THE FRONT DOOR – Who could be ringing my doorbell at this hour? I was just sitting down to watch re-runs of “My Mother The Car,” and now this interruption. I open the door and a man, I guess it’s a man, is standing there, wearing a trench coat with the collar turned up, a fedora pulled low, and sunglasses, at 11 p.m. He looks over both his shoulders. “The feather is in the Mason jar.” I look at him strangely. He speaks again. “There are no mongooses in Pampa.” I start to shut the door. He takes a piece of paper out of his pocket. “Is it mongeese?” My patience is worn out. “Go away. I think you have the wrong house.”
The mysterious visitor asks, “This isn’t 123 Pothole Place? No? Then I’ll have to kill you.” He reaches in his coat pocket and pulls out a small bag of Fritos. “Oops, wrong coat. But maybe you’ll do. I’m called Grassy Knoll. First, a few questions to see if you’re, uh, one of us. You know that 9/11 was staged by the Pentagon, and that no one ever saw John Wilkes Booth and Vice President Andrew Johnson at the same time?”
“Hold it!” I say. “You must be one of those conspiracy nut cakes, always finding hidden meanings and spreading false theories. You probably believe that Hillary Clinton didn’t actually win the most popular votes, but Deep State fixed the ballot counting.” He frowns. “How did you know that? It’s supposed to be a secret. But, yes, it’s true. Deep State is made up of former Obama appointees dead set to ruin Trump’s agenda. And Robert Mueller is one of them. So is Edgar Maddison Welch. He only shot up that pizza parlor in Chevy Chase because Elvis sent secret radio waves to him, charging that the Comet Ping Pong Restaurant held children in secret tunnels in the basement, complete with satanic rituals and sex trafficking. The fact that the restaurant had no basement was just more fake news.”
I start to shut the door. “I know there have always been crackpots like you, believing and spreading conspiracies. But now you nut jobs are out of control. You claim that the Sandy Point massacre was a fake because Alex Jones, that crazy guy on Infowars, said so. The parents of those poor kids killed in the massacre are suing him. But Jones has gotten rich by constantly pitching health products, conspiracy lies and end-of-the-world tales. The depressing part is that Jones could appeal to his knuckle-dragging audience from anywhere, but he felt he would be most comfortable in – ta-da! –Texas, specifically Austin. Which reminds me of another snake oil salesman, Glenn Beck. He also preaches fear and conspiracies without an ounce of proof, and from where? Dallas. What is it about our beloved state that attracts loonies?”
“Texas is ground zero for the truth that the Mainstream Media is trying to suppress. We have proof that vaccinations cause autism. Texans believe it, so the state has one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates. Did you know that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia was murdered, and where? In Texas, just like JFK. Coincidence? I think not. And remember that it was Texas’ top elected official, Governor Greg Abbott, who called out the State Guard to keep an eye on the U.S. Army which was staging Operation Jade Helm 15, a transparent attempt to seize your weapons and take over the state. They would have succeeded except for Abbott’s courageous actions.” Why is it so easy to spread untruths, especially in Texas? Remember that those two Russian agents looked all over America seeking the best place to spread their divisive lies, and they chose Texas.
I shut the door and turn on the TV. “It is clear that Nancy Pelosi is drunk or on drugs. Notice how she slurs her words.” I should never watch Fox News. Did you know that Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, was killed by Democratic operatives because he had leaked DNC emails that were embarrassing to then-candidate Hillary Clinton? Sean Hannity said so on Fox News time and again until the network suits told him to stop because it was untrue, and Fox retracted the story.”
Conspiracies and unfounded rumors can make someone rich. Fox has the highest ratings of any TV cable news network, sometimes equaling all the competition totaled. And the hatemongers and misinformation spreaders do very well. It is estimated that Hannity’s total wealth is $220 million. Rush Limbaugh comes in at $500 million, Laura Ingraham at $70 million. Tucker Carlson’s total wealth is a measly $16 million. Once they plant a seed of falsehood, it takes on a life of its own. Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” It’s also smart to plant a lie that begins with just a smack of truth, that way we swallow the whole thing.
My doorbell is ringing again. It’s him. “Hi, I’m from Gallup and we’re taking a survey. Would you say Nancy Pelosi is a traitor, on drugs, a drunk or all of the above?” I glower at him. “You are not from Gallup, you’re a paranoid nutcase, and your numbers seem to be growing the closer we get to the 2020 elections. Are black helicopters still chasing you?”
“That’s so two thousand ten. Now it’s drones, black drones. I suppose you really believe that the Malaysian Airlines plane disappeared only one ocean away from Amelia Earhart was just a coincidence? Princess Diana was murdered by the CIA. You know that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Got that straight from the First Orange. Actually that alternative truth was his initial foray into political truths that the fake news dismisses as conspiracies. Why is it that no one ever saw Lee Harvey Oswald and LBJ at the same time?”
Ashby conspires at firstname.lastname@example.org