Of all the dangerous conspiracy theories on the right, the ones that become widespread among their viewers and end up harming the families of people who have died are some of the saddest, just like the Sandy Hook shootings, the Seth Rich conspiracy, and the latest, the death of an aide to former U.S. Representative and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
While Trump had previously brought up the 19-year-old case of a young woman who died while working in Scarborough’s office during his time in Congress, he has pushed the conspiracy even harder lately on Twitter, saying that police needed to open a “cold case investigation” into her death. Trump, Jr., always a fan of a good and harmful conspiracy theory, was quick to tweet about the claim on his own Twitter account. His claim prompted the widower of the young staffer to request that Twitter remove the false claims.
In the letter, the widower explained that his wife’s death was shown in an autopsy to have resulted from an undiagnosed heart condition. There is nothing to “get to the bottom” of, and he explained how hurtful the lies are.
‘The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.’
Trump’s claim, repeated by his press secretary on Tuesday, that Scarborough laughed about the staffer’s death is disproven by video of the interview.
Press Secretary Kaitlyn McEnany defended the president’s actions during a press conference, deflecting and ignoring reporters who insisted that a president tweeting accusations of murder to 80 million followers is quite different than a radio host laughing on his show. Like his former press secretaries, McEnany stuck to the “what about” script.
In a transcript of Tuesday’s press conference, a reporter was shown to have asked:
‘Why is the president making these unfounded allegations? I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn’t it? The president’s accusing somebody of possibly murder. The family is pleading with the president to the please stop founded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing that?’
McEnany responded by saying:
Well I would note that the president said this morning that this is not an original Trump thought and it is not. In fact, 2003 on Don Imus’s show, it was Don Imus and Joe Scarborough that joked about killing an intern. Joked and laughed about it. So that was I’m sure pretty hurtful to Lori’s family and Joe Scarborough himself brought this up with Don Imus and Joe Scarborough himself can answer it.
McEnany’s former employer, Fox News, has had no problem pushing conspiracy theories that harm mourning families, as evidenced by their airing of conspiracy theories about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, promoted by – and eventually walked back after Fox News admitted that there was no evidence to support their claims – host Sean Hannity, who is reportedly cheering Trump’s Scarborough attacks on.
Featured image screenshot via YouTube