Conspiracy theorizing hasn't had this big a day in the mainstream since Aunt May won best actress for My Cousin Vinny, but if you were to go by the "well I never" response in the media for a Trump retweet of a #ClintonBodyCount conspiracy theory following the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, you'd think his was the first and only example.
By a tremendous margin and several hours of feeding frenzy, his was by far not unique or first. In fact, it wasn't even that remarkable.
The tweet hit all the big hashtags of the day, including #TrumpBodyCount, interestingly. But the "we know who did this" formula here is hardly out of the ordinary for Saturday's festival of finger pointing. In fact, the text was downright average.
The tweet from Terrence Williams did, though, include video, which included lines like, "now for some odd reason, people that have information on the Clintons end up dead. And they usually die from suicide. Come on, now." He also said never to tell him anything about the Clintons because he doesn't want to "end up dead."
"I don't even want to know if Hillary was digging in her nose, I don't want to know if Bill Clinton eat boogers," says Williams in the video. "I don't want to end up dead."
The Clinton conspiracy theory raged all day on Twitter, from thousands of accounts, both blue check and not, though aside from President Trump it didn't get many takers in what you'd call the mainstream. But it wasn't the only conspiracy theory floating around. There was another one, and it had exactly what you'd call mainstream takers.
NBC News tweeted their article about the Trump retweet. It had the promising-for-the-MSM tagline "President Trump contributes to the rampant promotion of conspiracy theories after Jeffrey Epstein's death." That might lead you to believe that NBC News covered the wide swatch of conspiracy theorizing overtaking social media for hours on end.
The article by Jane C. Timm and Liz Johnstone doesn't mention the other conspiracy theories at all. They call out Trump, and the entire #ClintonBodyCount hashtag, but despite the #TrumpBodyCount one being IN THE TWEET he retweeted, it got no mention in the article. Keep in mind, that hashtag was trending in the United States all day.
Likewise, they didn't mention the hashtag #BarrCoverUp, which was also trending all day.
Also the NBC article didn't mention Patricia Arquette. Or this producer for Ellen. Or resistance tweeter Seth Abramson. Or National Memo editor Joe Conason. Or big time producer/director and political podcaster Brian Koppelman.
Did the media mention popular progressive talk radio host Thom Hartmann offering a far more blatant finger-pointing than the Trump retweet? Or how about the almost 700 people who retweeted Hartmann?
This doesn't even get to the more careful implications, like John Asbury and Newsday.
Epstein’s suicide comes less than 24 hours after hundreds of documents released in a deposition alleging a sex ring… https://t.co/2l0KKVPe4q— John Asbury (@John Asbury)1565469742.0
The right's "Clintons suicide people who have dirt on them" is one of the oldest conspiracy tropes there is. I've been hearing it since I was fresh out of boot camp and that was LONG time ago. On Saturday, the #ClintonBodyCount folks had a field day. Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom, joined the frenzy.
But Trump waded in late. As thousands of people, including yours truly, noted the theorizing from both sides was, to borrow NBC's unfulfilled tweet promise, rampant. It even included notable Trump official Lynne Patton.
But if you aren't on social media, if you only catch cable news or read the papers, you'd think that Trump was a lone gunman firing off wild conspiracy theories from a grassy Twitter knoll, whilst horrified and almost all out of gasps Democrats innocently looked on.
That is absolutely not the case. What's more, and you can bet money on this, in a few days it will become even more acceptable to imply Trump had Epstein offed. In a few weeks, it will be "accepted as fact" casual conversation.
Just you watch.