Conspiracy Theories
Lauren Boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert is getting the kind of attention that even she presumably doesn’t like. Last week she was kicked out of a Colorado theater for vaping, recording the show, and other disruptive behavior. After Boebert denied vaping, the theater released security footage showing her doing just that—and more. She and her date were fondling each other in ways that had to be uncomfortable for their neighbors.

To her credit, Boebert has apologized for her behavior. However, not content with the explanation that Boebert is who she has always appeared to be, some on the right have turned the incident into a conspiracy theory: Boebert was set up.

The New York Post emphasized that her date was a Democrat who owns a bar that’s hosted at least one drag show, and many took this as evidence of Boebert’s hypocrisy, while others used it to bolster the notion that she was set up. The latter claim is showing up all over social media, led by so-called journalist and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin. “It turns out Lauren Boebert's mystery man is a Democrat bar owner,” Crokin tweeted. “If I was a wagering enthusiast, I would bet this guy was paid to set her up.”

Crokin laid out an elaborate scenario: “She’s coming off a divorce, and she’s vulnerable. This guy comes into her life, charms her, seduces her and then probably gets her liquored up and takes her out in public. Stage set.” Honestly, Boebert probably is vulnerable as she divorces her longtime husband, and she gets to be privately messy over that if she wants to. But this was public misbehavior that impacted other people and ended, according to reports, with her repeatedly busting out the classic, “Do you know who I am?” That’s a statement of entitlement: I get to disrupt other people’s theater experience because I’m important.

Next, Crokin moves to the conspiracy that the stage was supposedly set for: “He then instigates her by fondling her in a theater that just happens to have night vision cameras right on them. Then the whole incident is released to the public in what looks like high-definition video in an attempt to harm her reputation.” Of course, Boebert did not need to be persuaded into bad behavior. Even if you didn’t know who she was, she would stand out in the theater’s security video as the person vaping, waving her arms above her head, and taking flash photos. No one else visible in the video, which shows many rows in the theater, appeared to be behaving that way. (While the video is impressive for night vision, high-definition it is not.) Additionally, Boebert being kicked out of the theater and asking, “Do you know who I am?” had gotten plenty of attention before the video emerged. The vaping and taking pictures and disruptive behavior had already been publicly reported based on what the people around her in the theater were saying.

Crokin concluded: “This is all way too convenient. Whether her date was a part of it or not, this seems like a well-coordinated setup. These types of tactics and traps are used all the time, and I would know.” A well-coordinated setup? It kind of seems like there just happened to be a camera on Boebert being Boebert. If she had sat through the show without vaping and taking photographs and groping, they could have released video showing her in actual high definition through the entire show and it wouldn’t have made a splash. And you’d think a conspiracy theorist like Crokin would be aware of how often we are under surveillance in this day and age.

Boebert herself doesn’t seem to be embracing the conspiracy theory. Though she joked ruefully to TMZ that “I learned to check party affiliation before you go on a date,” she had nothing but positive words about the man in question, calling him “a wonderful man” and a “great man, great friend” although they’ve “peacefully parted.”But Crokin’s “Boebert was set up” theory went viral, with a stream of responses showing how eager some people are to believe the elaborate conspiracy over the idea that a woman with a history of minor arrests who spent the 2022 State of the Union yelling and heckling the president might not be the best-behaved person in a theater, either.

Boebert’s unruliness, her disrespect in political settings, is what her fans like about her. No one should be surprised that it’s not all a political calculation and that she really is that way.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson, who is scrounging for attention in an increasingly fractured and competitive right-wing media ecosystem while seeking funders for his new media venture, revived a convicted con man’s ridiculous allegation that he had crack-fueled gay sex with a young Barack Obama in a podcast interview. Carlson also revealed that he plans to interview the man for his show on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“In 2008, it became really clear that Barack Obama had been having sex with men and smoking crack,” Carlson told host Adam Carolla. He cited the story of Larry Sinclair, who alleged during the 2008 presidential campaign that he “personally engaged in sexual activity and personally used illegal drugs in November 1999” with Obama in the back of Sinclair’s limousine and at a Chicago hotel. (Sinclair further alleged that Obama had been having a gay affair with the choir director at his church, who was subsequently murdered “to keep the media from believing the claims” Sinclair made.)

“A guy came forward, Larry Sinclair, and said, I'll sign an affidavit. And he did. I'll take a lie detector. And he did. ‘I smoked crack with Barack Obama and had sex with him,’” Carlson explained.

Carlson said Sinclair’s claims were “obviously true” but “nobody reported it … because the Obama campaign said anyone who reports on this gets no access to the Obama campaign.”

Sinclair’s story did receive little attention at the time from credible news outlets, even as it was widely covered on WorldNetDaily, a conspiracy theory website famous for promoting the lies that Obama was not born in the United States and is a Muslim. But while Carlson portrays this as a conspiracy in which journalists passed on Sinclair’s story to preserve access to the Obama campaign, Ben Smith noted in a 2008 article on the saga for Politico that the “story has generally been ignored by the mainstream media, because he’s been unable to substantiate his allegations.”

Carlson said he found Sinclair’s story compelling because he passed a lie detector test and signed an affidavit. But as Smith and even WorldNetDailyreported, Sinclair actually failed his polygraph (he later alleged Obama adviser David Axelrod had paid $750,000 to rig the polygraph). As Smith pointed out, Sinclair also claimed to be “terminally ill” in another affidavit he signed in 2004 (he is apparently still alive nearly 20 years later).

Asked by Carolla if he actually believed Sinclair’s story, Carlson replied, “That definitely happened. Oh, for sure. I mean, I've talked to Larry Sinclair about it and — oh, definitely it happened.” He went on to say that “40 years ago,” Sinclair had been “in and out of prison,” so “he’s got a criminal record by definition” and a “record of deception.”

“But this story, if you listen to it in detail, is clearly true,” he said, adding, “I'm going to do an interview with him and you can hear it.”

In fact, while Carlson suggested Sinclair’s criminal record occurred decades before his claims about Obama, Smith reported that “public records and court filings reveal that he has a 27-year criminal record, with a specialty in crimes involving deceit,” including “forgery charges in two states, one of which drew Sinclair a 16-year jail sentence.” At the time Sinclair made his allegations, there was “an outstanding warrant for Sinclair’s arrest for forging an acquaintance’s signature and stealing her tax refunds” in 2001, and he had been “arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in South Carolina” the previous year.

Elsewhere in the interview, Carlson told Carolla that Democrats plan to win the 2024 election by assassinating Donald Trump and initiating a “hot war” with Russia.

The former Fox host has been living his best life since the right-wing network dropped him from his prime-time post in April — moderating a GOP presidential forum, hobnobbing with Eastern European autocrats, and standing up for Vladimir Putin.

He’s also founded a new company that will be “anchored by longer versions of the free videos that Carlson has been posting regularly on Twitter” and is seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars” from right-wing billionaires like Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer. Unfortunately for Carlson, he’s just Alex Jones in suit-and-tie without Fox’s support, his viewership has been low, and he’s largely fallen out of the day-to-day conversation.

The Carolla interview provides insight into the niche Carlson’s new company will occupy — his investors will be funding WorldNetDaily 2.0, an outlet that dives deep into the right-wing internet fever swamps and credulously repeats absurdities as unvarnished truth.

Of course, Carlson is a notorious liar exposed by the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit for his willingness to tell his viewers the opposite of what he says privately, so we’ll never know whether he actually believes anything he publishes.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.