Speaking of Debunked Conspiracy Theories…

This comes from the Star Tribune, but it is just reprinting a Washington Post story: “Florida family grieves as Trump spreads debunked conspiracy theory to attack MSNBC host.” It is written in the anti-Trump style to which we have become accustomed:

A little after 8 a.m. on July 20, 2001, a couple arriving for an appointment opened an unlocked front door at an office in the Florida panhandle town of Fort Walton Beach and discovered a woman lying on the floor, dead. Her name was Lori Kaye Klausutis and she was just 28.

The police said they found no signs of foul play. The medical examiner concluded her lonely death was an accident. She had fainted, the result of a heart condition, and hit her head on a desk, he said.

Now, nearly 20 years later, Klausutis’s death has captured the attention of the country’s most prominent purveyor of conspiracy theories — the president of the United States — who has without evidence speculated that she might have been murdered and that the case should be reopened.

The reason for President Donald Trump’s fixation: At the time of her death, Klausutis was working for a Republican congressman from Pensacola named Joe Scarborough — the same Scarborough who today, as host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” is a fierce critic of Trump and has in recent weeks decried the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as a failure.

“A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough,” Trump tweeted Sunday, the latest in a string of recent tweets on the matter in which the president has unleashed a torrent of false allegations, mischaracterizations and baseless rumors.

This is an example of the kind of dumb thing I wish President Trump wouldn’t do. I assume there is no reason to think that Joe Scarborough had anything to do with Ms. Klausutis’s death. But isn’t there a larger point here? What has Joe Scarborough done for the last 3 1/2 years but spread “debunked conspiracy theories” about Donald Trump–most notably, but by no means limited to, the Russia hoax–“speculated without evidence” about the Russia hoax, the Ukraine kerfuffle and other matters, and “unleashed a torrent of false allegations, mischaracterizations and baseless rumors” about the president? That sounds like Scarborough’s job description at MSNBC.

And what about the Washington Post? Despite its high and mighty tone in describing the president’s “spread[ing a] debunked conspiracy theory,” hasn’t that been the Post’s own stock in trade for years, when it comes to Donald Trump? Speculating without evidence, spreading conspiracy theories that turn out to be false, and unleashing a torrent of false allegations, mischaracterizations and baseless rumors sums up very well the Post’s coverage of the Donald Trump campaign, and of his presidency since January 2017.

So, while I am critical of tweets like the ones the Post is complaining about, I have a hard time working up a lot of sympathy for Joe Scarborough, and I can’t read the Post’s self-righteous account with anything but derision.

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