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Column: Our Desperate Conspiracy-Prone Press

The term “conspiracy theory” is often associated with kooks and panic peddlers, who see nefarious secret forces leading us all to our doom. It’s linked to people pushing transparently silly-sounding tropes – like the QAnon clan who claim Hillary Clinton’s running a global Satanist pedophile sex ring out of pizza parlors.

It’s sad that anyone falls for feverish gunk like this.

The press is extremely unhappy with Donald Trump for poisoning the political waters with conspiracy theories. They expressed disgust with  Trump’s recent stream of suggestions that a dramatic increase in mail-in voting will lead inevitably to the most fraudulent election in American history. The “fact checkers” insist this prediction is somehow a “lie,” when the future hasn’t happened yet.

This is an odd pose for people who have spent the entire Trump presidency filling the gaping cable-news hole with wild-eyed speculation about the future. Their “investigative journalism” began with anti-Trump conspiracy theories. Even when they can’t prove them, they still hang the clouds over Trump’s White House.  

It’s been a constant refrain for liberal TV pundits to suggest that Donald Trump will never leave office peacefully if he loses. Some, like former Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm, energetically summoned the cinematic vision of Trump unleashing military deployments and seizing ballot boxes

In February, Politico predicted Trump sabotaging a Biden transition….and journalists somehow overlook how their forces sabotaged the Trump transition. James Comey was playing power games to destroy Trump aide Michael Flynn. There were other assorted “Obamagate” shenanigans in the FISA courts and in the protective liberal bubbles around oppositional anonymous sources.

Most of Trump’s term in office has been dominated with wild talk of Trump’s campaign colluding with the Russian government, a conspiracy theory that Robert Mueller’s team of angry Democrats and Hillary donors helpfully dragged out until the 2018 midterms were over, even though they knew early on they didn’t have any collusion to prosecute. It’s a sick joke that Democrat prosecutor Andrew Weissman asserts in a new book that they were somehow impaired “by their own reluctance to be aggressive.”

In July, Hillary Clinton emerged on MSNBC to offer her conspiracy theory on why Donald Trump commuted Roger Stone’s prison sentence. “I think it’s pretty clear that Stone threatened him. He probably threatened him privately, but he also threatened him publicly about what he would say if he had to go to prison.”

It’s always hilarious to hear the Clintons charging someone ELSE with obstructing justice or playing games with pardons.

In August, Ted Koppel –  who spent years chasing the baseless “October Surprise” theory that Ronald Reagan messed with the American hostages in Iran to beat Jimmy Carter — popped up on CBS’s Sunday Morning  to allege that Trump might suspend the Constitution through so-called “Presidential Emergency Action Documents.” Former Democrat Senator Gary Hart called them a “blueprint for dictatorship.”

Throughout this president’s term, we’ve witnessed a long-running garbage barge of claims that Trump is an authoritarian who is mentally unfit and who should face a righteous 25th Amendment removal from office by his own Cabinet. How many times were we told that the “walls were closing in” and Trump would never finish his term?

So conspiracy theories have a use in political communication. Trump uses them to whip up his support. Our desperate conspiracy-prone press uses them to make Trump sound as dangerously unglued and criminal as they can to turn out the Democrats.

The press doesn’t exist to extinguish conspiracy theories. They often attempt to make them sound as distinguished as they can. 

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