Former President Donald Trump has a long history of promoting far-right conspiracy theories. During the Barack Obama years, he promoted the racist and totally baseless claim that then-President Obama was really born in Kenya — and after being sworn in as president in January 2017, he had no problem with Alex Jones’ Infowars being granted White House press credentials. Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be voted out of office only to spend month after month falsely claiming that the election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud — a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.
But journalist Stuart A. Thompson, in an article published by the New York Times on September 2, warns that Trump’s fondness for outlandish conspiracy theories has grown even worse than it was when he was president.
“Mr. Trump has spent more than a decade on social media attacking enemies, cozying up to far-right ideas and sharing false information,” Thompson explains. “He used Twitter to perpetuate the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and later deemed one investigation after another partisan witch hunts. But, as his legal exposure intensifies over his handling of government documents, the former president this week crossed over to a more direct embrace of claims batted around the dark corners on the internet. His winks and nods to the far right became enthusiastic endorsements, and his flirtations with convoluted conspiratorial ideas became more overt.”
Thompson continues, “He shared a flurry of 61 posts written by Truth Social users, many of whom had ties to QAnon, an online conspiracy movement aligned with the former president. One post included ‘the storm,’ which QAnon followers use to describe the day when the movement’s enemies will be violently punished. The strategy partly mirrors Mr. Trump’s chaotic approach during moments of crisis, searching for a message to ignite supporters while shifting attention away from his controversies. But the posts this week appeared especially haphazard, opening a door to the former president’s thought process even as his legal team tries to craft a cogent defense against the Justice Department’s investigation.”
Trump was banned from Twitter following the January 6, 2021 insurrection, and Facebook has banned him as well. But launching his own Social Media platform, Social Media, has made it easy for Trump to promote conspiracy theories online as much as he wants, according to Thompson.
“Now, unshackled from mainstream rules and decorum, Mr. Trump speaks to a much smaller base of supporters — fewer than four million followers — using fiery rhetoric and echoing the conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, that remain popular on the platform,” Thompson observes. “The posts have alarmed disinformation experts, who fear that Mr. Trump’s incendiary remarks could further inflame political tensions. After the Mar-a-Lago search, an armed man tried to enter an FBI office and was killed by the police.”
Trump’s recent Truth Social posts, according to Thompson, “suggest that he is increasingly attuned to voices in far-right and fringe publications that are even friendlier to his cause” than Fox News.
“Some posts included content commonly found in the dark back channels of the internet, where QAnon conspiracy theorists cling to outlandish ideas about Satan-worshiping Democratic pedophiles and a nationwide cover-up of widespread voter fraud,” Thompson observes. “Mr. Trump shared content this week from at least 24 accounts tied to QAnon, according to an analysis by Alex Kaplan, a senior researcher at Media Matters for America, a progressive think tank.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
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