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The contagion of conspiracy theories

On February 22nd 2020, AIMN author John Lord penned an insightful observation.

In an essay entitled ‘Truth doesn’t have the same importance it once did’, Mr Lord opined; ‘lies are so commonplace now that people just discount them or factor them into whatever context they read into various methods of communication. Many believe them.’

The contagion of lies and conspiracies became a global phenomenon after astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. When the Apollo Lunar Module, Eagle, touched down on the moon, millions called the landing a hoax.

Then as now, the world is witnessing conspiracies spread across the globe.

For example. On February 17 2020, in the United States – the epicentre of conspiracy theories – a Republican senator from Arkansas claimed the coronavirus is the product of a Chinese biological laboratory.

We simply do not know if this is true or false.

And on February 26 2020, a far-right commentator awarded the US Medal of Freedom, claimed the common cold, aka Covid-19, is being deployed to ‘get Trump’.

The world is awash with conspiracies, ranging from the downright weird – QAnon comes to mind – to subtle, reasonably sounding counter arguments mounted by so called libertarians.

The main enabler of both brands is – you guessed it – the hydra headed global entity known as News Corp.

At the QAnon end of the spectrum is Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pirro and others on the Fox News network in the USA. In Australia it is Paul Murray, Chris Kenny, Alan Jones et al, on Sky After Dark.


Some Fox News lunacy


All of the above are highly paid entertainers masquerading as journalists. It’s pointless enumerating their collective idiocy other than stating the obvious danger of their prognostications. Craig Kelly spruiking Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 on Sky After Dark, is a prime example. Let’s hope NSW Police knock on Kelly’s door and serve him with a warrant under the current NSW Health regulations.

Sadly, this will never happen.

The more insidious conspiracy mongers are those who count themselves as libertarians. Writers for The Australian newspaper, Tom Switzer, and Adam Creighton, come to mind.

Switzer hosts Between the Lines, a talk show broadcast on ABC Radio National. On the surface the programme comprises crisp, reasonable chat about weighty matters dear to the heart of its conservative audience.

But listen carefully, and Switzer and company smoothly promulgate falsehoods every bit as cock-eyed as those of Craig Kelly and celebrity chef Pete Evans.

The most recent example can be found on Between the Lines broadcast on the ABC on 29/07/2021.

At six minutes and eight seconds into the broadcast, Creighton says forced masking is underway in the United States. The fact is, mandated masking is in place in nine US States and many US overseas territories.

No such mandate exists in at least 40 US States and territories, yet the libertarian Creighton blithely misinformed his audience without so much as a by-your-leave by host Switzer.

Again, at eight minutes and fifteen seconds into the programme, Creighton says he does not believe there is exponential growth in Covid. The key word is ‘exponential’ as per this article published in the UK edition of The Conversation by Christian Yates Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology, the University of Bath.

Creighton may not believe Covid is spreading exponentially, but the citizens of India certainly do!

And to say “frankly I don’t think people would even be aware there is a pandemic without the media” is, in my opinion, dangerous cant. Again, neither Switzer nor the programme’s other guest, Danielle Wood, executive director of the Grattan Institute based in Melbourne, took Creighton to task.

So, what is the end game of the conspiracy mongers? The answer: untrammelled power. The HBO documentary series Q: Into the Storm reveals just how close a conspiracy came to toppling the United States.

Without giving too much away, six months ago Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to condemn ex-US President Donald Trump, for enabling the riot in the US Capitol building.

Now, in an epidemic within a pandemic in New South Wales, it behoves journalists of standing like Tom Switzer and Adam Creighton to report facts rather than hide behind the trope of so-called conservative libertarianism.

A true libertarian advocates liberty especially in thought or conduct. In my opinion the recent edition of Between the Lines is as much a sham as the hideous weekly tosh known as Outsiders broadcast on Sky. The difference being the former claims gravitas via its association with the ABC, while the latter is as weird as the conspiracies it peddles.

Henry Johnston is an author based in the Blue Mountains. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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  1. Andrew J. Smith

    Interesting and frustrating but this is the imported GOP etc. architecture or modus operandi to form ‘conservative’ voter coalitions round sociocultural issues and perceptions.

    Either Jane Mayer or Nancy MacLean, referring to to the role of Koch Networks etc. (‘owning’ the GOP) explained how Evangelicals, pro-lifers, white nationalists etc. have been used to create an ageing white GOP conservative coalition based upon beliefs, authoritarianism, avoidance of science and analysis.

    The latter then allows unpalatable ‘radical right libertarian’ policies to pass in the background, or conversely blocking e.g. environmental legislation aka Koch’s ALEC (whose ‘Australian’ representation had been via a NewsCorp journalist).

    Now, conspiracy theories, and those who follow are also ripe for the picking to participate in same coalition of ‘shared values’ based upon ignorance, mistrust of ‘experts’ and nativist agitprop; maybe the potential for this MO is waning as demographics change.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Switzer is a pile of shit done up as an academic of some class, balance, integrity, but, he is and always was a plant, an injected, spying, lying, rumourmongering, divisive ugly grub. Today lies, which were once repressed in the great press of orthodox religion, for moral and ethical purposes to suit the management, have been released from constraint and bondage, so that gross lying story telling and impure bullshit fiction is fully embraced as the way to assert yourself, be noticed, fool the other dickhead, advance your ego and cash in. What swine we have in public life now, treacherous.

  3. Phil Pryor

    Gone again, shot through, didsappeared, so.., what is it?

  4. Michael Taylor

    Phil, the problem has been logged with the web hosts and we’ll be working through it tomorrow.

    By the way, was your comment the one that now appears? Please let me know. 👍

  5. Steve Smith

    I gave up listening to Switzer years ago. It shits me that the ABC give him a platform.

  6. BB

    News Corpse, the birth place of exponential growth in pseudo journalism.
    Welcome to the nightmare, now living life between a rock and catch22.

    (To Michael. FYI. Last comment I made there was no 5 min edit function.)

  7. wam

    The modern religious trilogy:
    opinions need no basis in fact

    what you believe is truth ergo opinion is truth

    beliefs cannot be challenged ergo opinions can grow on propaganda, casual observation or whim without any learning

    The ring that rules them all is firmly on the finger of sky news which begins to trash regional minds as ‘regional’ news

  8. Terence Mills

    I’m going to try this post again, the first attempt was lost in transmission.

    What I was saying was that Alan Jones is going the way of the dinosaur after the Daily Telegraph dropped his column saying that it no longer resonated with readers.

    He still features as a star on Sky after Dark where his worth is measured against the likes of compatriots including Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin, Rowan Dean and Cory Bernardi.

    So, in that grouping the old adage remains true :

    In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king !

  9. Lawrence S. Roberts

    Sisters, brothers and comrades, we all intend to be on the right side of history, however long that may be. It dawned on me the other day while listening to “Between the Lines” abc Radio National. It was a one sided discussion promoting the nuclear power industry in which Tom Switzer had done no homework and asked no searching questions. As I was drafting a letter of complaint to the abc management I wondered how they get away with it and keep a straight face. Some people in the abc must know it’s all B.S. and has a content of heavy irony. Between the Lines is a comedy show? Since then I have found the show mildly amusing as is Amanda’s show “Counterpoint’ which doesn’t counter anything or accounts for nothing.
    Remember when the general assembly of the United Nations laughed at Donald Trump. We should have a similar attitude to our very own Humpty.

  10. Keith

    Just lately it has occurred to me the the Federal government is no different to the anti vaccers, on climate change. They do virtually nothing, which amounts to denial; yet, push the insidious message they are on top of climate change policy.

    What makes me extremely angry are the comments the LNP are making through Susan Ley in relation to having no responsibility for children in relation to climate change. That attitude can only be seen as the absolute pits, it amounts to LNP politicians saying their children don’t matter.

  11. Phil Pryor

    Thanks Michael, it was…all amusingly irritating, or irritatingly amusing.

  12. Michael Taylor

    Thanks for letting me know, Phil. That’s important info for when I chat to the web host today.

  13. Bill

    The terms ‘conspiracy’ and ‘conspiracy theory’ were coined by the FBI originally to thwart casual investigation and interest into the murder of JF Kennedy. Today, still, the ‘conspiracy’ label is used by a manipulating media whenever they need to deceive the public.

    Claiming something a ‘conspiracy theory’ worked on me up until 2 years ago at which time I by chance found out about the dangers of electro-magnetic radiation at the current power levels of propagation and manner unnatural digital modulation.

    If the scientific agencies that are supposed to be protecting the public can lie continuously about one area of health (EMR), then are people so naïve as to believe other agencies are concerned about your health? No-one is going to save you from your ignorance. Wake up. You should have smelled a dead media-rat last year when the Great Barrington declaration, a common sense document, was summarily dismissed by the media.

    Science, re viruses and health, died in 2020, or was rather killed in 2020 by a complicit and criminally-inspired lame stream media. Leave the media & puppets in govt to rot.

  14. Phil Pryor

    Nothing will save Bill from his complete ignorance, and, this shitty attempt at propaganda and mischief is contemptible, contrived, misleading, wrong and stupid. Trumpian Trash. The aforementioned Barrington document is garbage, self centred, unscientific, widely condemned by 12,000 USA medical experts, socially irresponsible,and the comment remains a pile of excremental lies.

  15. Phil Pryor

    Gone again.., chronic problem.., energies lost.., no solution.

  16. Michael Taylor

    Hi Phil, we’ve made a few changes out back that hopefully has resolved the problem. Hopefully being the key word.

  17. Michael Taylor

    BB, that’s been fixed.

    The function that allows the comments to be edited up to five minutes after being posted, was installing an update. If I hadn’t have slept in I would have had that fixed earlier. 😁

  18. New England Cocky

    I have been following the rise & rise of Rupert Murdoch for many decades. Murdoch was reported on ABC Radio as disclosing this first information.

    In 1961 Murdoch and then editor of The Australian had an unchaperoned interview with JFK where they discussed US options of a third world war and Cuba missiles among other topics. They departed by plane form Washington, only to be met at San Francisco by a junior US State Department official requesting that Murdoch NOT publish the JFK interview. Again at Honolulu the senior State Department officials (note plural) made the same request.

    At touch down in Sydney the US Ambassador & party met the plane and requested no publication. Murdoch reluctantly agreed. The rest is history; the Cuba .CIA sponsored unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion, the stand off over Russian missiles on Cuba, the personal agreement between JFK and Kruschev to call off the missiles in Cuba while the US re-positioned US missiles out of Europe and into Cyprus.

    Subsequently, Murdoch received generous interest rate discounts from US major banks, and The Australian has never posted a taxable income since founded in 1964.

    Roll on to the the 1987 Iran contra scandal and the CISA strategy to involve Murdoch (a proven reliable CIA person) Now read the following Marshall Wilson article ”How Reagan and US agencies made Murdoch a king” (John Menadue, Pearls & Irritations, .300721).

    How Reagan and US agencies made Murdoch a king.

  19. Terence Mills

    Actually I see Murdoch as diminishing after the heady days when he (like the Corleone family) tried to go legitimate and he acquired The London Times and the Washington Post.

    But like the Corleone family his base instincts led him to the ugliness of The News of the World and the far right lunacy of FOX News now spreading like the Delta variant to SKY.

    Not much of a legacy i

  20. Jack Cade

    Lawrence S Roberts

    Never mind ‘between the lines’. I have stopped listening to the ABC news because every bulletin has an ‘anti-China’ item. Taking up to
    one-third of EVERY bulletin, with no evidence, just opinions planted by the coalition.
    I wonder what Uncle Sam would do if China, Iran, Russia etc carried out ‘naval exercises’ in the Caribbean?
    Surrender, probably.

  21. GL


    It must lonely in your tinfoil hat universe and dreaming your dreamy dreams of horrible conspiracies and belief in rubbish like the Great Barrington Declaration and other such pseudoscience nonsense.

    “Science, re viruses and health, died in 2020, or was rather killed in 2020 by a complicit and criminally-inspired lame stream media.” Any empirical evidence to back up such a moronic statement? If you use your favourite “D.Y.O.R.” then please don’t bother replying and making yourself look even more foolish and sad.

  22. john lord

    Nice read Henry. Thanks for the read.

  23. Henry Johnston

    A pleasure, John.
    All the best.

  24. Bill

    GL, 2 more questions: Why does the lamestream media go on singing praises of an experimental gene therapy, one that has no long-term profile of safety, as the only way of gov-imposed lockdowns? Why has China been quick to export its vaccines to other countries but slow to use them against its own population? (https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations > vaccinations tab, add China)

    While the elderly with a pre-existing condition might benefit from experimental injections, this constant push by media/officialdumb to get all inoculated with mRNA that doesn’t prevent infection but rather offers a promise to reduce severity of symptoms is naïve at best. Most children & young people (CYP) have an INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM that’s VERY EFFECTIVE in handling SARS CoV2: https://europepmc.org/article/PPR/PPR366553
    “99·995% of CYP with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test survived. . . SARS-CoV-2 is very rarely fatal in CYP, even among those with underlying comorbidities.”

    GL: “empirical evidence” of the death of science? Try https://www.c19vaxreactions.com/
    You will never see this subject of serious injuries broached by the Lamestream.
    Cowards of a feather can’t do journalism in 2021 it seems.

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