A Conspiracy Theorist And His Powerful Pals
NOTE: Today it was revealed that both Sean Spicer and Jared Kushner (Trump's son-in-law) are registered to vote in two states, the very kind of "voter fraud" Trump has been railing about. Also Trump announced - but then rescinded - a 20% tax on imported goods from Mexico as a way of punishing Mexico and paying for "The Wall." Will the Trumpettes ever figure out that this is only going to make all those, fruits veggies, and automobiles that we import from Mexico cost them 20% more? That $400 tax cut ain't gonna last very long when your monthly grocery bill climbs by 20% or your new Taurus cost a couple of thousand bucks more.
12/03/15 09:26 AM—UPDATED 12/03/15 09:42 AM
By Steve Benen
For those unfamiliar with Alex Jones, it’s genuinely difficult to know where to start. I suppose the easiest way to describe him is to note that when it comes to wild-eyed, over-the-top conspiracy theories, Jones tends to be in a league of his own.
Media Matters noted that Jones’ website Infowars.com “has called him ‘one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement,’ which believes the government was behind the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Jones has also pushed conspiracy theories about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, and several mass shootings,” including the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
With this in mind, it was unsettling to see the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination appear on Jones’ show and sing his praises. BuzzFeed reported yesterday:
Republican front-runner Donald Trump appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show on Wednesday in a lengthy display of mutual appreciation.
Appearing on a blurry video connection, Trump talked to Jones about Trump’s false claims about Muslims in New Jersey cheering 9/11, Hillary Clinton, and Trump’s book, among other topics. Jones told Trump he had been “vindicated” in his claims.
Those claims, of course, have been thoroughly discredited.
BuzzFeed’s report added, “Going on Infowars is an unusual move for a frontrunner. Though fringier candidates like Ron Paul have gone on the show (and his son Rand did so shortly after winning his Senate seat in Kentucky), Jones’ conspiracy theories are simply too out there for mainstream candidates to risk being associated with.”
And yet, here we are. Trump, still leading all Republican presidential polling, not only appeared on Jones’ show, the Republican candidate told the conspiracy theorist, “Your reputation’s amazing.”
Alex Jones certainly has a reputation, though I’m not sure “amazing” is the best available adjective.
It’s important to note that there are radical characters of every political and ideological stripe. There are left-wing crackpots and right-wing crackpots. There’s a liberal fringe and a conservative fringe. No side of the political divide has a monopoly on ridiculous figures.
The difference in contemporary politics is that mainstream Democratic figures go out of their way to keep the liberal fringe at arm’s length, while mainstream Republican figures – including, say, prominent candidates for the nation’s highest office – have no qualms about embracing the conservative fringe.
Indeed, if this were limited to Trump, one might credibly argue that he, too, is a ridiculous figure in American politics, but as regular readers know, he’s not alone. Just over the last couple of years, we’ve seen Republican officeholders in state legislatures, the U.S. House, and even the U.S. Senate take Alex Jones’ ideas seriously. Trump took the extra step of actually appearing on Jones’ show, but so too has Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a spirited conspiracy theorist in his own right.
If there’s a comparable dynamic in Democratic politics, I’m eager to hear about it, though I’m fairly confident it doesn’t exist.
NOTE: I’ve posted this piece to let you know that I’m not the only one who’s concerned that Trump and his staff are very much taken with Alex Jones and conspiracy theories of all sorts. Trump’s “all elections are rigged” is probably the most damning of statements that he’s made that comports with the closely held conspiracy beliefs of Alex Jones and the other alt.right folks. To say nothing of his voters. Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, one of the most prolific of right wing fake news sites, is serving as Trump’s White House assistant and he too is a fellow trafficker in such cockamamie fantasies. It remains to be seen whether or not Trump will follow on with this junk as a footing for his actions. It’s unlikely that the Republican controlled Congress will go along, but then they have an entirely different agenda which basically involves the destruction of every social support – Social Security, Medicare, and the ACA for example – that they’ve been trying to implement since George Bush I.
Scary Times Folks. It’s Why We Must Resist.