Donald Trump’s morning Twitter blasts, in which he’s treating documents he hasn’t even seen yet as definitive proof that his campaign wasn’t the cause, but the victim, of a conspiracy may seem nonsensical. Because they are. But they’re also representative of a narrative that has been building on the right—an interwoven nest of terms, memes, themes, and theories—that’s now been put together into a terrifying mass hallucination. We’ve gone past Stupid Watergate. This is Even Stupider Pizzagate. And it looks all too sickeningly like the end game.
From day one, Trump has been putting down the markers. The Deep State. The Obama FBI. The 13 Democrats. It didn’t matter that none of it was true. Like everything in the alt-Reich, it becomes true through repetition.
Pizzagate, the astoundingly improbable, brain-achingly idiotic conspiracy theory that had Democratic operatives—including, of course, Hillary Clinton—operating a child sex slavery ring out of a DC-area pizzeria, developed on the alt-Reich in fits and starts. It started with a single Reddit post that made dozens of allegations about Comet Pizza that were immediately and provably nonsense. It didn’t matter. Within weeks, a man drove up from North Carolina to send employees and customers running with an AR-15 as he searched the establishment for the “hidden rooms” and “pedophilia murals” that he knew were there. All it took was a little crowd-sourced mass-psychosis that included scanning Google street view images for signs of butterflies and creating a dictionary to translate sex trafficking that was oh-so-cleverly encoded as pizza orders.
Just because something is fundamentally stupid, and utterly lacking in the first thing that resembles a fact, doesn’t mean it won’t gain adherents. That’s particularly true if the idea isn’t popping up spontaneously in response to a single, soon-deleted post, but is being carefully tended, groomed, nurtured, and expanded by a broad spectrum of right-wing media and daily infusions from Donald Trump.
That kind of attention can grow a conspiracy theory that’s more elaborate than the plot of Westworld and equally capable of ensnaring millions into making their own “discoveries,” creating their own fan theories and building an ever more convoluted, and ugly, idea. And that’s where we are. Even Stupider Pizzagate. And it’s starting to look like the most dangerous moment since Trump’s election.
The idea that the FBI, DOJ, CIA—every government agency, no matter what it is or what its actual affiliation—is and always has been an instrument of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may seem just as silly, and just as provably false, as claims that a pizza place was covered in sex murals. After all, the FBI and CIA have long been strongly tied to the Republican Party. That’s been true ever since the last Democratic director of the FBI. And there has never been a Democratic director of the FBI.
Again … it doesn’t matter. Because whether it’s Republican professor Stefan Halper or Republican Robert Mueller or Republican James Comey or … any Republican at all, an actual history of working with the party for decades no longer matters. Anyone who crosses Trump is a traitor. And the new name for traitor is Democrat. It is very, very easy to compose a sentence in which the phrase “13 Democrats” is paired to the words “up against the wall.”
When Trump demanded that the FBI become his political instrument in a weekend tweet, former CIA director John Brennan warned that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would have to answer for the harm being caused by Trump.
Within hours, Trump responded with an extended thread describing Brennan as “panicking” and a “disgrace.” The thread also includes a statement that “This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation. Brennan has disgraced himself, he’s worried about staying out of Jail.”
If all of this seems like a massive over-response to Brennan’s statement, and if the idea that John Brennan is somehow at the heart of the Trump–Russia investigation seems odd … that’s because it’s part of Even Stupider Pizzagate—the alt-Reich conspiracy created out of all the scraps Trump, Fox News, Breitbart, AM radio, and a million chattering keyboards have created.
And, as Vanity Fair explains, this is the conspiracy theory that is now driving action within the White House. Thanks, much less surprisingly, to the king of right-wing conspiracy theories.
[Roger] Stone claims the anti-Trump conspiracy includes senior intelligence officials from the Barack Obama administration. “The guy who will end up burning in all this is [former C.I.A. director] John Brennan,” Stone told me. “If I were him I’d break the capsule and swallow it now. That psychopath is going down.”
Brennan has been on Trump’s radar since he dared confirm that Russia had tried to help Trump get elected. And since then, he has been on Trump’s enemies list.
Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
The problem with Even Stupider Pizzagate—which Donald Trump is calling “spygate”—isn’t that it’s another stack of Trump nonsense. It’s that it’s purposely designed to be offensive nonsense. In the go-on-the-attack sense of that word.
This theory isn’t designed to protect Trump from the accumulating evidence of his multi-billion dollar corruption. This is a weaponized conspiracy theory.
This is a theory designed to give Trump what he needs to once-and-for-all destroy the Deep State complex, which sincerely expected Hillary Clinton to win, and was doing all it could to support her. However, seeing that Donald Trump represented a mortal threat to their dark conspiracy to give America health care, improve education, and raise working class wages, the Deep State also had a backup plan: They planted spies in the Trump campaign. Those spies dangled foreign agents in front of Trump’s people, or made their own connections to Russia. All so that later they could use those connections to remove Trump by pretending to discover the threads that they had planted.
If that sounds convoluted, that’s only a tiny fraction of the long, twisting chain that’s now cranking through 4Chan, Reddit, Breitbart comments, and AM broadcasts. For fans of Pizzagate, its improbability was a feature. Putting it all together proved that they were smarter than those liberal traitors. That they saw through their game.
Even Stupider Pizzagate isn’t just stupider. It’s miles more dangerous.