Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sets the agenda for the establishment media, and if you want evidence, just look at how the media is suddenly playing up the phrase “conspiracy theory.”
The “conspiracy” theme popping up at her out-sourced p.r. group, Media Matters, and at CNN, The New York Times, and MSNBC, especially since the Donald Trump hired former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, as campaign CEO.
The “conspiracy theory” theme is being used to try to stigmatize dangerous questions about Hillary Clinton’s health, or about the proven connection of her top aide, Huma Abedin, to Saudi Arabia’a terrorism-linked Muslim World League.
As Breitbart News reported, Clinton’s campaign manager Robbie Mook seemed to have a sudden case of conspiracy theory Tourette’s syndrome as he kept saying it over and over again throughout an MSNBC appearance the Wednesday. That appearance was just after the announcement that Bannon was taking over the Trump campaign leadership.
Watch the video and you’ll feel embarrassed because it’s not subtle.
Mook’s spasmodic performance followed a press conference earlier that day in which he also used the “conspiracy theory” meme over and over.
On August 18th, Media Matters used the headline:
Bannon Is Obsessed With Conspiracy Theories Connecting The Muslim Brotherhood To Democrats
Also on Media Matters on August 18th:
On August 14, CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter criticized Hannity’s “reckless” “conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health designed to help Donald Trump.
Same day, August 18th, Media Matters wrote:
Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News regularly used anti-LGBT slurs, peddled anti-gay conspiracy theories, and featured articles by anti-LGBT hate group leaders.
Media Matters also wrote on—guess—August 18th.
Trump, who often parrots conspiracy theorist Alex Jones quasi verbatim, is no stranger to conspiracy theories, but by joining the campaign in an official capacity, Bannon might elevate the absurd conspiracy theories that are Breitbart News’ bread and butter to official campaign positions. Some of the conspiracy theories that can be found on Breitbart.com include baseless speculations about Hillary Clinton’s health, “birther” attacks against President Obama, and fear mongering that election machines could rig the upcoming presidential elections.
Shockingly, on August 18 Media Matters ran the headline:
Even Newt Gingrich Isn’t Buying Right-Wing Media’s Clinton Health Conspiracy Theory
Another Media Matters headline from August 18:
Fox & Friends Pushes Conspiracy That Hillary Clinton’s Glasses Are “A Sign Of Brain Damage And Other Things”
This all came the day after Media Matters wrote on August 17:
There’s also an absolutely nutballs video produced by Alex Jones’ InfoWars, a conspiracy theory website… then sure enough, this same conspiracy theory makes its way to the Fox News Channel… now that the head of a really, really, really conspiratorial right-wing website is actually running the Donald Trump campaign, I think we should expect it to get more like that.
More from Media Matters on August 17:
She has faced every sort of serious, semi-serious and nonsensical conspiracy theory that the right-wing media has been able to cook up. The difference now is, they are veering so far to the right with the people who really do deal from the bottom of the deck. That’s going to reflect, in the end, worse on Republicans than it is going to on her, I think.
Media Matters also published a story on the 17th with “ conspiracy theory” in the headline that said:
Breitbart has pushed conspiracy theories about Clinton and has taken an outsized role bolstering Trump’s campaign, often taking on Trump’s battles.
And Media Matters used variations of the phrase “conspiracy theory” eight times in an article from August 17.
More from August 17th, as Media Matters attempts to declare facts and statistics as conspiracy theories:
The SPLC also detailed how Breitbart has promoted the “popular racist conspiracy theory” that “African-Americans are committing crimes against whites at alarming rates,” and “In the past, Ruse used his perch at Breitbart to peddle conspiracy theories about the hate-crime murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard.”
More from MMFA from the 17th:
That’s the kind of conspiracy theory that starts in what I would call the fever swamps of the right-wing.
Hillary Clinton’s lapdog media wasted no time in picking up on the clue from Media Matters. Let’s start with MSNBC.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is hot on the trail of conspiracy theories.
Clinton takes lesson from GOP’s Kerry smears: Rachel Maddow reports on the Hillary Clinton campaign rebutting a bizarre and baseless conspiracy theory dragged from the fringe right by Donald Trump and Fox News, perhaps because of how normalized conspiracy theories from the right were seen to damage John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
Clinton camp takes on Trump conspiracy theory smears: Robby Mook, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, talks with Rachel Maddow about the decision to take on the Donald Trump campaign’s spreading of bizarre conspiracy theories, and how they’ll handle other Trump low-road tactics.
MSNBC touted an appearance by Media Matters for America’s Eric Boehlert:
The latest Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory: While swatting away the latest right-wing conspiracy theory, Hillary Clinton’s campaign reacts to the Trump campaign shake-up. Joy Reid talks with Betsy Woodruff and Eric Boehlert.
Hillary’s Health? MSNBC says that it’s a…you can guess.
Right-wing media stokes weird, fake Clinton conspiracy theory: Rachel Maddow reports on a bizarre conspiracy theory developed in right-wing media that Hillary Clinton suffers from a variety of ailments, and notes the effort by Fox News and the Drudge Report to push the story into mainstream awareness.
Huma Abedin? MSNBC says:
Middle East takes note of Trump’s conspiracy theories… protesters had apparently heard conspiracy theories from American extremists… the Republican presidential hopeful shares one of his many conspiracy theories… the American mainstream may know not to take conspiracy theories from the likes of Bachmann, Gohmert, and Trump seriously… many who are inclined to believe absurd conspiracy theories don’t really need proof.”
MSNBC’s parent company NBC also reported:
Clinton Responds to ‘Deranged Conspiracy Theories’ About Her Health: Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing back against growing claims about her health, including Donald Trump questioning her “mental and physical stamina” to be president.
NBC also reported on how many times “conspiracy theory” was said:
On a conference call with reporters about Bannon’s hire, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook used the term “conspiracy theory” more than dozen times and said the hire was a sign Trump would double down on his worst instincts.
Early in the 2016 race, Trump raised the specter of former White House counsel Vince Foster, whose apparent suicide in 1993 (which the Republican called “very fishy”) has long been linked to the Clintons by right wing conspiracy theorists, despite multiple investigations which cleared their name.
NBC had to add “paper thin” to this story about Hillary Clinton’ alleged health.
..as Trump jabs at Clinton’s “stamina” this week, Breitbart is churning out articles pushing paper-thin conspiracy theories about the Democratic nominee’s health.
Of course, CNN couldn’t help getting into the conspiracy theory act. On August 18, taking a cue from Media Matters, CNN said:
Trump’s restructuring of his campaign ushered in leaders who are practiced in the dark arts of politics, unafraid to dabble in right-wing conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health, her marriage, and allegations that Bill Clinton has mistreated women.
Bill Clinton’s “alleged treatment of women?” It’s a conspiracy! says CNN:
The website, which Bannon has been closely involved with since its launch in 2007, has also been a center for conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health as well as stories about Bill Clinton’s alleged treatment of women.
CNN-Money must have cut and pasted that last article:
Breitbart has also touted conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health and published dozens of stories about Bill Clinton’s alleged treatment of women, with headlines like “The Secret Sex Abuse Victims of Bill Clinton.”
Making no apologies for its conservative, populist worldview, it promotes anti-establishment Republicans, attacks liberal and establishment opponents and often traffics in conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats — as well as some Republicans it views as the enemy.
On Wednesday, August 17th, the New York Times stated without providing an example:
Breitbart has also actively promoted false conspiracy theories about Clinton, some that have then made their way into Trump’s remarks.
Variations of the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ are used seven times in this New York Times article.
Days earlier— August 13th— New York Times got in early on the conspiracy theory game:
Two months later, that innocuous exchange has become the fodder for one of some Trump supporters’ most popular conspiracy theories: her failing health.
Of course, Mother Jones could not be left out:
Trump Campaign’s New CEO Peddled Conspiracy Theories About Clinton Team: Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News whom Donald Trump has appointed as his new campaign CEO, hasn’t been shy about trading in on the deepest fringes of conspiracy theories against Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff… Abedin has long been at the center of discredited, racist conspiracy theories thanks to her Muslim heritage…
There are actually more examples, but by this time you get the idea. This is the left-wing echo chamber in action, simply trying to discredit ideas that they can’t admit or refute.
Before you get any ideas about starting a “conspiracy theory” drinking game, being warned: you’ll die.