Conspiracy Watch: Operation Couch Potato

Does the government know you’re addicted to <span style="font-style:normal !important;">Gossip Girl</span>?

Illustration: Peter Hoey

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


The latest installment in our ongoing collection of wonderfully weird (and totally whack) conspiracy theories. Find more Conspiracy Watch entries here.

THE CONSPIRACY: Is the government dropping $2 billion on digital television converter boxes just so we can watch American Idol in high definition? No way. The real reason for the June 12 transition from analog TV is so that the feds can secretly monitor every household in the country—and eventually the world. Hidden cameras inside converter boxes and hi-def LCD screens will allow the government and corporate America to peer into our living rooms in search of thought crimes and valuable information about our consumer preferences. And you thought the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program was bad.

THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: Radio host and 9/11 Truther Alex Jones says digital home surveillance plans have been in the works for years. In February, someone posted a YouTube clip of a Magnavox digitial converter being taken apart, revealing a tiny camera and a microphone inside. This prompted Jones’ InfoWars.com to predict “the ultimate Big Brother scenario whereby the majority of Americans and Europeans will have Orwellian telescreens watching their every move.” A video on the site warns, “All the world’s TV’s [sic] will be able to be operated by 1 computer in 1 room.”

MEANWHILE, BACK ON EARTH: The YouTuber later admitted that the video was a hoax. That hasn’t stopped doubters from posting videos in which they describe the dangers of hi-tech surveillance—to the tiny cameras on top of their computer screens.

Kookiness Rating: Tin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat Small (1=maybe they’re on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate