By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – I enjoyed my stint sitting in for Dan Rea Monday night – except for a couple of callers promoting conspiracy theories.

Skepticism – and maybe a touch of tightly-regulated paranoia once in awhile – are not necessarily bad things. Sometimes people do conspire, or even lie to us, believe it or not.

But in general, I don’t like conspiracy theories.

Far more often than not, they are false and manipulative, the work of ignorant minds swallowed mindlessly by the ignorant. And in the internet era, where too many people have lost any capacity for or interest in distinguishing fact from fiction, the conspiracy theory may be the fastest-growing stock on the market.

Just look at the two major-party presidential nominees.

Hillary Clinton coined the famous phrase about the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” back in the 1990’s as she tried to deny the truth about her husband’s infidelity. And the Democratic Party has peddled plenty of conspiracy theories over the years, mostly about the dark motives of big-money donors, although you don’t hear them talk about that as much now that some of those same donors are rallying behind their candidates.

And Donald Trump is arguably America’s leading broadcaster on the conspiracy theory network. He was a birther when few sane people were, and his campaign musings are replete with debunked conspiracy theories.

Plus, he is the undisputed king of hardcore conspiracy theorists across the internet, including a frightening number of his own paid staffers.

Once in a great while, a conspiracy theory proves true. The rest are garbage.

And if ignorance is bliss, we are on track to becoming a culture full of blissful conspiracy theorists.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Comments (11)
  1. mstarvin says:

    Of course you hate conspiracy theories…your candidate..Hillary is always at the center. The problem is when it comes to her they are all TRUE!!

  2. Concerned American says:

    Of course, the original birther was in Hillary’s 2008 campaign… but naturally you neglect to mention that.

  3. Bees Knees6 says:

    Unlike the other posters, I would agree with you. Conspiracy theories play to the lowest common form. I do not like them from either side, and they do exist on all sides. However, it is worse when their followers encourage them.

  4. The Owl says:

    Jon, now what is the role that the press has played in making sure that “conspiracy theories” get out-sized play on their pages, and in their radio and TV spots?

    And you missed the one where Hillary is blaming her “vast right-wing conspiracy” for the trouble that she is finding herself in with her e-mail problem.

    And, sir, I notice that you are deathly silent on the fact that the FBI found nearly 15,000 work-related emails that she should have turned over. And didn’t she, under oath, claim to the State Department that she had turned over ALL</i? of he work-related e-mails.

    How come you are choosing not to cover those developments in your commentary?

    1. The Owl says:

      Oh, and need we add…

      The current “conspiracy theory” of Hillary’s that she only used the private e-mail system was all the fault of Colin Powell who told her to do so a dinner with former Secretaries of State…

      Where at least three of the six guests have said that they do not remember the conversation,

      What say you, Jon?

      Are you not willing to comment on that which is “really news” these days?

      1. bees_knees_3 says:

        I really hate to take the wind out of your sails, Owl; however, those are not conspiracy theories. They are, according to Powell, whom I have no reason to doubt, lies and foolish diversions which is a term with which you should be quite familiar. A conspiracy theory would be Trump’s decision that Hillary has a physical illness. I do note, however, that you continue to conveniently ignore the fact that there are problems on both sides and not just one. I have the name of an excellent masseuse if you need to get the crick out of your neck in order to look both right and left.

      2. The Owl. says:

        Of Rice, Clinton, Kissigner, or Powell, who is the most believable, Bees.


        Surely you jest, my dear.

  5. lizzzy321 says:

    The American people have learned time and time ….and time again, that they are rarely privy to what is going on behind closed doors until someone writes a tell all book, years later. And then we learn just how deep the lies and corruption have gone. The American people have become so jaded, that many people don’t even express surprise any more. Some people actually accept corruption as par for the course. I’ve seen people, today, defend it as it relates to Clinton’s Foundation and the donations from foreign countries.

    So there is no huge leap to a conspiracy theory. Theorizing is what you are left with when you have known liars in political office who are in a position to prevent true investigations and the truth from ever coming out. And plenty of questionable facts to point to.

    I don’t like corruption. I hate lies and manipulation. I hate hidden agendas and one hand washing the other. And ‘spin’. I really, really hate spin. And how about a one sided narrative – there’s another one. All of these I hate more than you hate conspiracies.

    If people in office had not crushed the trust of the American people countless numbers of times – we’d have a whole lot less conspiracy theories. And I can’t blame anyone for having them. If you want someone to blame Jon, blame corrupt politicians who have broken our trust too many times and show no indication of changing.

    1. bees_knees_3 says:

      Or blame people who eat them up and then spread them. I think it is definitely a two-way street. But I certainly can blame people who deliberately start a rumor and then follow up with more and more lies.

  6. Steve Stein says:

    “Back during the first Clinton presidency, James Carville used to talk about what he called, in his folksy way, The Puke Funnel. This was his way of describing how fanciful tales of Arkansas criminality would begin life as items buried in the wild kingdom of the British tabloids. This enabled American tabloids to quote the British tabloids, which would enable more respectable outfits to “cover the controversy,” at which point everyone was off to the races.” – Charles Pierce

  7. bees_knees_3 says:

    Owl, you truly do not read do you? Or do you honestly think any one of the folks you named is more truthful than Powell. If so, surely you jest.

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