How did we get here?

“Here” is a country where millions believe in loony conspiracy theories and vote for a fascist like Trump, and yet they close their eyes to black clad militarized police whisk citizens off the street into unmarked cars. We’ve become simultaneously hyperconscious of outrageous nonsense promoted on the internet, and desensitized to it. Well, most of us are desensitized — about 30% seem to have become the base of the Republican party.

There’s a lot of blame to go around. This documentary pins it on a couple of sources: Alex Jones and Roger Stone, and the conscienceless, manipulatory algorithms of YouTube and Facebook that enabled these terrible people, culminating in the election of Donald Trump. I think there are even more people responsible, but this is a good start.

Almost an hour of concentrated Jones and Stone is agonizing, but sit through it and bear the suffering. There’s a deep injustice here, that Noah Pozner’s parents get to suffer while Alex Jones got rich, and Trump got the presidency. Fox News is the mainstream version of Alex Jones.


  1. unclefrogy says

    that was a long hour
    yes they all of them are rotten parasites contributing nothing positive. What wasn’t addressed much was how their lies have enough appeal that they could capture(subvert) a political party so thoroughly.
    I probably need to watch it again it was hard to concentrate while getting angry and depressed and pacing back and
    uncle frogy

  2. kkehno says

    Not relevant to the topic but the music video some person made about Alex Jones and gay frog is just superb. Makes it bit more easier when having to cope that he be serious.

  3. says

    “manipulatory algorithms of YouTube and Facebook that enabled these terrible people,”
    Well said.
    Here we are in 2020 and more people think the Earth is flat now than 1000 years ago. Antivaxers are causing real harm to other people and their children. And 5G apparently cooks your brain/causes cancer/COVID or something like that. The algorithms amplify this garbage as long as it makes money. There is a percentage of the population who want to believe these fantasies, so they do. The algorithms don’t care about the damage caused, and the Board of Directors only care about money. If these corporations were people they would be complete sociopaths. Zero empathy. All for me. These are the real monsters of the 21st century.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    One of the more disgusting lies Jones has spread during the pandemic is that the hospitals are really empty and that, to pass the time, health care workings are using them to throw drug-and-sex filled orgies. Anyone who comes for help is falsely declared COVID-19 positive and then murdered on a ventilator so the doctors can collect the insurance/Medicare money. Of course, Jones offers NO evidence for these accusations.

    He would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that so many irrational and heavily-armed people believe him. Jones is going to get someone killed, and not just from the virus.

  5. hemidactylus says

    Some of the same tropes go back to Adams v Jefferson. Outsiders (the Jacobins) are run by a nefarious cabal (Bavarian Illuminati) and are infiltrating the US. The enemy (Jefferson) is in cahoots.

    Ironically it flipped and the libertarian Jeffersonian freedom fighters who refuse to wear masks are now accusing the stronger central government proponents (Hamiltonian Federal Reservists and other Federalists) of being Illuminati stooges.

    From what I understand of them, though secretive and esoteric, the freethought promoting Illuminati were the short-lived heroes of the much distorted narrative being a despised outgroup in Catholic Bavaria. Freethinkers or illuminated secular humanists are still thought to have an outsized influence on ‘Merka.

    The Bilderbergs are an exclusive club of elite that meets to discuss stuff of importance in the European-North American sphere, especially pertinent in post WWII era of an emerging Cold War. How much consensus did they really have or influence did they wield compared to their bogey status amongst Jones and his ilk? Zbig’s Trilateral Commission was an offshoot of the same elite outlook which included Asian interests. Huntington’s position paper on excess democracy was a bad optic for sure, but again how much consensus or influence? Zbig would go on under Carter to spearhead our problematic response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Now surely one could be critical of Bilderberg and Trilat elitism without delving into centuries old conspiracy theories casting blame for the frickin’ French Revolution.

    One could also wonder why some people had set aside a stand of redwoods to frolic in and that elitists are still partying there. Easy enough to construct a wackaloon narrative about Bohemian Grove. Weird scene. That much is true.

    And on another conspiratorial tangent despite the leftist narrative about the administrative state (eg- Althusser’s ISA and RSA) and rightist parallel about the “deep state“, there is much to be said in favor of careerist technocrats and stable institutional continuity and memory (“the swamp” bogey).

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Almost an hour of concentrated Jones and Stone is agonizing, but sit through it and bear the suffering.

    If you want to keep track of Jones’ bullshit, fact check his claims, and generally make fun of him without going down the disinfo-wars rabbit hole, I highly recommend the Knowledge Fight podcast.

  7. brucej says

    The President of the United States is endorsing a doctor who claims that Hydroxy SuperBonerPills300, excuse me ‘hydroxychloriquine’ as a soverign cure for COVID-19. When confronted with the truth he continues to support her.

    She also belives that scientists have discovered a ‘gene in your brain’ that makes you religious, and that they’re making a vaccine against it. (to which my darling snarky wife immediately said “Where’s the GoFundMe???” ) and that dream sex with demons causes ovarian cysts. (and her group is being funded by big-money GOP donors! )

    Sadly that President’s name is NOT Dwayne Elizonado Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, but Donald John Trump.

    At least President Camacho was finally willing to listen to someone smarter than him when faced with a crisis he couldn’t handle….

  8. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The thing that frustrates me about the Never Trumper Rethugs is that they simply do not see how the central core of Republican ideology makes their descent into insanity inevitable. The basic tenet of the party’s platform is that “businessmen” should be able to hold onto every last penny they can claw away from the grasp of the public at large–indeed, that the public at large owes it to the businessmen to subsidize their outrageous compensation. This is why, regardless of the problem, their answer is “more tax cuts”.
    Such a platform is necessarily going to appeal to a minority of voters, and so the only hope they have of remaining in power is to ally themselves to increasingly fringe, single-issue voters and to suppress as much as possible the votes of the majority. And so they embrace the Southern secessionists (Nixon’s Southern Strategy), the forced-birthers, the religious right, the gun humpers and most recently, the hard-core white supremacists. And as their big tent becomes ever more crowded with loons, they look around to try and figure out how to suppress the majority even more so they don’t have to ally with even loonier contingents.

    The Never Trumpers and the Lincoln Project think that if they can just get rid of Trump, they’ll be back to the glory days of St. Ronny or even Goldwater, who at least claimed to have a conscience. They don’t realize that the looniness isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

  9. says

    @5 Nixon said of Bohemian Grove “The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time—it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine.”

    @7 At least President Camacho could accept that he couldn’t handle the crisis.

  10. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Yup. The Jeffersonians made equally weird claims about the Federalists–e.g. that Adams was plotting to give the new country back to England. Somewhat ironic, given that Jefferson’s VEEP and sometime ally Aaron Burr actually made such overtures. The conspiracy theories published in the Aurora by Bache would have made Alex Jones say, “Whoa, Dude.”

  11. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin agrees the hypothesis that much of higher-levels of government and corporations, plus everyone who likes peas or horses, are — like the entirety of the churches & cults for centuries now — are, in fact, alien Reptilians does explain a lot. However, she’s been in contact with the Reptilians, specifically their Ambassador to Mars (South), who have assured her the most they are doing is observing from a distance. A rather great distance, apparently, the Ambassador is less-than-keen at how close Mars is to Earth.

    That suggests a rouge faction of Reptilians, such as the bunch who believe in peace, free love, drinking lots of cheese, and eating wine to excess. Since they are a bit confused about certain essential foodstuffs, they aren’t very good at producing same. Hence, they use their ability to occupy other lifeforms’s bodies to convince the occupied ones to stop fighting & raping, grow more cheese (sustainably), and mine (sustainably) for wine. These suggestion can confuse the unoccupied-locals, especially the nonsense about not fighting and strictly-consensual sex.

    She (the mildly deranged penguin) suggests this is what has happened, and it’s mostly going to plan, albeit some adjustments are perhaps necessary, such as furthering lower the estimated intelligence of the occupied locals from the current setting of zero (dumb as rock (apologies to all rocks, lava, and meteorites)).

  12. Artor says

    Uncle Froggy @1
    The RWNJs didn’t capture the GOP. The GOP made a conscious decision to court them as their base, and contributed to their further departure from reality, since they can be lied to so easily. This, despite many warnings of what would happen, and now the party apparatus has lost control. The Teabaggers ran off the last few sane-adjacent Republicans, and now there is nobody left in the party to put on the brakes.

  13. fossboxer says

    I love Frontline. Have for years. But this one … I just … I can’t do it. I just can’t. The bits and bobs of your forum is about all I can bear anymore. The country’s gone mad and all I have left in my few remaining years are some ballot votes of questionable relevance and this flimsy bubble.

  14. hemidactylus says

    Interesting Jon Ronson is on the documentary. He infiltrated Bohemian Grove at the same time as Jones. He details the scene in * Them: Adventures with Extremists*.

    I just got to the point (~49:50) where he invokes the 50s anticommunist ChiCom trope. Are we still dwelling on who lost China? No we are blaming them for the virus conveniently overlooking Trump’s inept response. I had heard some GOP talking heads invoking “ChiCom” or the Chinese Communist government as if that is the most salient point to make about the pandemic.

  15. stroppy says

    I almost watched it last night, but by the time it came on I was so burned out from the day’s nonsense that I skipped it.

    A little OT, but regarding where we are… The A1 on Monday went “there” and discussed the F word (the other one).
    I think this is the first time The A1 has aired a program where all the participants, despite their different takes on the subject, all pretty much agreed openly that Trump is a real and dangerous problem for democracy in America.

    Worth a listen.

  16. tacitus says

    The worst could be yet to come. Jones has spent years priming his audience with the expectation that a vaccine will be used to deliver some form of mind control or infertility drug as part of the endgame of the New World Order, and he’s been pushing the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 is the first part of an engineered binary bioweapon, designed to prime our nervous system for receiving the second part — i.e. the “so-called” vaccine — which will deliver the main payload designed to pacify and subjugate us.

    Fauci and others have already express concern over the likely shortfall in uptake of any new Covid-19 vaccine in this country meaning we might not even get to herd immunity. Jones is doing his best to make that happen.

  17. tacitus says

    By the way, the national GOP platform has actually contained a conspiracy theory since 2012 — namely their official opposition to “Agenda 21” (and more recently “Agenda 2030”) which is nothing more than an aspirational set of guidelines designed to encourage communities (especially in poorer nations) to use sustainable development practices, but is believed by many Republicans to be a subversive attempt by the United Nations to take over the USA… (“Blue helmets roaming the streets”) somehow…

  18. nomdeplume says

    For some reason, looking at that photo, the phrase “The Ugly American” comes to mind…

  19. jrkrideau says

    Here we are in 2020 and more people think the Earth is flat now than 1000 years ago
    Has anybody checked the figures outside the USA bubble?

  20. says

    “But I don’t believe we’ll be able to rent an entire fleet of cement mixers in time for the next protest, Brain! Naarf

  21. says

    I’m always surprised by the fact that the more horrible the conspiracy theory, the more effort people are willing to put into believing it. They wish it were true, for example, that there existed a powerful international cabal of Jews/Satanists/Liberals who are enslaving & eating children. That’s the kind of world in which they want to live. Blows my mind.