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The crazier a conspiracy theory is, the more likely Trump is to embrace it: reporter

President Donald J. Trump walks from the White House Monday evening, June 1, 2020, to St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of Presidents’s, that was damaged by fire during demonstrations in nearby LaFayette Square Sunday evening. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump will be remembered for, among many other things, being the first U.S. president to exalt far-right conspiracy theorist/radio host Alex Jones and Infowars as credible sources of information while slamming the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN as “fake news.” Trump loves conspiracy theories, and journalist Sasha Abramsky — in an article published by The Nation on June 12 — stresses that the more outlandish a conspiracy theory is, the more likely Trump is to promote it.


A recent example was Trump’s tweet asserting that activist Martin Gugino, who was violently slammed to the ground by Buffalo police at a recent “Justice for George Floyd” protest, “could be an Antifa provocateur.”

“This week, as the pandemic continued its devastating course and the country remained convulsed with protests, the most powerful man on Earth turned his attention to smearing Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old who was seriously injured by police in Buffalo, NY,” Abramsky writes. “In true Joe McCarthy form, Trump accused the Catholic Worker peace activist of being an Antifa agent provocateur. He alleged that Gugino was illicitly monitoring police communications, and that when police pushed Gugino to the ground — where he smashed his head against the pavement — Gugino was acting, worsening his own fall just to discredit Buffalo’s finest.”

Trump’s source of information on Gugino was the right-wing cable news outlet One America News, which prides itself being even more pro-Trump and more right-wing than Fox News.

Another ridiculous conspiracy theory Trump has recently promoted, Abramsky notes, is the claim that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough “murdered a young woman who was working for him in 2001.” Sadly, that employee, Lori Klausutis, suffered from a heart condition and died after falling and hitting her head. An autopsy showed zero evidence of foul play, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from falsely accusing Scarborough — a former GOP congressman and one of the president’s most vehement critics on the right — of killing her.

Abramsky points out that Trump is so conspiracy-minded that his campaign even sent an “Orwellian cease-and-desist letter” to CNN in response to a poll that showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 14%. Trump’s campaign demanded a retraction and an apology, and CNN rightly refused.

Whether his target is Gugino, Scarborough or CNN, Abramsky laments, Trump’s enablers only encourage him.

“Trump is using his bully pulpit to character-assassinate private citizens,” Abramsky asserts. “He is spewing forth one lie after another on Twitter, then his White House team is doubling down and amplifying his falsehoods. At a moment as perilous as any in America’s post–Civil War history, Trump’s disdain — both for the truth and for a politics of reconciliation that could lower the tension — threatens to obliterate what little remaining trust there is in the country’s governing institutions.”

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