What he does read

People who know Trump say he won’t read anything that’s not about him – so it’s hopeless trying to get him to read, say, the Constitution, or intelligence briefings, or books about foreign policy or law or human rights or economics or history or anything else of that kind. But there are apparently a few exceptions, and one of them is InfoWars. That appears to be where he got his claim that news outlets are deliberately not reporting Islamist violence.

the kernel of the idea appears to have come from — or at least been propagated by — one of his favorite news sources: the conspiracy theory website InfoWars.

As @UrbanAchievr noted after Trump’s comments, InfoWars has been barking up this tree for a while now. A sampling of its headlines:

  • “FAKE NEWS: MAINSTREAM MEDIA WHITEWASHES ISLAMIC TERROR IN BERLIN: Propagandists desperate to hide the obvious” — Dec. 20
  • “SCANDAL: MASS MEDIA COVERS UP TERRORISM TO PROTECT ISLAM” — July 29
  • “GERMANY COVERING UP TERROR PLOTS TO PROTECT MUSLIM MIGRANTS” — June 24

And so on.

Former congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) has also pushed this idea, posting a video from InfoWars back in August under the headline, “TERROR ATTACK: Massive media cover-up.” And it’s a theme that has cropped up on other conspiracy theory and right-wing websites from time to time.

The idea of the media covering up or not fully covering terrorist attacks was around before InfoWars picked it up, though. Conservatives have long accused the media of obscuring the details and motivations of radical Islamic terrorists in an effort to downplay the role of religion.

I think there’s a little bit of truth in that – I think many in the media are cautious about how they word their reporting because they don’t want to set off attacks on Muslims as a group. That’s not a bad or sinister motivation.

This caution also prompts some editorialists to avoid discussion of Islamism as an ideology. I do think that’s a big mistake, however decent the motivations.

But that’s not the same as not reporting, and it’s just obviously not the case that Everything Is Being Hidden.

And the idea that Trump got this from InfoWars is hardly far-fetched. Many of Trump’s conspiracy theories originate or at least involve InfoWars. And Trump has made no apologies for tying himself to the website and its founder, Alex Jones. In December 2015 — in the thick of his GOP primary campaign — Trump actually appeared on Jones’s show.

“Your reputation’s amazing,” Trump told Jones on his show. “I will not let you down. You will be very, very impressed, I hope, and we’ll be speaking a lot. … A year into office, you’ll be saying, ‘Wow, I remember that interview. He said he was going to do it, and he did a great job.'”

InfoWars has helped propagate the baseless theory that millions of people illegally voted, depriving Trump of a popular-vote win. It was a major player in pushing the birther conspiracy. It was an early player in the “Hillary for Prison” game, having started selling t-shirts bearing the slogan in the fall of 2015. And it has pushed the baseless idea that Muslims cheered in the streets on 9/11.

All of these have also been embraced by Trump, and now it appears we can add one more to the list.

It’s ok, though, because he will bring millions of jobs to small towns in West Virginia. You watch.

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