If their extreme views are so dangerous, maybe not highlighting them is the way to go…?
It’s not through a complex web of clandestine meeting rooms, not video channels on proprietary web sites, nor policies passed on the sly by politicians with a hidden agenda. No, the best way for fringe conspiracy groups to get their message out and have it amplified to the general public is through the mainstream media news outlets. It remains the paradox of the press that those most loudly opposed to these dangerous sources continue to broadcast their message.
Qanon and others are routinely demonized by wise and sophisticated journalists and yet, the primary method for hearing these disturbing messages and theories remains to be tuning in to CNN. This week, with some possibly more important issues unfolding across the news landscape, we were presented with more of these allegedly dangerous missives.
We have seen over the years that the white supremacist movement, though insidious and ignorant, has also been extremely overinflated as far as its scope and level of influence. There have been a number of times that a rally was held by these adherents of intolerance, only to see the media on-site to cover the event was greater than those in attendance. So, it is with instilled curiosity why Vice News felt the need to do full coverage of these racist dolts this week.
One example they give had this delivery from “the far right,” lending a bit of praise to the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban forces. “These farmers and minimally trained men fought to take their nation back from [world governments]. They took back their national religion as law, and executed dissenters. Hard not to respect that.” Now, look how far down the white supremacist rabbit hole they had to be embedded in order to find this nugget; the message was posted from a rando’s account that is said to be linked to a former Proud Boys network, on Telegram.
It is up for debate just how many layers removed from the mainstream consciousness this particular message had been, but thanks to Vice it is now elevated to a broader public square. The same piece highlights a message in praise of the fall of coalition forces in that country. It came from, “A blog linked to members of neo-Nazi terrorist organizations.”
Days later, Vice was at it again, this time focused on the ravings of “some Qanon followers.” The unimpeachable sources were saying that the whole Afghanistan debacle is one elaborate hoax — copious amounts of evidence be damned. This latest theory is delivered, we are told, by “explod[ing] on QAnon channels on platforms like Telegram and Gab after it was boosted by Ron Watkins, the former administrator of 8kun, the website that facilitated the rise of QAnon.”
Writer David Gilbert described what he called a series of baseless conspiracy theories, but they were not so baseless that he avoided delivering them to readers. No, instead he listed many of those very theories in detail, with screencaps of some examples.
But, as I referred to earlier, the best may be from CNN, where their resident internet reporter, Donie O’Sullivan, has become their defacto Qanon/conspiracy correspondent.
O’Sullivan was at the Iowa State Fair this week and while reporting on many arcane factoids (Donie ate his first corndog!), he also found some adherents of Qanon and other theories in the crowd that gathered to hear Marjorie Taylor Greene speak at the festival. The CNN reporter got one obsessive — straight out of Central Casting — to blather about how this could inspire those here in The States to undertake a similar purge.
This is O’Sullivan’s stock in trade, probing crowds at targeted events and finding those willing to go on camera with their crackpot theories. It then gets presented as if this is the prevailing thought at the event. Donie, after wiping away the grease from his deep-fried frank on a stick, stretches to suggest that praising governmental overthrow is a regular conservative talking point — but he then lets slip just how rarified this mindset actually is in the mix.
This is the second time in just a few months I’ve met Americans who look to foreign government overthrows as almost an inspiration.
Few months ago it was Myanmar. https://t.co/1n7v96dbRJ
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) August 20, 2021
That…is not exactly impressive. These extremist thoughts are so pervasive that O’Sullivan managed to find, uh, two whole examples of this happening — over the course of a few months. That is hardly a surge of zealotry that will turn a profit on all the beer koozies you sell at your CafePress “Q The Rebellion” account.
The media remains committed to covering these conspiracies because it is their shorthand attempt to cast all those on the right as dangerous crackpots who adhere to dangerous narratives. Of course — given the reality of most conservative media giving little to zero notice of these themes — this means that the primary source to hear these conspiracies remains the mainstream press.