Pandemics & Politics

The soup of conspiracy mongering about the covid-19 pandemic has never truly settled on a clear story. Even as the virus began spreading internationally, reactions ranged from claims that China was exaggerating the numbers of people infected to China was hiding the ‘true’ scale of infection. The common theme with conspiratorial thinking is that genuine doubt, genuine ignorance and genuine shifts in opinion about a novel situation are actually examples of deceit. There is a paradoxical relationship with authority and expertise in any conspiracy theory as the claims of deception always imply that the authorities genuinely do know a lot more about the true state of affairs than everybody else but are lying about it.

The most recent iteration of covid conspiracy-mongering is the ‘Plandemic’ conspiracy video which has sprouted out of anti-vaccine conspiracies. You can read more about it here but there is also a good analysis of conspiracy-theory thinking which uses it as an example here The conspiracy is being promoted among some sections of the media in the usual just-asking-questions/exploring-the-controversy way:

“Local television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group are set to air a conspiracy theory over the weekend that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.The baseless conspiracy theory is set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling. The show, which is posted online before it is broadcast over the weekend, is distributed to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s network of local television stations, one of the largest in the country. A survey by Pew Research Group earlier this year showed that local news was a vital source of information on the coronavirus for many Americans, and more trusted than the media overall.”[1]

What the various conspiracy theories have in common is a belief that pandemic fears and public health measures are specifically a plot against Donald Trump. The details vary (or even contradict each other) but they aim to support a motive for the imagined conspiracy i.e. that the ‘ruling classes’ have manufactured pandemic fears as a way to undermine Donald Trump. To support this idea conspiracy-theorists point to pre-pandemic articles discussing how Trump might cope with a pandemic (e.g. this one by Ed Yong in 2016 ) as evidence that people were ‘planning’ to use pandemic fears against Trump.

Ironically, across the world many political leaders have gained popular support as a consequence of the pandemic ( ). This pandemic poll-boost has helped politicians both on the left and right and isn’t tied to any particular policy measure nor even whether the covid-19 response was particularly successful. Clear messaging and decisive policy appear to be the main factors but even the shambolic Boris Johnson gained an initial popularity boost (although he eventually squandered it ).

The reality of natural disasters, including pandemics, is that they can often boost the standing of national leaders. Nor is it difficult to gain support because it is mainly a halo effect from the leader being seen in the company of competent people doing their jobs at a time when people will naturally hope for national unity. It actually takes some effort to mess up. Notably, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, managed to do this during the 2019/20 bushfire crisis leading to a rapid plummet in support and humiliating scenes of firefighters refusing to shake his hand. Conversely, Morrison saw his poll numbers boosted during the pandemic, mainly by not repeating the same basic errors he had a few months earlier.

In short, natural disasters are more likely to boost a national leader than undermine them. As a plot against Trump, a pandemic would be a terrible idea: all Trump would need to do is look presidential, let experts speak and pat them on the back. Of course, there is a counter-argument here. A pandemic may well be an actually electoral boost for most politicians but specifically a problem for Trump. As we have seen, Trump has spectacularly failed but this was entirely due to his own incompetence and the incompetence of his cronies. Even so, in late March, the pandemic led to Trump’s approval numbers steadily improving, only to be undermined by Trump’s inability to handle a crisis.

In short, as a plot against Trump, a pandemic would only undermine Trump’s popularity if Trump was actually a uniquely bad president. Of course, he is actually a uniquely bad president, so I guess that is one thing the conspiracy theories have going for them.

[1] Apparently Sinclair media have since changed their plans

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38 responses to “Pandemics & Politics”

  1. John Oliver did a typically good piece on Covid-19 conspiracy theories, including dissection of “Plandemic”, in last week’s episode of Last Week Tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The whole QAnon thing is that Trump and his minions are getting ready to arrest Democrats and prominent media people for being baby-eating pedophile child traffickers any minute now — for the last three and a half years. And so the horrible ring supposedly is crashing the economy with the pandemic to keep Trump from being re-elected and arresting them, which he can now only do if he’s re-elected because there’s always one more thing that has to happen before the arrests happen. Anybody who does not kowtow to whatever Trump spews is then included in the conspiracy.

    Sinclair doesn’t actually believe the QAnon thing, but airing support for it keeps them tightening political and financial control, especially now that QAnon supporting pols are taking over a wedge of the Republican party. It’s like the Truther conspiracy which fed into the Jade Helm conspiracy — it’s ridiculous but it gives a whole cult of being the in group to the faithful, which makes them exploitable. And it’s totally flexible. If Trump is voted out and leaves so his family can do their t.v. empire if they can get out of the lawsuits, then QAnon adherents will just say that Trump was thwarted by the Deep State conspiracy and they can go on and on about its supposed existence and insidious practices forever. It’s a Doomsday cult that never actually has to produce a Doomsday, but just borrows whatever events actually occur, like the pandemic. All started by 4chan trolls and then taken up by the Russians and right wing media like Sinclair.

    Liked by 5 people

    • +++ then QAnon adherents will just say that Trump was thwarted by the Deep State conspiracy and they can go on and on about its supposed existence and insidious practices forever+++

      Do you think they’d admit that though? Something I’ve noticed about the way the Qberts keep reworking their mythology is that Trump CANNOT lose. He cannot ever be seen to be anything less than a literal superhero who’s ten steps ahead of the game at every turn – portraying him as suffering even the tiniest setback is unacceptable. Thus the “Hillary and all those other decadent celebs are gonna be arrested any day now!” didn’t morph into “Trump couldn’t arrest them because of X”, it had to turn into “they were all arrested and tried and convicted JUST AS PLANNED and if you see them in public just as if nothing had happened it’s because Trump is using them to lull the rest of the Deep State into complacency and you can totally see where their clothes are covering up their ankle monitors…” etc.

      So if he ends up, as you say, out on his ear and running his grift via a media network they’ll come up with a story about how he totally intended for this to happen, he’s even more in control than before, and the evidence that his enemies are routed is all around if you just know where to look…


      • The Q hoax was built off of conspiracies on Reddit around Pizzagate, which was an election conspiracy against H. Clinton that built off some Tea Party-Obama Birther conspiracies but mainly around the conspiracy theories of the New Conservatives led by Gringrich during Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990’s, combined with the long lasting Satanic Panic of the Moral Majority in the 1980’s. The Q hoaxers centered the variant conspiracy theory on Trump as a victorious avenging angel and that process advanced because Trump’s campaign and admin was being investigated for working with the Russians by the Mueller task force and some of those Trump aides were getting arrested. That was a defeat for right wing white people so they believed the conspiracy theory that Trump and co. were actually thwarting “Deep State” saboteurs.

        But the bones of the conspiracy were still centered on the old ideas — the New World Order creating the Deep State trying to take over and running a child trafficking ring and other sinful crimes. They added more and more anti-Muslim conspiracies from the Truther club that was the main club in the W. Bush years in the oughts, because Trump had utilized anti-Muslim hatred in 2016-2017, while being in bed with the Saudis, but that’s been de-emphasized just as Trump has de-emphasized it. It was very focused on Hilary Clinton in the beginning, but while she’s still one of the main figures supposedly to be arrested or has been arrested, QAnon has de-centralized her and moved on to other targets or emphasized other old ones like George Soros. Anti-semitism, always a part of the New World Order theories, has increased over Hilary Clinton and Obama focuses. And the child sex trafficking ring, while still there, is sinking more into the background to lurk, as it often does, in favor of tying the Black Lives Matter movement against police and court injustice into the Deep State conspiracy.

        The original Q hoax might have petered out but the Russians grabbed hold of it and spread it on Twitter and Facebook with middle-aged white people. And then Trump’s gang let the QAnon supporters fly their flags and merch at Trump’s rallies, especially once impeachment investigations got under way. That attention created an opportunity for power-seeking Republicans trying to build a wedge faction in the party, just as they had with New Conservatives, Truthers and the Tea Party. And for Republican grifters like Flynn to try to latch on to the QAnons.

        So yes, if Trump loses and leaves, plenty of QAnon supporters will claim it’s all 3-D chess. But the QAnon political candidates, while supporting Trump as a litmus test for conservative purity, are not swearing total loyalty to Trump as fuhrer, nor are they saying they know that QAnon is true. They are instead “raising questions” about Deep State saboteurs and “hoping it is real” that conservative politicians in general are countering these Deep State saboteurs, that right wing values are being pre-eminent again. So it’s morphing and while the political candidates are still bending the knee and seeking Trump’s endorsement, the real focus is on the Deep State saboteurs, how some not sufficiently pure Republicans or admin officials like Fauci are probably also saboteurs or at least not avenging angels and how other conservatives — including themselves — are supposedly thwarting the Deep State in general. If QAnon itself as an idea seems to be petering out if Trump leaves and the various “Q” predictors continue to be unconvincing in predictions, they’ll just change the name. But the general conspiracy theory at the base of it is old and they’ll keep pushing variants of it related to Biden if he wins and Republican pols will use it as a way to try to seize control and run grifts in the Republican party and in Congress.

        It’s just the regular song: our enemies are stealthy and powerful and immoral but we are the real will of the people and will get ahead of them and thwart them at every turn, rebuilding what was lost into a glorious future (or apocalypse, one of the two.) While the original Q hoaxers may have made some cash off of it and certainly can revel in the impact they had, I bet they’re kicking themselves at how it was co-opted by the Russians and grifters for mega-bucks.


  3. Apparently Sinclair is now “delaying” the segment until they can put together “other viewpoints” and contextual material about the topic. I’m guessing that some of the affiliates complained that the segment would make them radioactive to advertisers or something.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One adjustment: It’s not just “Natural Disasters” that cause major poll bumps, it’s all disasters (see 9/11 and W). The problem is for Trump, is that in the rest of the world reactionary parties still function by doing actual GOVERNING. This doesn’t mean they govern WELL, but they actually attempt to use the government’s powers to respond to crises in various ways, whether that just be by messaging or in actual other means of support.

    Trump and the GOP in America have no interest in governing – in fact their method of governing over the years has been to make governing impossible, and use that as an excuse for privatizing as many services as possible, since the government can’t possibly do it after their sabotage! But that doesn’t work in a pandemic, and unlike a crisis caused by another country, there’s no one to point to as the cause to fight against in a Pandemic.

    And that’s really the basis behinds these conspiracies being pushed by people high up in the GOP and by right wing billionaires and their media companies (Sinclair, Fox News, etc.). Since the solution cannot be governing, and doing the usual not-governing bullshitting isn’t working, the answer must be that this is truly a plot by SOMEONE, ANYONE, to attack them personally. These people do not know how to react to things by doing anything other than pointing to someone as a culprit – particularly people who aren’t white men. But a Pandemic doesn’t allow for that which makes the conspiracies all the more utterly deranged.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Regarding politicians and disasters, Gerhard Schröder was re-elected mostly for his response to the Oder flood, which consisted of getting photographed standing next to sandbags and otherwise letting the THW and fire services do their thing. And while I don’t like Schröder, his re-election was a good thing in retrospect, because his opponent was an absolute disaster. And Schröder was gone within two years anyway, making the way free for Angela Merkel.

    And former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt mined his decisive response as senator of the interior for Hamburg to the devastating North Sea flood of 1962, where he called in the military to help with rescue and clean-up operations (which was against the constitution at the time) for years. And people praised him for his actions after the flood, totally ignoring that the lack of adequate flood protection and evacuation and warning plans were also kind of Schmidt’s fault, because as senator of the interior he was in charge of these things.

    Regarding the covid pandemic, right now the minister president of Bavaria Markus Söder is being praised for his decisive actions to combat the pandemic (which mainly consist of more and stricter measures and bullying all other states into going along with them, even those that barely have any infections), even though Bavaria actually has some of the highest infection numbers in Germany.

    So in short, if Trump hadn’t behaved like a complete idiot, he could actually have mined the pandemic for votes and approval, just like Schröder, Schmidt and Söder (all of whom are/were unpleasant people) did/do.


    • Absolutely. Look decisive, let experts speak — this usually works. Trump appearing to be at loggerheads with Dr Fauci hurts Trump (it can’t be nice for Fauci) but Trump can’t stand somebody else getting the limelight even if it would help Trump


      • Another, older, example would be Rudy Giuliani, who did well for himself out of being seen to respond decisively to 9/11.


      • Certainly Nicola Sturgeon has looked good in comparison to Boris by doing exactly that. Even though the overall numbers in Scotland haven’t been that much better per-capita than down south.


    • I disagree slightly. Schroeder won because of several factors.

      1. He mined opposition to the Iraq war (The CDU/CSU supported the Bush administration but were mealymouthed about it and prevaricated because it wasn’t popular)

      2. The campaign was unusually media heavy for Germany. Schröder was media savy and his charm appealed to many while Stoiber really wasn’t. This ties in to the flooding. Schröder showed up and Stoiber was absent.

      3. An conservative win meant savage cuts to the safety net and copious and blind deregulation.

      4. Stoiber was pretty bigoted and racist even for Germany in the 2000s.

      Subtract one or two of these factors and Schröder would have lost.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My example is Ontario Premier Doug Ford. He is the slightly smarter brother of the late Rob Ford, best known as the former mayor of Toronto featured in not one but two videos where he was smoking crack. According to the Globe and Mail, Doug Ford himself was a teenage drug dealer. I cannot stand the man.

    Yet even Doug Ford has managed to improve my opinion of him by listening to the experts and staying out of the way. I really didn’t think the man had it in him, and there’s no way I would vote for the Progressive Conservatives,

    This is not to say that Ontario’s response to COVID-19 has been perfect, either. In comparison to the response of the federal government and states such as Arizona and Florida in the US, though, it’s been fantastic.


    • I often joke that Canadian politics follows the same trajectory as the US just 5 years later, with things like Trudeau being the Canadian Obama-esque figure coming a few years after, and then conservatives in Canada becoming more and more unhinged right wing nutjobs and yet almost winning the PM spots under Scheer, but the COVID response down south I suspect will give a bit more pause of the continuing of the cycle.


  7. “No More Mr. Nice Blog” has made similar points, including that for the brief period it looked like Trump was taking the Trump Virus seriously, he did see a slight uptick in the polls. And many people in the media are still eager to see any sign of Trump pivoting and starting to grow into the presidency (he wore a mask! He said words that had relevant meaning! How presidential!) that they’d cheer.
    But it’s Trump.


  8. You’re right about Bush and 9/11. When that happened I thought people would finally start to see how incompetent he was — he’d ignored a briefing specifically about Bin Laden attacking in the US; he sat stunned for an hour or so after the planes hit, looking stupefied; the first thing his vice president did was run and hide — and yet his approval was around 90% for a while. Just goes to show that no one should hire me as a political consultant.

    Maybe people appreciated the fact that he Did Something, even if it was to attack the wrong country. trump so far had done absolutely nothing. It’s just horrible that it took the deaths of thousands of people to get the traditionally incurious U.S. public to wake up.


  9. I think the Republicans have fallen into a trap. Under Nixon, they made a strong play to pick up the white supremacists who were alienated by the Civil Rights Act. That boosted their numbers, but it ceded the entire non-white vote to the Democrats. Demographics are making America less “white” (although if you count assimilated Hispanic and Asian people as white, not all that much has really happened), which is making it harder and harder for them to win fairly. As a result, they’ve gradually lost almost all the principles they ever had, and they’ve made everything about party. If Trump loses this fall (assuming he’s forced to accept defeat), he may be the last Republican president ever.

    What’s been scary is how successful Trump’s strategy of appealing to people who believe in conspiracy theories has been. I had always imagined those people amounted to maybe 10% of the population–not 1/3 of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As many people have pointed out, the conspiracy thing is honestly as a result of Nixon’s fall, not his rise (as the Southern Strategy was). A movement on the Right believed he should not have had to leave, and decided that the fault was the media – then comprised of local newspapers and a few news stations since cable TV didn’t exist – was to blame for steering public opinion against them. And so, they set about creating their own news ecosystem they could bend to however they wanted, and began a decades long campaign to discredit anything that wasn’t their own media. Obviously this eventually culminated in fox news, but it wasn’t the only source or even the starting point.

      The result is that for a large number of Americans, regular non propaganda-y news is something they’ve been taught their whole life cannot be trusted, and when that’s the case, the only alternate explanations they can find for bad things are conspiracies, which the GOP news bubble then seizes upon and amplifies, resulting in a vicious circle.

      It’s not that 1/3 of the country is susceptible to conspiracies, it’s just that they’ve been told for years that experts and neutral authorities are not to be trusted, leaving them at the mercy of quacks and nutjobs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ” A movement on the Right believed he should not have had to leave”
        Paul Campos of Lawyers, Guns and Money says one Republican donor listed Nixon’s impeachment as one of the things they would never forgive the left. Which is telling, because that shit’s nigh fifty years old.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s still only 10% who believe the conspiracy theories but another 20% who are left in sufficient doubt that they go along with the feeling that there is something fishy going on and it is a vague-set-of-others behind things


    • He should be the last, because much of what’s wrong with him is wrong with his entire party. However his absolute rock bottom support seems to be in the high thirties, which makes me think a more competent, less overtly bigoted Republican could do well enough, given the electoral college, to lose the popular vote and still game the electoral college. Plus the active Republican efforts to suppress the nonwhite vote and the conservative courts’ willingness to back them.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Again, while Trump is built up as the hero of QAnon, who is going to do all their revenge against those who are supposedly “destroying” their white (straight men theocrat) status, he’s really superfluous, since QAnon is a Frankenstein’s monster cobbled from Tea Party and Birther mythologies on the backs of forty years of right wing campaigns. He’s also suffering from further decline of FTL dementia, which is why he makes less and less sense every time he’s talking/slurring, while dragging his leg and having involuntary muscle spasms. McConnell’s written him off, though is still using him for confirming right wing judges to federal courts and other advantages for corporate donors. He’s not running anything; these aren’t his ideas, except when everyone scrambles to pretend some off the cuff babbling from him makes sense. And he has no clear idea what QAnon is except that they salute him and boo people who are critical of him.

    Once Trump is gone one way or another, QAnon is going to go on, continuing to portray the Democratic party as conspirators, same as they’ve done for forty years. It’s already being used, just as the Tea Party was, to build a wedge faction in the Republican party that is currently in-fighting with targets for control, like Liz Cheney. The openly QAnon Congressional candidates, some of whom will win and enter Congress, are the same as the Tea Party — they wear symbols to tell panicked white people they are “one of them” and use that to drive out Republicans who try to pretend to be moderates and to hold up legislature deals with various blackmail demands. It’s the same tactic they’ve used before — create a club (Moral Majority, Contract with America, Tea Party,) get people to support politicians, administrators and media folks as in the club and use that to consolidate power, rip up workers’ rights, deregulate and grift money. They work it on the lower offices like city councilors and school boards right up to Congress, as well as civil service jobs, cops, military, judges and appointees where possible.

    And it works — the club initially sounds looney and dismissed as fringe or overboard, but by getting their people in and effectively controlling legislation and regulation, including factors that control and suppress votes, they do take over control to the point where we got Trump and whatever comes after him. And they get corporate backing and funding and media support. The Tea Party was initially dismissed as kooky white people upset over Obama being elected but they got their people in, so even when all the racist white volunteers of the Tea Party fell apart after Obama got reelected, they still had people in place politically and managed massive tax breaks and other things for the rich.

    It’s not an organized conspiracy; it’s a process (the Overton window et. al.) They see people going for QAnon so they use it, many with competing goals, but the main goal is to keep flogging the idea of a dangerous, sneaky opposition and use that to get in and in control. The New World Order that QAnon adherents whine about has been an in club myth for decades and the main rallying cry since the 1980’s, so QAnon users borrowed it. For a long time, the right wing factions have been courting and absorbing the anti-vaxxers, so it’s all thrown into the melting pot for the pandemic. Trump isn’t getting a bump anymore because they’ve already moved past him — Pompeo, Hogan, Romney, Gaetz, DeVos, etc., all these factions are getting ready and jostling against each other for the next thing. The in club will be called QAnon until that’s no longer useful and then later it will be slightly adjusted and called something else. In a way, this is already happening — the Plandemic school partially shifts the conspiracy theory away from Deep State baby trafficking to Deep State pandemic contagion and economic terrorism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can argue that QAnon is the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, dressed in secret agent garb. Call your opponents the absolute worst thing you can think of in order to dehumanize and degrade them. And then await their demise, hopefully in gruesome and bloody ways.

      The problem is, this time they’ve got somebody in power who just might do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The difference is that the Satanic Panic had at least some flimsy basis for their suspicions, thanks to therapists who thought yelling at children and demanding they admit they’d been abused would produce truthful responses. QAnon doesn’t have anything: no victims, no witnesses, no evidence, nada. There’s a new book on the topic that calls the new batch of conspiracy thinking “conspiracism” to distinguish it from classic political paranoia; where the classic version tried to connect up dots, they now just imagine the dots.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Satanic Panic never went away. It was engineered by the white fundamentalist Christian right — Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority, which was the in club. They’ve used it for decades. That’s one of the main reasons QAnon took off — they just recycled a combo of occult conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Obama Birther conspiracy theories, New World Order anti-globalism conspiracy theories, old Red Scare tapes from the fifties, etc. that were all still on-going. QAnon is a kitchen sink operation since anything can be declared part of it. They really don’t care. Trump officials who were considered part of the avenging angels were then ousted by others and criticize the president, so then they’re declared part of the cabal instead.

        That’s why it’s going to outlast Trump. Trump is just the latest toy. And his kids are just using it to keep factions appeased and as a grift. If Trump gets voted out, they’ll claim it was the Deep State cabal stealing the election and then they’ll pick new heroes who are supposedly leading the charge. What we’re seeing is that a lot of the Trump folks who were deeply in bed with the Russians, like Flynn, are chivvying up to the QAnon crowd, so Russia does intend to keep using it. But it’s morphing and it will continue to morph and eventually form a new in club that recycles the old stuff with a new hook.


    • Wonder what the over/under on him suffering a heart attack right after the election is, no matter the result. It’s not like anyone would be surprised, considering his age, diet, weight, and lifestyle. Obese cholesterol-eating white male septuagenarians have fatal heart attacks and strokes regularly without any outside help.

      (Melania’s probably got her eye on several cushy White House pillows she can shove over his face if Pence is too namby-pamby to do it.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • It seems likely he’s had at least one mini-stroke — when he went to Walter Reed at night and they tried to claim it was part of the next year’s physical. That’s when he started showing more pronounced problems with his right arm and leg, dragging a lot more, balance problems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, nobody as lazy as him — who has doctors on call — goes to a hospital in the middle of the night unless something’s really wrong. Small stroke/TIA was my immediate thought. He wasn’t visible for a couple of days after that, probably not allowed on camera till some of the problems cleared up like they do with TIA’s.

        If it affected his right side, that means it was in the left side of his brain, which is also where the speech centers are.

        I think he even admits he has high blood pressure, and then there’s his years of uppers.

        Guess that deal with Satan has unnaturally prolonged his life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • (I still picture Melania with the gaudiest, tackiest pillow available solving both her personal and the party’s problems all in a couple minutes, late some night.)



    Nothing ever changes. COVID-19 is caused by 5G. The Russian Flu of 1889 was caused by electric lights and telegraphs. Conspiracy theories give people the illusion of understanding. Belief that someone is in control, even if they are malevolent, is somehow more comforting than blind chance reigning. Did Trump have a stroke? Well, maybe, but it sure feels good to believe it, and it explains so much!


    • Speculating on why Trump is slurring more, dragging more, seems more confused, etc etc etc, is not really in the same realm as wild-eyed ravings about a supposed link between covid and 5G though. It’s also not comforting, nor does it give me any sense that the world is in control of any forces, benevolent or malevolent.


  12. Sinclair has now cancelled the segment altogether, though one of their affiliates didn’t get the memo in time and accidentally aired it like good minions. I suspect that a combo of not wanting Dr. Faucci to sue for defamation and bad response from advertisers forced the decision. They also may have been threatened with some forms of less access to officials dealing with the disease if they promoted the propaganda attack.

    But the main point of doing the interview and trying to air it was, as always, to test boundaries and see how much can be gotten away with. This has been a favorite tactic of the anti-choice movement and others and does create gains (the Overton window, etc.) If it doesn’t work, they just backtrack and then come up with a new test and see if, having been softened up that this segment was a normal idea for media to entertain — it wasn’t — but poorly chosen, people will then allow a different segment that is equally a propaganda attack on civil rights and selected targets. Sinclair and the other backers and right wing media don’t care how the covid struggle actually goes or who dies. What they want is to see how far they can push things and control things while it’s going on. That included defaming Dr. Faucci with what if conspiracy theories about him are true approaches. When it wasn’t working, they stopped, but in the meantime, all those lovely griftable right wingers will believe that Sinclair is being silenced from showing the real truth and will push the propaganda of Plandemic even further. So it doesn’t matter that they didn’t show it that much; that they were going to show it was enough for the moment.

    Right now, Trump’s handlers Miller and Barr have Trump declaring that he won’t accept the Supreme Court’s decision about DACA and will defy it. So this is another soft test of how much dictatorship they can push, as are the federal agents (and mercenaries,) being deployed in cities. And Sinclair will back them on it through their local news afiliates, co-opting the networks’ news divisions. That’s a much better area to push right wing conspiracy theories on as it has an easily identifiable enemy that people will buy as an enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Quacks and nutjobs are not just the provenance of the right. News reporting on all sides, especially in national news organizations, has switched away from reporting accurately on things that happened, to having talking heads endlessly pontificating on whatever other talking heads have said. It’s cheaper, because you don’t have to field expensive reporting apparatuses, but it’s harmful because it trades facts for rhetoric. And everyone is lying and omitting to make their side look good.

    Half the headlines I see are “someone says this could lead to that over some period.” You could write this stuff with a random-number generator. “The American Council of Pediatrics says that watching squirrel videos could lead to an increase in diabetes by the end of the century.” “Timothy says that CoNZealand Fringe could lead to the merger of SFWA and WSFS before the next site selection vote.” I feel starved for facts and replete with opinions.

    Before Al Jazeera America folded, I was one of the tiny handful of people who watched them on cable tv. They really seemed to be doing the work. They would report from small-town America, for example, sending reporters there to do interviews. I was sad when they went away, despite the reports of toxic work environments, and I haven’t found a replacement yet.


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