BERTRAND: Russiagate is a Real-Life International Conspiracy, So Why Do Conspiracy Theorists Side with Trump?
Conspiracy Theorists Become Establishment Tools Under ‘God Emperor’ Trump
There’s no evidence the Russian government is responsible for a string of deaths affecting people named in the Christopher Steele dossier. But aren’t the words “no evidence” catnip to conspiracy theorists?
If the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich warrants further investigation, if you believe there’s even a remote chance that some part of #Pizzagate might be true, or if you believe in the possibility of a deep state coup conducted by remnants of the Obama administration—then surely the rash of mysterious deaths affecting foreign agents with ties to Donald Trump’s administration is at least worthy of consideration. Right?
The answer, to quote the president, is apparently WRONG!
That’s fine. There’s absolutely no evidence these deaths were caused by anything more nefarious than Russia’s abysmal life expectancy rate. But right or wrong, it’s an element of intrigue that seems tailormade for conspiracy theorists—a demographic whose ostensible dedication is to the unfiltered truth, no matter where that takes them on the political spectrum.
And yet conspiratorial minds, consolidated under the stewardship of Alex Jones, have become Trump’s most vocal boosters. Ordinary Trump fans, who heretofore didn’t believe in lizard people or secret societies deep within the hollow earth, are joining in the fun—if only to counter the slow drip of revelations connecting the 45th president to Russian oligarchs.
Conservative voters mostly believe Trump’s infantile deflections, bolstered by the intellectual wing’s shameless apologia for a man who actively undermines conservative values. Ideological integrity means nothing when potshots at Democrats and the media sell like MAGA hats to yokels.
And those potshots are popular with another reality-challenged demographic: the bandwagoners who bravely stood by Senator Bernie Sanders during his run for the presidency, abandoned the progressive movement soon afterward, and now spend their time dreaming up exciting new ways to call people sheep.
Russiagate has all the markings of an international conspiracy, unraveling before our very eyes—and yet reactionaries on both the right and the left continue to harp on comparatively minor issues with the DNC, or with the media, or with Hillary Clinton’s foundation (Personally, I think it looks great. But she could use some more help contouring).
Hillary Clinton, like the Third Way politics her husband shoved down our throats (a familiar action for the 42nd president), is predictably corrupt. But she probably didn’t make Benghazi happen by summoning the disembodied demon-spirit of George Soros to steal all those emails from Bernie Sanders. Probably.
That’s one of many reasons “fake news” (which we used to call hoaxes until the Donald’s limited linguistic capacity retarded our own) exists in the first place. Reality, even a politically ugly reality like the private email scandal, just isn’t juicy enough. The insights gleaned from the DNC leak were significant, but not nearly as sensational as a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant in Washington D.C.
It’s dangerous business to take the fringe-web mainstream. You don’t have to believe every fatuous claim in a news story on a far-right blog. You only have to read enough such material, regularly, to internalize casual falsehoods. This is the basis upon which modern disinformation campaigns are built.
As a friend of mine likes to point out, many of Donald Trump’s fans don’t take his words literally. They’re attracted to the bluster, the puffery, the casual distortions. It’s all, simply, true enough. Inevitably, Sean Spicer will shuffle into the press room and provide some auxiliary information that kind of, sort of, explains (maybe) what the president meant, perhaps.
Well, what of the infamous Christopher Steele dossier? Couldn’t that also be true enough? It’s certainly true enough to garner the attention of the FBI. It is, apparently, true enough to present to both President Obama and President-elect Trump during an intelligence briefing. It’s true enough that individuals named in the document keep dying in what sound like comically contradictory circumstances. Could it be that this document has some merit?
What leads a person to to at least partially believe in an obvious fabrication like #Pizzagate, but dismiss reporting on the many connections between team Trump and the Russian oligarchs? Or dismiss that there is a confirmed investigation into the matter, full stop?
What makes the conspiratorial mind so allergic to mainstream reporting, even when stalwarts like Alex Jones become defenders of the heretofore compromised-by-lizard-people White House?
The answer lies in a deliberately engineered false equivalence.
Not unlike self-styled nutritionists who discourage legitimate medical treatment in lieu of the snake oils they just happen to sell, conspiratorial media has a stake in denigrating the mainstream press—and convincing their hapless followers that they alone can be trusted. To put it in the kind of cavemanish terms an Alex Jones listener might comprehend: They tell you true fact bad and fake fact good. But they only want make money off you. Me Thron, master of fire!
CNN and Richard Spencer Reads The News! are not equal and opposite representations of the truth. Reuters is not a partisan news source. The Associated Press is not working for the Democrats or funded by George Soros. If you believe these stalwarts are all left-wing funded political organizations, part of a grand Marxist conspiracy to undermine the God Emperor, you have a long way to go before you beat Koko (or any moderately intelligent simian) in a game of chess.
Per the sometimes absurd Noam Chomsky, the problem with corporate media isn’t necessarily what gets reported. Generally speaking, it’s what isn’t reported. The majority of American media outlets are owned by just fifteen billionaires. This creates problems just slightly more sophisticated and nuanced than what your friend Kevin encounters while writing his latest blog post (“Hillary Clinton is a literal witch and wants to eat YOUR babies!”).
Indeed, the flaws of what we call objective media are subtle. But something tells me subtly isn’t an American strong suit. Nor is nuance. Nor is the ability to process information, to pursue information even, without selectively internalizing only the bits that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Heaven forbid any of us ever be, to quote the president, WRONG!
If only this infamous list of now-deceased human beings were posted to a half-baked WordPress website called Truth Finder or Liberty Report or Information Rebellion Syndicate Now! Then surely some Hunter or Tanner or Brackston would show up to Jeff Sessions’ office with an automatic rifle. You know, to “get answers”. #Sheeple #WakeUp
Featured photo via The Kremlin.
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Timothy Bertrand is an author and journalist from Houston, Texas. He is the Associate Editor at Reverb Press and splits his time between covering breaking news and penning thoughtful literary essays.