Tinfoil hat media
On October 2, 2013, Steve Benen of MSNBC mocked Republicans for “embracing odd conspiracy theories.” Benen cited a poll by Public Policy Polling, one of the few pollsters that admits its liberal bias.
He said, “62% of Republicans believe the Obama administration is secretly trying to take everyone's guns away.”
As Politico pointed out, that poll showed 36% of all Americans believe that, including 14% of Democrats. That’s not really a conspiracy theory. That is just Democrats denying their real intent and ultimate goal.
Benen said, “44% of Republicans believe President Obama is secretly trying to figure out a way to stay in office beyond January 2017.”
Now we are onto something, and guess what? The theory is true. There was a conspiracy. Obama broke precedent and refused a peaceful transfer of power. His administration encouraged federal employees to resist President Trump. Obama’s administration actually called it a resistance — which is the dictionary definition of sedition.
If it is true, it is not a conspiracy theory. It is a statement of fact.
Benen said, “42% of Republicans fear Sharia Law making its way into America's courts.” It is too early to say if that is true or untrue.
He said, “21% of Republicans believe that the U.S. government engages in so-called ‘false flag’ operations, where the government plans and executes terrorist or mass shooting events.”
A jury in Michigan acquitted two defendants in the never acted upon plan to kidnap the governor. Jurors cited the role of an FBI informant in planning this half-baked plot. The FBI has a long record of trying to entrap people, including DC Mayor Marion Berry.
I will not go into the role of the FBI and Capitol Police in the January 6 protest.
Benen said, “27% of Republicans think a group of world bankers are slowly eliminating paper currency to force most banking online — only to cut the power grid so regular citizens can't access money and are forced into worldwide slavery.”
8 years later, Bloomberg News reported, “Canadian banks froze about $7.8 million (US$6.1 million) in just over 200 accounts under emergency powers meant to end protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings, a government official said Tuesday.”
And the World Economic Forum has made no secret of its support of a cashless society.
So out of the five theories, only the one about Sharia Law has not come true. Give it time.
You know who really does don a tinfoil chapeau? None other than Steve Benen. A full six months before Obama gave the world the quackery about Russian Collusion, Mister Benen was writing paranoiac pieces about Putin conspiring with Trump to rig the 2016 election.
On July 20, 2016, Benen wrote, “Just how far do Trump’s ties to Putin go?
“Donald Trump isn't eager to talk about his Vladimir Putin associations. That won’t be a sustainable posture much longer.”
Thus Benen was a Russian Collusion conspiracy whack job when being a Russian Collusion conspiracy whack job wasn’t coo-ool.
What was his proof? He wrote, “Slate’s Franklin Foer noted two weeks ago, ‘If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests — and advance his own — he'd look a lot like Donald Trump.’ New York's Jon Chait added this week that Trump's relationship with Russia ‘is disturbing and lends itself to frightening interpretations.’”
Oh, that’s evidence all right: evidence of the need for a check-up from the neck up.
Benen has served as executive producer of Rachel Maddow’s show for roughly a decade. It was the top non-Fox cable news show for most of those years. She has since cut her show back to one day a week but in her heyday, she promoted the Russian Collusion hoax.
But CNN got the ball rolling.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect, CNN reported, “Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
“The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.
“The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.”
CNN conspired with the Obama administration to turn that two-page summary into the biggest and most bogus scandal in DC history. CNN triggered a media frenzy that lasted for years and stunted the presidency of a man chosen by 30 states. And it was all a lie. All of it. Hillary’s campaign, the Democrat Party and Obama colluded with the Kremlin to create a dossier that falsely accused President Trump of collusion. How ironic. How despotic. How utterly unAmerican.
It is just one of the media-approved tinfoil hat conspiracy theories. Remember the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Hoax?
Police Sergeant Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael D. Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. Early on, there was a rumor that he had his hands up at the time. CNN not only accepted this as fact but promoted the idea. This went on for months and spread to other media.
Media Research Center reported, “On Saturday afternoon, December 13, four CNN analysts simultaneously showed solidarity with protesters, three of them endorsing the false Hands Up, Don’t Shoot narrative.
“Three with hands up: CNN analyst Margaret Hoover, Sally Kohn, also a CNN political analyst, and Mel Robbins, a CNN legal analyst. Sunny Hostin, CNN legal analyst, held up piece of paper with ‘I can’t breathe’ written on it.”
Other media outlets joined in the conspiracy theory. Celebrities and sports stars promoted it. Sports Illustrated reported on November 30, 2014, “St. Louis police officers angered by Rams’ ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ pose.
“Five St. Louis Rams players took the field for Sunday's home game against the Oakland Raiders with a ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ pose that has been used by protestors in Ferguson and across the country recently.”
But the grand jury refused to indict Wilson for murder. The Department of Justice investigated and found no evidence that Brown had his hands in the air.
Seven months later, on March 5, 2015, CNN reported, “Physical and forensic evidence in fact contradict claims by witnesses who have maintained that Brown had his hands up, above his waist when Wilson shot him, the Justice Department concluded.”
In other words, the riots that destroyed much of Ferguson were for naught. But the lie stuck and grew a life of its own. On the first anniversary of Brown’s death, NPR reported, “Whether History Or Hype, ‘Hands Up, Don't Shoot’ Endures.”
In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the reporter tells Jimmy Stewart’s character, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
60 years later, fiction is the core of journalism. The rule in the media is if everyone believes it, then it isn’t a lie, so repeat it until they do believe.
Which is why on January 29, 2019, actor Jussie Smollett tried to use a lie to save himself from being axed from the TV show Empire. He staged an attack on himself on a cold Chicago morning at 2 AM. He hired a pair of Nigerian brothers to be the racist, homophobic white attackers in MAGA hats who hit him and put a noose around his neck — made from a clothesline.
Yes, it was that bad.
While Kevin Hart, Kamala Harris and other modern-day Frederick Douglasses condemned the attack, the rest of America rolled its eyeballs. CNN became part of the story, which was revealed when Smollett was tried for lying to the police.
The Daily Mail reported on December 6, 2021, “Jussie Smollett reveals CNN's Don Lemon warned him via text in 2019 that cops didn't believe his account of attack: Host is accused of unethical behavior just days after Chris Cuomo was fired for helping his brother fight sex-pest claims.”
Lemon kept his job but his ratings fell and a few years later, he lost his prime-time slot.
Last week, John Nolte reported, “If you recall, Lemon was demoted from his basement-rated primetime perch to save CNN’s failed morning show. With Lemon on board, New Day became CNN This Morning, and you’ll never guess what happened. CNN This Morning is a catastrophe that averaged only 331,000 viewers.”
Management may not have punished Lemon, but viewers did.
CNN reminds me of the department store Santa in the film Elf, who is admonished by the title character: “You sit on a throne of lies.” CNN, too, sits on a throne of lies — in the basement. Its audience is small. Its damage is large.
On January 20, 2019, CNN reported, “Teens in Make America Great Again hats taunted a Native American elder at the Lincoln Memorial.”
The story said, “A crowd of teenagers surrounded a Native American elder and other activists and mocked them after Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial.
“Videos of the confrontation show a smiling young man in a red Make America Great Again hat standing directly in front of the man, who was playing a drum and chanting. Other kids could be seen laughing, jumping around and making fun of the chants.”
But it turned out the boys from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were waiting for a bus when the Indian — Nathan Phillips — approached them. He taunted Nick Sandmann, who said nothing and did nothing as the older and taller man got in his face.
But school officials and the organizers of the March for Life believed CNN and condemned the boys because conservative leaders will throw anyone under the bus rather than offend a liberal.
Because of CNN’s reporting, Sandmann got death threats. But conservatives rallied behind the lad and there was a video that showed the Indian got in his face, not the other way around. CNN settled Sandmann’s defamation lawsuit out of court.
More than a year later, another teen got in serious trouble. On August 25, 2020, while protecting a car lot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from rioters, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, shot and killed two men who attacked him and wounded a third man. This was news and CNN reported it. But CNN’s commentators went over-the-top in portraying Rittenhouse as a vigilante from out of state going hunting for protesters.
Originally, Rittenhouse was not the target of CNN’s wrath. The news channel went after the Orange Man first. Six days after the arrest, CNN said, “Trump refuses to denounce violent actions by right-wing agitators.”
Only when that failed did CNN go after the kid.
On November 20, 2020, CNN posted a column by Elizabeth Leiba, a black woman, who implied that Rittenhouse, a white boy, killing two white men and wounding a third white man was racist.
She said, “‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a phrase we can all recite without even thinking about. It’s as synonymous with America as ‘Liberty and justice for all’ or ‘Land of the free and home of the brave.’
“But scrolling through social media recently, I felt a pang of sadness at just how hollow those statements ring for black people in America.”
At 19, she had been arrested for shoplifting four batteries worth $2.49. Police arrested and handcuffed her. Charges were dropped and she later won a civil lawsuit.
She ended her column, “I wonder how this situation would have played out if he were black?”
In Chicago, he would have a 50/50 chance of being arrested because only half the homicide cases in Chicago are solved. That’s because most of the murderers are young black men killing other young black men. Black lives do not matter there.
But facts are to the media what bicycles are to fish.
Covid showed the media at its worse as it condemned as conspiracy theories things that turned out to be true.
Scientific America on August 18, 2020, reported, “Nine COVID-19 Myths That Just Won’t Go Away.”
It said, “Myth 1: The novel coronavirus was engineered in a lab in China.”
It was downhill from there.
“Myth 4: You don’t need to wear a mask.” Studies now show that cloth masks don’t stop viruses.
“Myth 6: The Black Lives Matter protests led to increased transmission.” But surfing in the ocean by yourself does? If you can protest without spreading the virus, you can do anything else.
“Myth 9: Any vaccine will be unsafe and a bigger risk than getting COVID-19.” I ain’t saying it is true and I ain’t saying it is false. I do notice a lot of athletes are dropping dead suddenly these days.
The vaccines were not as good as advertised but boy, were they advertised.
Stephen Colbert does not wear a tinfoil hat. He wears a hypodermic needle sombrero.
When Benen mocked people for “embracing odd conspiracy theories,” he meant people should embrace only conspiracy theories approved by the media. He’s right, you know, because those are the only authentic conspiracy theories. The rest are mostly the truth the media won’t report.