Right-Wing Commentators Have Already Decided the Explosive Packages Are a False Flag

That didn’t take long.

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Shortly after news broke of explosive devices being sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, CNN, and others, far-right conspiracy site Infowars ventured a guess as to what happened.

“Breaking! Alex Jones Predicted False Flag Attack to Blame Patriots,” read the top headline Wednesday morning on Infowars, which Jones owns and operates. 

That conspiratorial view was parroted by other right-wing figures on social media—some of whom quickly deleted their messages—as details trickled out Wednesday morning about the devices. 

Conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter said he doesn’t “buy this super convenient turn of events,” while Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, called the packages a “political stunt” given the “suspicious timing” of Wednesday’s news and an earlier incident involving a pipe bomb that had been placed in Democratic donor George Soros’ home mailbox. The Daily Beast captured Flynn’s tweets before he deleted some of his posts. “I don’t know if it’s a false flag,” Flynn clarified in a follow-up tweet.

Frank Gaffney, the founder of right-wing think tank Center for Security Policy, said none of the targets “were actually at serious risk” and that the perpetrator may have been “trying to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.” (In his recent rallies, Trump has described liberal activists as an “angry, left-wing mob.”) 

Ann Coulter, another popular pro-Trump commentator, called bombs “a liberal tactic” and invoked domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, known as the “Unabomber,” and the 19th-century Haymarket riot, where a labor protest in Chicago turned deadly after a bomb went off. 

Conservative businessman and radio personality Bill Mitchell, a fervent defender of Donald Trump on Twitter, said the packages were “Pure BS.” The incident had “Soros astro-turfing written all over it so the media can paint” the Republican Party as “dangerous,” he said.  

The messaging board 4chan, a hotbed of pro-Trump memes and an incubator for far-right conspiracy theories, embraced the “false flag” narrative Wednesday, with some users even explicitly crediting Jones for having “predicted” the threat. 

John Cardillo, a host on Newsmax, a conservative media outlet run by Trump golfing buddy Christopher Ruddy, said investigators should look at “far left groups” who “know they’re losing.” He later deleted his tweet, adding, “We have no idea who sent the bombs. None. Investigators need to look at the left, right, center, and non-political.”

The misinformation shows no sign of abating. Later on Wednesday, the lead story on Infowars received a new headline accompanied by a garish image of “False Flag” in bloody lettering. 

This headline promised viewers that a deep-state-led “false flag” plot designed “to blame Trump and pro-America forces” had been “confirmed.” The site offered no evidence to back up its apparent conclusion.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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