As is widely known, President Donald Trump is no stranger to pushing a conspiracy theory, or even making up one of his own (such as the millions of illegal aliens that voted that cost him the popular vote in the national election), but he’s found a new one that spins the seeming chaotic train of problems his administration has had during his first month in office and points the blame at his predecessor, former president Barack Obama.
Now, it is nothing new to blame one’s predecessor for general policies, legislation, and poor economic statistics on the man who was in the White House prior to the current sitting president, but it is completely another to take a conspiracy theory and attempt to give it credibility so as to make a poor showing into something excusable, not to mention Trump claiming that Obama is orchestrating the resistance protests against the Trump administration throughout the country. But that’s what Donald Trump has done, and he did it with the people that he has used as an example of good news reporting (as opposed to CNN and Buzzfeed and The New York Times, which he has referred to as “fake news”) — Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends.
Fox & Friends wasted no time getting to the gist of it, point-blank asking President Trump in the sit-down interview, “Do you think he [Obama] is behind it?”
“No, I think he is behind it. I also think it’s politics. That’s the way it is,” Trump answered.
Fox & Friends countered with, “Bush wasn’t going after Clinton, Clinton wasn’t going after Bush.”
“Well, you never know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes,” Trump replied, placing the blame on the shadowy operatives that always orchestrate events behind the scenes in a conspiracy theory. “You’re possibly right but you never know.”
If the president had stopped talking at that point, he might have gotten away with a “misspoke” explanation. But he did not. Instead, he then directly implicated the former president, including involving him in “possibly” orchestrating some of the slew of leaks spewing from the White House and several agencies.
“But I think President Obama’s behind it, because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group. You know, some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they’re very bad in terms of national security, but I also understand that’s politics. And in terms of him being behind things, that’s politics, and it will probably continue.”
President Trump is not the first person to air this particular conspiracy theory. In fact, according to Snopes, the urban myth, conspiracy theory, and hoax-busting website, it was first written about by the New York Post, then repeated by Alex Jones on his InfoWars website. The claim was that one of the reasons former President Obama never left Washington following his last day as president (like, say, to return to his home in Chicago) was to be close as his operatives, some 30,000 strong (per the Post and Jones), most of whom were part of a nationwide non-profit organization called Organizing For Action.
Snopes found the story a falsehood, noting that no credible evidence existed that former President Obama was doing anything, alone or in collusion with the Organizing For Action, to sabotage or undermine the Trump presidency and/or administration.
The National Enquirer has also reported on the subject, putting it on the front page of the tabloid last week.
President Trump has cited the National Enquirer before. In fact, during his run for the presidency, in an effort to discredit Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was an opponent for the Republican nomination, candidate Donald Trump referred several times at his rallies to the conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When chastised for the accusations, Trump simply reiterated the conspiracy theory and said that the National Enquirer was a credible source because it had been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The National Enquirer was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for its work in outing former presidential candidate and senator John Edwards in a infidelity scandal. Unfortunately, the National Enquirer historically has been labeled as a non-credible source because of its sensationalist and tabloid style.
And President Trump has been wont to promote conspiracy theories himself. The aforementioned millions of illegal alien voters that kept him from winning the popular vote, a claim he has made repeatedly, is itself unsubstantiated and has also been promoted by Alex Jones, and election commissions across the country have reported that there is no evidence of any major voting improprieties during the election.
But it was also businessman and reality show star Donald Trump that went on for years publicly questioning the citizenship of President Barack Obama (a requisite to be president of the United States), infamously crusading to expose what he claimed was Obama’s fake birth certificate. The so-called “birther” movement became such an insistent distraction that it prompted President Obama to release access to his actual birth certificate issued by the state of Hawaii. Conspiracy theorists to this day contend that the certificate released was invalid or not authentic for various reasons. Trump would move on to another Obama conspiracy theory: Obama’s college transcripts were fake.
Trump not only has a history of promoting — or at least conveying — conspiracy theories, Right Wing Watch, a website operated by the liberal nonprofit People For the American Way, reported that the then Republican presidential candidate was an habitual promoter of conspiracy theories. The activist site found and listed 58 separate conspiracy theories espoused by Trump. The site also predicted, “The number is certain to rise in the coming months.”
And so it has — with the latest being President Trump accusing former President Obama of possibly plotting with people in the current administration (and outside it) to undermine Trump and his policies.
[Featured Image Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]