I was not aware of who Louise Mensch was until commenter EigenSprocketUK pointed out that she was one of the dubious people that Bill Maher had given a platform to, and gave some background on her right-wing past. I then came across this article by Adam Johnson that says that this former UK Conservative member of parliament seems to be someone who flings around all manner of bizarre theories but that she seems to be riding the wave of the current anti-Russian zeitgeist in US liberal circles that is willing to overlook her generally reactionary views because she is saying something they like.
Here is an incomplete list of outlandish claims made by Mensch over the past six months, mostly on Twitter, that have thus far not removed her from polite society:
- ProPublica and Democracy Now! “ARE [Steve] BANNON” and are “Russian shills” (1/28/17).
- Putin may have killed Andrew Breitbart (2/24/17).
- Russia is secretly operating the public wifi networks in her neighborhood (3/3/17).
- Anthony Weiner wasn’t sexting with a 15-year-old but was set up by a Russian hacker (Patribotics, 2/24/17).
- It was probably a Russian Twitter account that sent a strobe gif to Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, causing a seizure (12/16/16).
- Putin had his own ambassador killed in Turkey in a false-flag operation (3/23/17).
- Putin played a role in the March 22 London attack (3/23/17).
- “Russian partisans were out in the street” after London attack blaming illegal immigrants (Real Time, 3/24/17).
The reality is the acceptability of conspiracy theories depends on whom the theory is directed at. The greatest, most consequential conspiracy theory of our generation was that Saddam Hussein had a secret Weapons of Mass Destruction program and was plotting to attack the US. The narrative met all the criteria for a good conspiracy theory—cherry-picked evidence, spurious dot-connecting, the rejection of inconvenient facts—but was widely embraced by most of the Western pundit class. Indeed, those who peddled it the hardest were not only allowed to remain in polite society, they were elevated to the highest positions in US media.
Like Trump, Mensch occasionally lets out a wink and a nod that she’s in on the scam, and, also like Trump, she knows her loyal, hyper-partisan followers don’t really care. She tells them what they want to hear, and they in turn feed off her increasingly tantalizing dot-connecting, each legitimizing the other.
Which would be relatively harmless if she remained in the confines of her Twitter echo chamber, but Mensch is increasingly being legitimized by mainstream centrist and liberal media, whose standards for claims of Russian skullduggery have sunk to tabloid levels. The question is: How far down the speculative rabbit hole does Mensch have to go, how extreme a conspiracy does she have to peddle, to once and for all be discredited?
What this scattershot leveling of accusations does is that even if new evidence makes even one of the claims somewhat viable, such people will claim total vindication.