Conspiracy theory

Megyn Kelly has tough questions for Alex Jones but doesn’t push for hard answers

Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly is pictured during “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly.” (Brian Doben / NBC News)

gave fake news radio host and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — a man who made a name for himself claiming that the 2012 massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax, that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor and that the U.S. government was in on the 9/11 attacks, among other claims — nearly 20 minutes of air time. Prime time. Sunday night. On NBC.

That’s 10 more minutes (an eternity in TV-news segment time) than Russian President Vladimir Putin got during the debut of her NBC show, “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” this month.

Even before it aired, the interview with Jones caused an uproar among viewers, advertisers and parents of the slain children, who demanded that Kelly cut Jones from her hour-long show.

The concern was that it would legitimize the dangerous figure whose fabricated stories had inspired Sandy Hook deniers to harass and threaten the children’s parents and a gunman to show up at the aforementioned pizza parlor.

Kelly responded to the criticisms, saying she felt it was important to “shine a light” on Jones. But come Sunday, that light was a dim bulb at best.

Early on, Kelly asked her interviewee to address the comments he’d made on his radio show regarding the deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last month.

“You said it was ‘liberal trendies’ who were killed,” she said. “But many of the victims were kids.… You would suggest an 8-year-old was a ‘liberal trendy’?”

Jones rambled out a senseless, word salad of an answer that cleared up absolutely nothing. “I got home at, like, 6, heard about it. The ages of the victims weren’t even known. But they were saying it was jihadi. And I said, ‘How crazy is it that liberal trendies are now the victims?’ And then I start going and looking. Of course, if there’s kids being killed by Muslims, I’m not saying that it’s their fault. Of course, if kids are the victims, I’m not saying it’s their fault.”

And she left it at that. No follow-up. Just this narrated segue from Kelly: “That pattern, reckless accusations followed by equivocation and excuses, is classic Alex Jones.” Kelly too was aware that her…

I Despise Alex Jones, and I’m Glad Megyn Kelly Interviewed Him

Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly

Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly’s interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has sparked major outrage since it was announced. Most harshly, critics have called Kelly’s invitation for Jones to appear on her show an insult to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Jones has previously claimed that the massacre, which resulted in the deaths of twenty children and six adults, was a false-flag attack in which paid actors played the parts of victims and their families.

This is just one of the many lies Jones has repeated on his show. To add to his shameful history of peddling blatant falsehoods about national tragedies, Jones has even lied about his lying.

Since the interview was announced, he has denied calling Sandy Hook a conspiracy and claimed to have simply “played devil’s advocate” in the debate over the legitimacy of news reports surrounding the tragedy. This has turned out to be utterly false, as he said on his show that “no one died” at Sandy Hook and called it a “complete hoax

For his lies and hypocrisy, I personally loathe Alex Jones and deeply wish he didn’t have a following of millions eagerly lapping up his incoherent ramblings.

I also deeply wish he didn’t have the respect of the President of the United States, who repeatedly praised Jones on his show and gave him White House press credentials despite his lack of personal, let alone “journalistic” integrity.

But the fact remains that he has that following. He has the respect of President Trump and he’s not going to lose those things if we as a society simply ignore him.

If Jones was just some rambling lunatic with no audience to account for, I’d agree with Kelly’s critics that there is no compelling reason to interview him. But Jones has…

NBC Has A Right To Book Alex Jones, But Does It Have A Good Enough Reason?

Infowars host Alex Jones declared victory Monday against the mainstream media and their “globalist” agenda, six days before his controversial interview with NBC is scheduled to air.

“I win by going into the Gorgon’s pit and I survive,” Jones said. “I survived going into that lair. And that’s what it’s all about.”

The Gorgon, in this case, is NBC host Megyn Kelly, who Jones also referred to Monday as a “fembot Dr. Evil.” The descriptions are on-brand for Infowars, where Jones warns daily on the internet of dark forces plotting against him and his liberty-loving audience. It’s where he’s also helped fuel conspiracy theories, like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks being an “inside job,” and the slaughter of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax.

Such conspiracy mongering wouldn’t so dangerous if unhinged individuals weren’t threatening the parents of dead children, or if Infowars didn’t have influence in the White House. President Donald Trump, known for pushing conspiracy theories himself, has appeared on the show, and longtime outside adviser Roger Stone is regular guest and occasional fill-in host.

Kelly cited Trump’s fondness for Infowars as justification for booking Jones on her Sunday evening newsmagazine in response to criticism that has included complaints from families of Sandy Hook victims and calls on social media to boycott the network.

Networks have aired interviews with mass murderers like Charles Manson and brutal dictators like Syria’s Bashar Assad. So it’s tough to argue that the appearance of Jones on broadcast television should be taboo.

But in deciding to “shine a light” on Jones, NBC risks of giving a spotlight to a provocateur known for promoting misleading claims ― and providing him with a new audience.

A promotional clip released Sunday from the interview showed Kelly challenging Jones on Sandy Hook, and pointing out when he dodged a question about his views. Still, Jones is seen on…

Sean Hannity, a Murder and Why Fake News Endures

If we can learn anything from the latest triple-bank-shot of a conspiracy theory coursing through the alt-reality media — this one involving the unsolved murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member named Seth Rich — it’s this: Fake news dies hard.

God knows people have tried. In the last few months, journalists, academics, technology experts, civic-minded foundations and well-intentioned politicos have devoted decades of collective brain hours to an all-hands effort to stanch the conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods roiling our democracy.

Facebook and Google have worked up new computer formulas and dispatched dedicated teams of humans to push the corrosive stuff off their platforms or, at the very least, to let readers know when something doesn’t look right. Ad makers are pulling their advertising from sites that run false items. And educators are working up “news literacy” programs to teach students how to tell the difference between real, corroborated journalism and naked lies dressed in the colors of veracity.

But as the Seth Rich story shows, we’re going to need a bigger algorithm.

In case you haven’t been following it, the Seth Rich conspiracy holds that before his death (or, in this version of events, assassination) in July Mr. Rich had been involved in the leaking of Clinton campaign emails to WikiLeaks, which the United States intelligence community has attributed to Russian-sponsored hackers.

You can see the partisan appeal. If you don’t want to believe American intelligence assessments that the Russians were behind the breach — supposedly to help the electoral prospects of President Trump — and if you don’t like all the news about the investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, well, there’s an alternative fact set to grab onto: Mr. Rich did it and paid for it with his life.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no real evidence for the notion.

The police in Washington have theorized that a thief may have killed Mr. Rich in a botched robbery attempt.

The Rich story has been kicking around since July, but flared anew last week, when FoxNews.com and the Fox affiliate in Washington, WTTG, quoted an investigator working with the Rich family as saying that Mr. Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks before his death.

But when questioned by Oliver Darcy of CNN, the investigator acknowledged that, in fact, he had no evidence to suggest any such thing, and that he was only repeating what the FoxNews.com reporter who interviewed him about the case had told him. (Ed Butowsky, a Dallas businessman who criticized Hillary Clinton last year, acknowledged to CNN that he helped connect the investigator with the Rich family after initially denying it to NBC.)

Still, the story lived on as a meme flowing through conservative media,…

The Rosicrucian Mummies of San Jose

The following article is from the book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into California.

Zarathustra~commonswiki

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Ancient occult societies, alchemy, and magical chanting—how much do you really know about your nice neighbors in San Jose?

MUMMY DEAREST

Tucked away in an area of San Jose best known for its green lawns and high-end homes are ancient mummies of everything from cats to catfish, including a few mummified people. These mummies rest in San Jose’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum with more than 4,000 other artifacts (originals and replicas), the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in the western United States.

The museum building, designed to resemble the ancient Amon temple that once stood in Karnak, Egypt, is part of a beautiful, but somewhat baffling, complex built by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). The what? They’re a group devoted to self-improvement and the study of mysticism. Rosicrucian Park takes up an entire city block in San Jose and features a planetarium, a research library, a temple, a shrine, and a peace garden replete with Egyptian plants, a pond, and fountains. All the buildings —except the Moorish-style planetarium— have exteriors inspired by Egyptian structures.

How this blend of ancient Egypt and New Age mysticism came to be located in a San Jose suburb is a strange story. For some, it begins in 1915 when Harvey Spencer Lewis, a former advertising illustrator from New Jersey, founded the AMORC to “study the elusive mysteries of life and the universe.” For others, though, the story really begins in 1500 BC, when some of those mummies in the museum were still alive.

EGYPT, BY WAY OF GERMANY?

The AMORC is an offshoot of the Rosicrucian Society, which has puzzled, intrigued, and sometimes angered people for years. Like the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian Society has been linked to secret symbols, famous people, and conspiracy theories. The first Rosicrucians appeared in 16th-century Germany, supposedly founded by Christian Rosenkreutz. According to legend, he was both an enlightened mystic and a successful alchemist (he could turn lead into gold, though we have no idea how), so he had a lot of clout in the worlds of religion and mysticism.

But many historians now believe that Rosencreuz was a mythical figure, rather than a real person. Three pamphlets appeared in the 17th century—one about Rosencreuz, a second about his secret society, and a third about alchemy and spiritual enlightenment. No one knows exactly who wrote the pamphlets, but the authors may have been German Protestants who started the society themselves. Regardless, those pamphlets spawned elaborate legends about the Rosicrucians, elite Christian mystics who clandestinely practiced magic and alchemy while trying to bring about spiritual enlightenment. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists accused the Rosicrucians of trying…

Your Best Weird Food Habits, Securing Online Accounts From Shady Apps, and the Appeal of Conspiracy Theories

This week we confessed our favorite freaky food concoctions—think Doritos peanut butter sandwiches and buttered ramen—secured our online accounts by revoking access from shady apps, looked at the ramifications of Trump’s tax plan, and more. Here’s a look back at this week’s most popular posts.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I asked you all for your strangest, slightly-shameful, secret food habits? It turns out that you people are dirt bag geniuses, and were able to open my eyes to new and exciting ways to eat mac and cheese, instant ramen, and spam.

While cocktails aren’t exactly good for you—alcohol is a toxin after all—some drinks can be more dangerous than others. These dicey craft cocktail ingredients can be found in bars all over the place.

Of all the physical indignities of having a baby—the delivery, the breastfeeding, the mesh undies that made me feel like an enormous wounded sea creature snagged in a tiny net—the postpartum stomach pooch is among the worst.

Every once in a while, an app like Unroll.me pops into the spotlight to remind usthat we all tend to authorize a lot of apps to access our email and social media accounts without much thought. Sometimes, as in the case of Unroll.me, those apps get busy selling off our data. Now’s a good time to audit any other third-party apps you’ve given access to your accounts.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans that downs coffee or other caffeinated beverages to get through the work day, here’s some good news. A new scientific review on the safety of caffeine says drinking up to four cups of coffee, or about 400 milligrams of caffeine, is pretty safe.

We told you what to expect from…

Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Appealing

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Put on your tin-foil hat, cover your webcam with a piece of tape, and wait for the imminent arrival of the lizard people because it’s time for some conspiracy theories. Over half of American adults believe in at least one wacky theory, but why are these absurd and complex ideas are so appealing?

Many conspiracy theories appeal to the basic ways we process information. We are, for example, hard-wired to believe in intentional causality. That means that…