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Tales from the Dark Side

With the upcoming Star Wars movie, let's take a look at the dark side of the media -- those sites that spew the twisted conspiracy theories that seem to be the basis for Donald Trump’s many distorted policy moves.

From his favorite source, Fox News, to the ultra-right Q Anon, there is no shortage of conspiracy theories that this administration will attempt to use to justify its actions. This gives them a seemingly endless array of “alternative facts” to spin their illegal actions.

From Birtherism to the Bidens, Trump’s political career is replete with conspiracy theories spread by right wing media. When he was a private citizen, Trump was roasted by President Obama and others for spreading conspiracy theories at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Many believe this was the impetus for his seeking the presidency. If so, the ribbing he took got under his thin skin, and we are regrettably feeling the backlash.

So who, or what, are the many sources in the world of “alternative facts”?

Breitbart is a right-wing website founded in 2007 by Andrew Breitbar and is aligned with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. During the Trump campaign, it was run by Trump ally Steve Bannon. Under Bannon’s tenure, Breitbart became the platform for the alt-right, spreading conspiracy theories with its extreme views and faulty information.

Trump embraced Brietbart and Steve Bannon, making Bannon a trusted advisor in the White House; however when Bannon asserted that Trump wasn’t going far enough in his anti-immigrant policies, he was forced out, both from the White House and Breitbart.

Today, Breitbart continues to spread conspiracy theories and misinformation as a voice of the alt-right, while supporting anti-immigrant, racist policies with White House strategist Stephen Miller as their “inside man”.

Founded by Matt Drudge, the Drudge Report is a far right website that specializes in misinformation and conspiracy theories. Trump embraced them during the 2016 campaign when they consistently declared that he won every debate, including those against Hillary Clinton. They were major proponents in spreading the debunked “birtherism” conspiracy theory about President Obama along with numerous other falsehoods.

The Drudge Report regularly runs columns by right wing media darlings Ann Colter, Rush Limbaugh and the recently convicted Roger Stone, who spread their own conspiracy theories and misinformation to support Trump in his efforts.

The brainchild of alt-right proponent, Alex Jones, InfoWars has been the launching point for several conspiracy theories, including the debunked claim that Donald Trump actually won the popular vote, but was the victim of widespread voter fraud. Based in Texas, this effort began at a single radio station in 1996 and his three-hour rants are now carried by over 160 radio stations, as well as being streamed over the internet and available through web videos .

Jones was forced to retract his claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax , blaming it on a “psychosis. He was forced to admit that his red-faced rants, which have been imitated during the impeachment hearings by Doug Collins (R-Ga) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), are an act and that he is a “performance artist”.

Despite these denials, InfoWars continues to have loyal followers who spread his conspiracy theories such as the 9/11 attacksbeing an “inside job” and that the federal government carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Consisting of nothing but conspiracy theories, Q Anon is a radical right-wing group that alleges, without a shred of evidence, that a vast “deep state” conspiracy is aimed at destroying our government.

Pizzagate, which claimed Hillary Clinton and her associates ran a pedophile ring in the basement of a New Jersey pizza shop, is one of many baseless accusations leveled by this organization, which is seeing its influence grow as more followers take up the “deep state” mantra to defend Trump during the impeachment hearings.

After Rupert Murdoch failed in his bid to buy CNN, he launched Fox News in 1996 and hired Roger Ailes as its CEO. Ailes sought to counter the liberal narrative at MSNBC, where he was once employed, and create a network that presented a “conservative alternative” while using the recently dropped slogan “Fair and Balanced”.

With Trump’s meteoric rise, Fox became THE news source for “all things Trump”. Trump’s association with the network is so entwined that he often refers to them as “we” when discussing their reporting. Indeed, Fox has become a revolving door for the Trump administration, with former Fox employees being hired by the White House and former White House employees being hired by Fox.

Trump makes no secret of his incestuous relationship with Fox, making it essentially his personal propaganda network by giving them exclusive interviews, being a regular caller into their “Fox and Friends” morning show where he often rants for so long the anchors cannot get a word in edgewise.

Trump has regularly spoken to Fox commentators Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, while inviting Jeanine Pirro to the White House, allegedly for a job interview. These commentators, along with others, have been known to not only spread Trump propaganda, but also be the impetus for administration policies.

With a greater segment of the population following these organizations, we run the risk of falling off the edge of reality into chaos. Our Democracy is at risk because too many are siding with ratings over facts when it comes to defending this administration.

Can we survive?

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