Opinion: Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Mindset Will Outlive Him

This Trump-backed candidate is vying to defeat Liz Cheney in a heated Republican primary for Wyoming's sole congressional seat

  This Trump-backed candidate is vying to defeat Liz Cheney in a heated Republican primary for Wyoming's sole congressional seat Meet Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate challenging Rep. Liz Cheney for Wyoming's only congressional seat."We have serious questions about the 2020 election," Hageman retorted on the debate stage on June 30. She then rehashed misleading theories about Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg funding Democratic turnout and pointed to right-wing commentator Dinesh D'Souza's widely debunked "2000 Mules" movie that promoted voter fraud allegations.

This whole Trump thing can’t end well.

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Which Trump thing? Well, any of it, really.

But what I specifically have in mind is the ongoing federal probe into former President Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of national defense documents after he left office—as well as other proposals to prosecute him in connection to the storming of the Capitol and his various election-meddling efforts.

There are strong cases to be made for pursuing these investigations, but there’s no denying every plausible outcome comes with serious risks and complications. There’s no scenario where we all end up on the same page about Trump. There’s not even a possible future where we all end up in basic agreement on the facts, let alone their interpretation. The conspiracism that helped sweep Trump into power will make sure of that, and it will still be with us long after Trump is gone.

Alan Dershowitz says every reputable attorney he's spoken with has told him their firms 'won't let them go anywhere near' Trump

  Alan Dershowitz says every reputable attorney he's spoken with has told him their firms 'won't let them go anywhere near' Trump Trump will have a hard time building a legal defense team as his legal troubles continue to build, says Alan Dershowitz, who represented Trump."All big firm lawyers have told me that their firms won't let them do it," Dershowitz said in an interview. "The firms won't let them go near any case involving Trump. These are firms that want to continue to have clients, and they know that if they represent Donald Trump, they'll lose a lot of clients.

By “conspiracism” I don’t mean a particular conspiracy theory, like Trump’s claims about the 2020 election or the basis for the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property earlier this month. I mean, in the phrase of political scientists Nancy L. Rosenblum and Russell Muirhead, “conspiracy without the theory.” It’s a mindset, not a discrete idea or claim.

The old model of conspiracy theorizing, Rosenblum and Muirhead explain in their book, A Lot of People Are Saying, “engages in a sort of detective work.” It’s about piecing together details, getting ahold of classified information, having a wall of newspaper clippings, investing in a large roll of red string. But the “new conspiracism,” they argue, “is something different. There is no punctilious demand for proofs, no exhaustive amassing of evidence, no dots revealed to form a pattern, no close examination of the operators plotting in the shadows. The new conspiracism dispenses with the burden of explanation. Instead, we have innuendo and verbal gesture,” stood on a foundation of repetition, animosity, desire, and fear. Villains are cast not because research proves their guilt but because, well, They’re villains. Of course the accusations are true.

A writer who chronicled Donald Trump's rise to fame predicted that the Trump Org will be 'put out of business'

  A writer who chronicled Donald Trump's rise to fame predicted that the Trump Org will be 'put out of business' The prediction comes after Trump's longtime CFO took a plea deal and admitted that the Trump Org dodged payroll taxes for 15 years. "I think a lot of this is going to come to a head in the fall," O'Brien told MSNBC. A biographer who chronicled former President Donald Trump's rise to fame in a 2005 book predicted that the Trump Organization will go out of business shortly. Tim O'Brien, author of Trump Nation, said in a Friday interview with MSNBC that there are various signs of an impending collapse.

The convenient malleability and vagaries of the conspiracist mindset are a major part of why I’m pessimistic about any outcome of these real and suggested cases against Trump. Conspiracism can grow on any informational substrate.

Consider, for example, the question of whether a federal judge should order the government to publish the sealed affidavit that led to the Mar-a-Lago search.

I generally agree with calls for maximal transparency here, beyond normal procedure, because whatever can be done to demonstrate that the investigation is not a corrupt partisan project should be done. “Upholding the rule of law means more than simply affirming that legal processes are followed,” as The Washington Post’s Henry Olsen argued Monday. “It also means ensuring that the laws are applied fairly. That consideration weighs heavily in favor of public disclosure.”

But where conspiracism is concerned, it won’t much matter. Olsen’s anticipation of situations in which conspiracists will be suspicious is, alas, too optimistic.

'Trump will be indicted': Mar-a-Lago affidavit spells trouble for the former president and decimates his main defense

  'Trump will be indicted': Mar-a-Lago affidavit spells trouble for the former president and decimates his main defense The affidavit is damning for Trump and throws a wrench into his claim that he's innocent because "it was all declassified," national security vets said.Significant portions of the document were blacked out to conceal information about witnesses, sources and methods, grand jury details, and the overall size and scope of the department's inquiry.

They can be suspicious whatever the judge decides. If the affidavit isn’t released, conspiracism says the feds are hiding something. If it’s released but redacted, they’re hiding something and trying to convince you they’re not hiding something. And if it’s released in full, it can be dismissed at will: It’s obviously not the real reason for the search because—you guessed it!—they’re hiding something.

Release it, don’t release it, hire skywriters to spell it in the air above Palm Beach. For the conspiracist mind, it’s irrelevant, because conspiracism isn’t really looking for evidence. It runs on habitual, gullible suspicion, and it’s got an infinite supply.

Conspiracism is durable. Some of that strength comes from the communal model social media has allowed it to take. Find a group of like-minded conspiracists (and conspiracism can lean left just as well as right) and you’re among friends—compatriots who take your distrust and worries seriously, even as the government, mainstream media, and perhaps even your own family do not.

That’s a powerful positive reinforcement. So too is the gamification of conspiracism we see with movements like QAnon, where “players” treat reality like gameplay with goals to reach and Easter eggs to discover. Each morning’s headlines launch a new round. That it doesn’t particularly make sense doesn’t matter; what keeps conspiracism going isn’t coherence but flow.

Yet perhaps most important to conspiracism’s durability is that flexibility, the way it can adapt to any turn of events. In fact, I expect the conspiracism Trump benefited from and encouraged will not only outlast the man himself but flourish at his very demise.

After all, however the ex-president goes, conspiracists will just know they’re hiding something.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

When Sean Hannity Made Life Hell for Seth Rich’s Family .
When Fox News revived a conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer, his family came under blistering assault and decided, finally, to fight back.The source for Hannity’s claims was Fox’s own newsroom. According to a story published earlier that day by a Fox News journalist named Malia Zimmerman, an unnamed federal investigator who had reviewed an “FBI forensic report” about Rich’s computer claimed he was the source for the leaked DNC emails, not Russian-backed hackers, as the U.S. intelligence community and cybersecurity experts had concluded.

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