Everyone’s A Conspiracy Theorist, Whether They Know It Or Not

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Caitlin Johnstone

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]lutocratic propaganda outlet MSNBC has just run a spin segment on the breaking news that the medical examiner’s determination of the cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death is “pending further information”.“Our sources are still saying that it looks like suicide, and this is going to set conspiracy theorists abuzz I fear,” said NBC correspondent Ken Dilanian. “NBC News has been hearing all day long that there are no indications of foul play, and that this looks like a suicide and that he hung himself in his cell.”Dilanian, who stumbled over the phrase “conspiracy theorists” in his haste to get it in the first soundbyte, is a known asset of the Central Intelligence Agency. This is not a conspiracy theory, this is a well-documented fact. A 2014 article in The Intercept titled “The CIA’s Mop-Up Man” reveals email exchanges obtained via Freedom of Information Act request between Dilanian and CIA public affairs officers which “show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication.” There is no reason to give Dilanian the benefit of the doubt that this cozy relationship has ended, so anything he puts forward can safely be dismissed as CIA public relations.When I mentioned Dilanian’s CIA ties on MSNBC’s Twitter video, MSNBC deleted their tweet and then re-shared it without mentioning Dilanian’s name. Here is a screenshotof the first tweet followed by an embedded link to their current one (which I’ve archivedjust in case):


Up until the news broke that Epstein’s autopsy has been unable to readily confirm suicide, mass media headlines everywhere have been unquestioningly blaring that that was known to have been the cause of the accused sex trafficker’s death. This despite the fact that the FBI’s investigation has been explicitly labeling it an “apparent suicide”, and despite the fact that Epstein is credibly believed to have been involved in an intelligence-tied sexual blackmail operation involving many powerful people, any number of whom stood plenty to gain from his death.

So things are moving in a very weird way, and people are understandably weirded out. The response to this from mass media narrative managers has, of course, been to berate everyone as “conspiracy theorists”.

Jeffrey Epstein: How conspiracy theories spread after financier’s death” reads a BBC headline. “Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System Is Poisoned” reads one from the New York Times. “Conspiracy Theories Fly Online in Wake of Epstein Death” warns The Wall Street Journal. “Financier Epstein’s Death Disappoints Victims, Launches Conspiracy Theories” reads the headline from US government-funded Voice of America.

These outlets generally match Dilanian’s tone in branding anyone who questions the official story about Epstein’s death as a raving lunatic. Meanwhile, normal human beings all across the political spectrum are expressing skepticism on social media about the “suicide” narrative we’re all being force-fed by the establishment narrative managers, many of them prefacing their skepticism with some variation on the phrase “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but…”

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist but there are an awful lot of very powerful people who would like to see this Epstein thing go away. Is anyone investigating the guard on duty?” tweeted actor Patricia Heaton.

I am not into conspiracy theories. But Epstein had destructive information on an extraordinary number of extraordinarily powerful people. It is not easy to commit suicide in prison. Especially after being placed on suicide watch. Especially after already allegedly trying,” tweeted public defender Scott Hechinger.


Journalist Abi Wilkinson summed up the silliness of this widespread preface very nicely, tweeting, “‘”I’m not a conspiracy theorist’ is such a weird assertion when you think about it, the idea there’s a binary between believing all conspiracies and flat out rejecting the very concept of conspiracy in all circumstances.”

Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that everyone is a conspiracy theorist if they’re really honest with themselves. Not everyone believes that the official stories about 9/11 and the JFK assassination are riddled with plot holes or what have you, but I doubt that anyone who really sat down and sincerely grappled with the question “Do powerful people conspire?” would honestly deny it. Some are just more self-aware than others about the self-evident reality that powerful people conspire all the time, and it’s only a question of how and with whom and to what extent.

The word “conspire” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or an act which becomes unlawful as a result of the secret agreement”. No sane person would deny that this is a thing that happens, nor that this is likely a thing that happens to some extent among the powerful in their own nation. This by itself is a theory about conspiracy per definition, and it accurately applies to pretty much everyone. Since it applies to pretty much everyone, the label is essentially meaningless, either as a pejorative or as anything else.

The meaningless of the term has been clearly illustrated by Russiagate, whose adherents react with sputtering outrage whenever anyone points out that they’re engaged in a conspiracy theory, despite the self-evident fact that that’s exactly what it is: a theory about a band of powerful Russian conspirators conspiring with the highest levels of the US government. Their objection is not due to a belief that they’re not theorizing about a conspiracy, their objection is due to the fact that a highly stigmatized label that they’re accustomed to applying to other people has been applied to them. The label is rejected because its actual definition is ignored to the point of meaninglessness.


The problem has never been with the actual term “conspiracy theory”; the problem has been with its deliberate and completely meaningless use as a pejorative. The best way to address this would be a populist move to de-stigmatize the label by taking ownership of it. Last month Cornell University professor Dave Callum tweeted, “I am a ‘conspiracy theorist’. I believe men and women of wealth and power conspire. If you don’t think so, then you are what is called ‘an idiot’. If you believe stuff but fear the label, you are what is called ‘a coward’.” This is what we all must do. The debate must be forcibly moved from the absurd question of whether or not conspiracies are a thing to the important question of which conspiracy theories are valid and to what degree.

And we should probably hurry. Yahoo News reported earlier this month (1) that the FBI recently published an intelligence bulletin describing “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” as a growing threat, and this was before the recent spate of US shootings got establishment narrative-makers pushing for new domestic terrorism laws. This combined with the fact that we can’t even ask questions about extremely suspicious events like Jeffrey Epstein’s death without being tarred with this meaningless pejorative by the mass media thought police means we’re at extreme risk of being shoved into something far more Orwellian in the near future.


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This is a dispatch from our ongoing series by Caitlin Johnstone


Reaction to Yahoo News report

(1)  A brief look at the threads commenting on this news item shows that while (as we might expect given that Yahoo, itself part of the frequently fake news corporate communications system, attracts a lot of older conservative/establishment-believing folks, and that there also paid or volunteer trolls seeding the discussion in favor of the FBI), many people do not agree and are probably prepared to oppose the FBI/Intel power grab to silence independent thinking in America. The discussion is also somewhat muddled by the presence and slants representing liberals who hate Trump, and Trumpites defending the president, both sticking to their positions dogmatically.

Below some examples picked for quality, at random:

12 days ago

The "powers that be" are desperate to discredit the alternative media that is finally providing large sections of the general public with accurate information to counter the propaganda that comes out of the corporate media. The goal is to portray so-called "conspiracy theorists" as mentally-unhinged people who are potentially prone to violence or who will recklessly spread false information in a way that is akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. This will provide the "cover" for more aggressive government crackdowns against purveyors of information who don't toe the line with regard to official government narratives. Documentation that has come to light through freedom-of-information requests, has confirmed that “conspiracy theory” is a pejorative term that was cooked up by the CIA way back in the 60s after the JFK assassination. It is used to try to stigmatize people and deter them, by fear of ridicule, from using their reasoning abilities to see through government propaganda. Among the millions of people who became aware that JFK was not killed by a lone gunman, are the late Jackie Onassis and RFK junior. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1976 that "Kennedy was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy”. People are convicted of criminal conspiracy all the time. One of the tactics of the government propagandists is to mix nonsense like Elvis still being alive and alien abductions with very real conspiracies like 9/11 which was carried out by traitors within the US government. The “powers that be” are becoming increasingly worried because they know that the internet has exposed their complicity in crimes like 9/11 to millions of people worldwide and the calls to bring the real perpetrators to justice are growing louder every day.

  • 12 days ago
    I don't trust my government. Does that make me a conspiracy theorist??
  • Scruff McGruff

    12 days ago

    Tons of conspiracy theories have come true, and a lot of the time it's parts of the government (like the FBI and CIA) that are involved in it. Now they want to inform you on how bad it might be? Lol.
    It's okay to question things and keep an open mind.
    I feel like these types of articles are designed to suppress independent thought and label and dismiss an entire group of people. Can't be using critical thought when you're supposed to eat up everything the corporate media tells you.
12 days ago
Pointing out FBI's conspiracy theories is now an act of subversion ?
12 days ago
people are getting more accurate with their theories. so now of course the FBI is involved.
  • 12 days ago
    "The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump"... Then what do you call it when you have a group of FBI agents, CIA operatives, former FBI and CIA directors working on an "insurance plan" if Trump won the election?
  • jini g

    11 days ago

    The so called conspiracy theory are not real "conspiracy theory" because there is no official and convincing explanation. So every theory is a theory, not conspiracy.
    FBI is still largely controlled by deep state.
    BTW, there is not evidence, not quote from FBI document that called Q as domestic terrorist threat. NO EVIDENCE, NO actually link, NO actual document image.

About the Author
Caitlin Johnstone is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician. 

 Creative Commons License  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

THIS WORK IS LICENSED UNDER A Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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