“Now it’s conspiracy — they’ve made that something that should not even be entertained for a minute, that powerful people might get together and have a plan. Doesn’t happen. You’re a kook! You’re a conspiracy buff!” — George Carlin
“I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true or involve dentists.” — Michael Moore
It’s not so much shooting the messenger as it is making everyone think the messenger is crazy and his or her message is automatically false. And crazy. And dangerous.
That’s the apparent goal of hundreds of mainstream articles, produced year after year, that denounce “conspiracy theories” and go to extreme lengths to discredit anyone who dares challenge the official narrative of any event. Points of view that venture outside of permissible boundaries are dismissed as the products of unbalanced minds.
Challenges are written off as being “bizarre,” “outlandish,” “pernicious,” or any one of a host of other exaggerated descriptors that reveal extreme bias. We’re told that the theories in question are false and that they were debunked years ago, as if making the claim is enough — no evidence required. What is offered as evidence usually comes in the form of quotes from some academic or other who is said to be an “expert” in the “psychology of conspiracy theories.”
The bylines on these propaganda pieces may change but the message doesn’t, as variations on the same article are endlessly regurgitated in a large number of publications. The “journalists” who create them appear to be working from a common template. And by this I don’t just mean they share a point of view; I mean they use the same dishonest points and tone.
The articles are too numerous, too similar, and too cartoonishly one-sided not to be intentional propaganda.
The stakes appear to be getting higher with each passing year. Where “conspiracy theorists” were once simply dismissed with condescending mockery, they are now being called “dangerous.” The alleged threats posed by their thoughts and words must now be combatted and stamped out to protect our “security.”
In the first part of this two-part analysis, I’ll enumerate the tactics that are so routinely used in this kind of media propaganda. In part two, to be published later, I’ll look closely at several examples of these tactics, including media coverage of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that targeted Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. We will see how the rhetoric has remained remarkably consistent while becoming more hostile over time.