With Pipe Bomb Suspect in Custody, Here Come the Conspiracy Theories

“These stickers also look like they were printed yesterday.”

WPLG-TV via AP

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As soon as federal authorities identified a suspect in connection to the pipe bombs that have been sent to prominent Democrats across the country, a familiar response kicked into gear.

Even as evidence emerged that the suspect, identified in media reports as Cesar Sayoc of Aventura, Florida, was a registered Republican with a lengthy criminal record, conspiracy theorists posited that he was a “patsy” commissioned by Democrats. Rabble rousers online quickly settled on a white van, which Florida news reports said had been surrounded by FBI agents on Friday, as an object of suspicion. (The van has not been officially connected to Sayoc.) 

Infowars, the conspiracy site owned and operated by conservative firebrand Alex Jones, published a breaking news post Friday that stated, “With perfect timing, eleven days from midterms, leftist media conveniently have their patsy driving a white van plastered with Republican stickers.” 

On his radio show, Jones, who is infamous for calling the mass shooting in Sandy Hook a “false flag” perpetrated by “crisis actors,” has been predicting for weeks that Democrats would engineer an attack and blame it on Republicans before the midterm elections. He has not provided any evidence for his theory. But as reports mounted this week of pipe bombs being sent around the country, right-wing social media accounts promoted the idea that the apparent serial bombing had been ginned up by Democrats. That notion entered the mainstream with mentions from Rush Limbaugh on his radio show and from pro-Trump pundits on Fox News.  

Laura Loomer, a right-wing provocateur who previously worked for Project Veritas, the organization that conducts sting operations to embarrass journalists suspected of liberal bias, echoed the same sentiment in a tweet claiming that the stickers on the van “look like they were printed yesterday.” 

This article is developing and will be updated as more information emerges. 

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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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