in stride with some serious laughter attached.
"I'm sorry, Cooper, yes," the President laughed. "It is fair to call it a conspiracy. Are you suggesting the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away so we can impose martial law is not a conspiracy? Yes, that is a conspiracy. I would hope that you would agree with that."
President Obama then turned the question back on Cooper, asking, "Is that controversial?"
"There are certainly a lot of people who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to go further and further and further," Cooper countered.
Incredulous, Obama reminded everyone that he's only going to be in office another year. "When would I have started on this enterprise?," he asked.
From there he went on to discuss his encounters with people in downstate Illinois, and his understanding of those who hunt for sport and have guns to protect themselves in rural areas.
This was one of the funnier moments in what was otherwise a serious, substantive discussion about his proposals to make our gun laws a little tighter and a little safer. He was unafraid to confront questions from the likes of Paul Babeu, the Arizona wingnut sheriff running for Congress.
All in all, it was an excellent hour of substantial policy discussion with people who were willing to have a reasonable discussion from both sides of the issue. And Anderson Cooper should listen to the President's point with regard to those who believe something without a single fact to back it up.