Fox News will try to make their viewers believe anything. As long a theory is in Donald Trump’s favor, the conservative news channel seems to even convince themselves of the craziest conspiracies out there.
From supporting the idea that the Parkland high school shooting survivors are “crisis actors” (page 7) to “proof” of Obama’s attempt to create an oligarchy (page 13), here’s every conspiracy theory Fox News tried to turn into reality.
1. Obama’s wiretapping
In March 2017, Trump was convinced that Obama had wiretapped his phones. The president tweeted, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Fox News was happy to run with the story. According to Newsweek, Tucker Carlson was especially supportive of the conspiracy, asserting, “Not everything the president says on Twitter is factually accurate. But to anyone who has been in Washington for a while, that claim didn’t seem crazy or really that unlikely.”
The Department of Justice confirmed no records of wiretapping existed. Nevertheless, Carlson accused anyone who dismissed Trump’s claim of “colluding with one another to lie to the public, apparently for political reasons.”
Next: Fox News was sued over pushing this conspiracy.
2. Using Seth Rich’s murder as a ‘political football’
Fox News even used the 2016 murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich to prove a conspiracy. New York Magazine explained how the network managed to make connections between Rich, WikiLeaks, Russia, and Hillary Clinton:
On May 16, 2017, less than year after Rich was killed in what police suspected was a botched robbery, Fox News published an article that said the 27-year-old was in contact with WikiLeaks before he was killed. This fueled a raft of conspiracy theories that suggested Rich was murdered by Hillary Clinton’s henchmen for leaking DNC emails to the group.
The source from the article shut this conspiracy down by arguing that he was falsely quoted. Fox News removed the article, but without an apology. Rich’s family sued the network for treating their son’s “life and legacy … as a mere political football.”
Next: This host’s accusation was proven to come from conspiracy websites.
3. Charlottesville protesters conspiracy
In August 2017, white supremacists marched the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia for a Unite the Right rally. Protesters took a stand against the alt-right, but Fox News’ Sean Hannity claimed they were “actors hired by a publicity firm.”
On his radio show, he delved into the conspiracy theory. “There’s a story out today that raises a question whether or not antifa agitators that showed up in Charlottesville on Saturday were bought and paid for.” He continued, “Apparently it was uncovered, and some of the media reported it, that some suspicious activity by an L.A.-based company that calls itself Crowds on Demand.”
According to Media Matters, “The claim seems to have originated from the fever swamp of pro-Trump online message boards and social media accounts before making its way through conspiracy websites and onto Hannity’s program.”
Next: She accused the Obamas of making this secret motion.
4. The Obamas’ ‘terrorist fist jab’
Fox News will pick apart anything the Obamas do to try to make a conspiracy out of it. After Barack and Michelle bumped each others’ fists at a campaign rally in 2008, E.D. Hill took it as an opportunity to try and convince viewers they were actually making a secret motion.
“This fist thump, is that sort of a signal that young people get?” she asked. “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently.”
Hill’s comments were so ludicrous that she publicly apologized for making them. However, this certainly wasn’t the only time Fox News tried to prove Obama’s “shady” background.
Next: Fox News wouldn’t stop trying convincing viewers of this.
5. Trying to prove Obama was Muslim
Once Fox News learned Obama’s middle name is Hussein, they were determined to make their viewers believe he was a Muslim. Gretchen Carlson brought up his middle name on Fox & Friends, where she theorizes why conservative radio host Bill Cunningham called Obama by his full name repeatedly during a segment.
Carlson suggested, “The silent thing that nobody is really talking about here is the reason that he was saying the middle name so many times … is because the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim potentially. His father was a Muslim.”
The theory gained traction among Fox News viewers, prompting Obama to release his birth certificate once and for all. Trump personally pushed for Obama’s birth certificate, noting, “Maybe it says he is a Muslim.”
Obama’s administration posted it to the White House website, yet Trump questioned its authenticity.
Next: They really wanted proof of Obama’s secrecy.
6. Obama’s birthplace
Fox News really doesn’t want Obama to be who he says he is. In line with Trump’s accusations of a fake birth certificate, he suggested that Obama’s listed birthplace of Hawaii was illegitimate.
Instead, Trump and Fox News insisted he’d actually been born in Kenya. The New York Times wrote that the conspiracy had been “nurtured … like a poisonous flower.”
Even once Trump acknowledged Obama’s U.S. citizenship during the 2016 presidential campaign, he accused Hillary Clinton of starting the whole “birtherism” conspiracy. “I finished it,’’ he insisted. “President Obama was born in the United States — period.’’
Next: They support this crazy theory about the Parkland students.
7. The media using Parkland students as ‘moral blackmail’
Fox News just can’t seem to grasp the fact that the students who survived a mass shooting are using their voices to make a change in gun control. Tucker Carlson willingly joined in on that conversation. He believes “left wing gun control activists” are using the Parkland, Florida students, according to GOP Rep. Jack Kingston.
Carlson said, “They are using these kids in a kind of moral blackmail, where you are not allowed to disagree or you are attacking the child.”
Carlson may not have outright accused the students of being “crisis actors” as District Secretary Benjamin Kelly had done, but he’s still supporting the idea. He’s suggesting that there’s a higher authority behind these students’ protests, rather than the students wanting (or having the knowledge or ability) to make a difference on their own.
Next: Fox News knew they would get reactions by using this term.
8. The ‘death panel’ rumors
Fox News knew they would get a reaction out of viewers by using the term “death panels.” According to The Oregonian, “When President Obama and congressional Democrats were working to pass the Affordable Care Act, Republicans sounded the alarm about what ‘socialized’ medicine would mean for the average American.”
That’s when they started referring to government committees as death panels, as in they were “[deciding] whether or not you deserved to receive the health care you needed to live.”
PolitiFact deemed the death panel rumors the 2009 “Lie of the Year,” but that didn’t stop Fox News from pushing that angle on their viewers.
Next: Despite growing proof, they’re calling this a witch hunt.
9. The ‘witch hunt’ against the Trump administration
As obvious as the Trump administration’s ties to Russia are, Fox News will do anything for their viewers to believe it’s “fake news.” Sean Hannity has followed in Trump’s footsteps by calling it a “witch hunt” — even as the proof becomes more obvious.
On April 10, 2018, Trump tweeted, “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!,” in regard to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his Russia ties. The president has even toyed with potentially firing Mueller, which makes it even more apparent that his administration has something to hide.
Next: This played a part in costing Hillary Clinton the presidency.
Fox News has one person to blame for the 2012 attacks against a U.S. mission in Benghazi: Hillary Clinton. It was one of the key messages during the 2016 presidential election, which ultimately kept many U.S. citizens from voting for Clinton.
According to CNN, the attacks “resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another State Department employee.” Armed militants also killed two additional Americans. Fox News accuses Clinton, who was the U.S. secretary of state at the time. They claim she provided insufficient security measures, claiming she had even tried to cover it up.
A House select committee in 2016 issued an 800-page report on Benghazi, which “contains no bombshell revelations, nor any new evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton,” CNN reported.
Next: They tied Clinton to more than one scandal.
11. Clinton’s involvement in the Uranium One deal
Benghazi wasn’t the only incident Fox News attempted to tie to Hillary Clinton. Uranium One, which was a Canadian energy company sold to a Russian firm in 2013, became a black mark on Clinton’s record.
According to The Oregonian, “Trump, Fox News pundits and others have said that the company, which controlled about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium supply at the time, bought approval of the sale by making donations to the Clinton Foundation.”
However, The New Yorker reported, “Nine government departments signed off on the transaction, and the State Department officials involved have said that Clinton played no role.”
Next: Hannity believes this was being planned against Trump.
12. A ‘soft coup’ against Trump
Hannity is convinced a “soft coup” is being planned against Trump. According to Newsweek, “He claims it is being led by the mainstream media and the intelligence community, which he said are attempting to undermine the Republican Trump’s agenda.”
Hannity is sending the message that the “deep state” (a term used to describe those in the intelligence community, the military, and other government agencies) are “leaking information about the president in order to damage him.”
Next: His argument for Obama’s oligarchy wasn’t very strong.
13. Obama’s ‘oligarhy’
Glenn Beck was set to prove a “secret code” revealed Obama was attempting to create an oligarchy in 2009. Not only was his accusation a stretch, but he misspelled the word as “oligarhy” on TV.
He circled the first letter of certain terms, which he selected himself. Those included, “Obama, left internationalist, graft, acorn style organizations, revolutionaries, hidden agendas.”
Next: He falsely credited the Obama administration for this term.
14. Sebastian Gorka’s ‘lone wolf’ accusations
While speaking with Hannity on Fox News, Sebastian Gorka used the phrase “lone wolf” to put the blame on liberals for “making terrorist attacks more likely in the U.S.”
Gorka explained, “We have to jettison this idea of a ‘lone wolf.’” He continued, “‘Lone wolf’ was invented as a phrase, was made popular by the Obama administration to make Americans disconnect the dots. There has not been significant a jihadi attack since September 11th in the United States, where one person acted completely isolated from everybody else.”
However, the Columbia Journalism Review pointed out that the Obama administration had nothing to do with coining the “lone wolf” phrase, or even making it popular. They noted, “The figurative use of ‘lone wolf’ can be traced to popular fiction.” Most noteworthy examples include H.G. Wells’s 1987 novel The Invisible Man or 1899’s Active Service, written by Stephen Crane.
Next: This wild accusation was proven wrong.
15. ‘Political correctness can kill people’
While on Fox & Friends, Gorka claimed one thing is to blame for the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, California: Political correctness.
“Political correctness can kill people,” he explained. “We know in San Bernardino that the neighbors of the killers saw suspicious activity but refused to report it because they were afraid of being called racist or islamophobes.”
However, according to PolitiFact, “We looked for any reports of the neighbors saying they had an inkling of any plans for an attack. We didn’t find any. We did find second-hand reports that weren’t well sourced, and these were repeated primarily on right-leaning news websites.”
Read more: The Dumbest Moments in Fox News History
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