I have been watching the Seth Rich conspiracy lie grow for awhile but last night it became the number one trending topic on Twitter and I knew I had to say something about it here after interacting with some of the true believers there.
A little background, if you haven’t been following this: Seth Rich was a Democrat National Committee (DNC) staff member working on increasing voter registration, and, from the looks of it, a pretty fun and happy fellow. In July of 2016 he was sadly murdered near his home in what DC Police believe to be a robbery gone bad. Even more tragic is the way his life has been exploited, first by fringe fake news outlets and finally by the mainstream of the populist right infotainment industry, Fox News. The details vary but the basic story is that Rich sent tens of thousands of emails to Wikileaks – that he was a whistleblower, exposing the Clinton Campaign – and the Russian hacking of the DNC may not have even taken place at all. Just to be clear, this is all a pack of lies, but those who have emotionally invested themselves in it go on to believe that former President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton ordered Rich’s murder to stop him from leaking anything else or talking to the press or something. Then the Clintons got the DC Police to cover it up and now they are getting the Mainstream Media (the “liberal MSM”) to further cover it up. Last week, a P.I. with questionable motives, hired by the Rich family, betrayed their trust and told Fox lies about his investigation that he later retracted, but not before the Alt-Right and their fellow travelers spread the word that this non-existent “evidence” was real; a “fact” that countless people continue to believe and repeat in the echo chambers they inhabit.
Yesterday, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, Rich’s brother wrote a letter to the executive producer of Sean Hannity’s popular Fox show, begging him to find some, “decency and kindness,” and stop this madness. Fox finally gave into reality and pulled this phony story but Hannity, the biggest proponent of the lie on their station, insisted on going forward and claiming that new information (aka, new lies) from (a highly disreputable source) Kim Dotcom, was more believable than any of the actual authorities or journalists who have looked into this matter. Then, presumably under the threat of losing his job, Hannity backed down, for now, and said he would not discuss the story further at this time; only increasing the belief of the conspiracy faithful that the cover up had stuck again.
This reminds me of a laughably fake “investigation” pushed by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife into the suicide of former Clinton friend and Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster in the 1990s, which fake news peddlers at the time claimed to be another Bill & Hillary murder. Of course, there wasn’t social media back then to spread the gas necessary and turn that spark of nonsense into a flame of widespread mayhem, the way there is now. And back then, establishment, sensible conservatives all ran from such noxious fumes. Sadly, we now have men like former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joining in on the conspiracy lies, while our Conspiracy Theorists in Chief Birther Bigot Donald Trump spreads more lies of his own, creating a new and disturbing norm of behavior and a mindset that dulls people into believing they can never really know anything.
What is happening to America is so sickening that I can’t even find the right words to discribe it. What I can say is that the cause of truth did score a minor victory yesterday, when Fox chose to kind of do the right thing (they still have not apologised and they have left the door open to pull out this lie again in the future). Overall, however, the situation seems to only be getting worse. Those who love to live off wild stories and outright lies are eating them up and spitting them back out to all their online friends and followers while most people just want to get on with their lives and ignore the crumbling foundations of our republic that this dangerous behavior is causing.
Lest you think that I am only attacking those “evil” “right-wingers” let me also add that this problem is universal; the worst of the right just happens to be on display at the moment. I remember back in the Bush Administration, when Michael Moore’s anti-factual film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), became the highest grossing “documentary” of all time and he was invited by Former President Carter to sit and watch the Democrat Convention at year as an honored guest. I remember the talk of Bush ordering 9-11 as a justification to steal Middle Eastern oil and a lot of other ridiculous chatter that, once again, didn’t have the social media platform we have today to grow as fast or as strong as today’s lies. The problem is not inherently right or left; it is present in anyone who abandons reality for conspiracism.
I have no idea how we do it, but we’ve got to change the conversation and the camps involved. The “right” can’t continue to keep its lunatic extremists under one big tent anymore than the “left” can pretend that their wingnuts are healthy, contributing members of the family. Sensible people must prevail and stand up against this insanity or our ship of state is sunk. We most all stand up to the next Seth Rich-style lie, whether it come from “our side” or “their side” and forcefully say we will not be a party to this!
Here is a great piece from VOX that gives a more comprehensive view of the Seth Rich nonsense and how it is an object lesson in fake news and the conspiracist mindset.