Here’s the Latest Stupid Conservative Conspiracy Theory

Tong Wu/TNS via ZUMA

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It’s hard keeping up with conservative conspiracy theories. Did you know that for the past week the usual suspects (Hannity, Drudge, etc.) have been circulating the bombshell news that we now have PROOF the FBI was conspiring against Donald Trump during last year’s campaign? Naturally this involves Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two FBI agents who were conducting an affair and have had their entire text message history laid bare to the world. And just as naturally, congressional Republicans are investigating it.

Long story short, last week John Solomon wrote a piece for The Hill about the Republican investigation. His article suggested that Page and Strzok had advance knowledge of a Wall Street Journal piece, which means they may have been the ones who leaked it. In the hands of the idiot conspiracy loons at Gateway Pundit, this became “Obama’s Deep State FBI and DOJ Caught Synchronizing Anti-Trump Classified Leaks to Liberal Media.” By now it’s probably entered the eternal lore of the right-wing grievance industry.

Ryan Reilly and Nick Baumann have looked into the whole thing over at HuffPo and produced 2400 words of debunking. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Reporters usually call the FBI for comment on stories like this, and word spreads pretty quickly. This is most likely why Strzok and Page knew the Journal article was coming.
  • The article in question wasn’t anti-Trump. It was anti-Hillary.
  • Strzok and Page seemed pretty annoyed by the fallout from this leak.

I can’t say that I really care about this story, which is obviously ridiculous, except as an example of how this stuff spreads in the right-wing universe. Strzok and Page have become the Susan Rice of Russiagate, all-purpose villains whose lives are casually ruined in service of smearing Democrats. Nobody else is paying any attention to this dumb story, but among the conservative ALL CAPS crowd, it’s probably holy writ already.

POSTSCRIPT: I probably don’t need to add this, but everyone already knows the real story here: there was only one set of politically-motivated leakers in the FBI during the 2016 campaign, and that was the New York office, which was virulently anti-Hillary. They were the ones who apparently forced James Comey to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election.

It’s this obvious fact that seems to have been responsible for the furious pushback from conservatives. Donald Trump can’t bear the thought that people believe the FBI was responsible for his victory, so he’s busily smearing the entire organization and promoting stories about the FBI being anti-Trump. Naturally, his fans are all playing along.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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