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How the conspiracy theory Seth Rich put Trump in the White House

The Seth Rich conspiracy theory, a weak point in the same far-right conspiracy industrial complex that gave us "Sandy Hook's shooting was a fake flag," is back in the news. A Yahoo! A report by Michael Isikoff traces the Russian origins of the claim that Rich – a member of the Democratic National Committee murdered during a likely robbery in Washington in July 2016 – was in fact attacked by Hillary Clinton because that he was about to denounce it alleged corruption.

This disgusting conspiracy theory, which created an incalculable amount of grief for Rich's family, has been exploited by all sorts of bad actors working to help Donald Trump, including WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, the former advisor and chief. Trump campaign, Steve Bannon and Fox News experts, Sean Hannity, a friend very close to Trump.

As soon as Isikoff's report – which explains how the Russian propagandists published the conspiracy theory just three days after Rich's death and continued to work for his promotion – was published, a heated debate broke out on the verge of to know if it was right to blame the Russians. Philip Bump of the Washington Post argued that this was not the case, since US sources have also spread this baseless assumption and that it is mainly American conservatives (with Assange's help ) who promoted it the most.

This debate, however, lacks an overview. It's clear that both Russian propagandists and pro-Trump (or anti-Clinton) forces are to blame for this rancorous but terribly popular work of fiction. Most importantly, this ad hoc grassroots association to condemn Clinton to Rich's murder worked exactly as planned and played a decisive role in Trump's shocking election victory in 2016. There is every reason to believe that similar alliances between Russian propagandists and undemocratic forces in the US States will try to achieve similar stunts in 2020.

While the Seth Rich conspiracy theory was mainly defended by the American right, it is essential to understand that the most important public, perhaps even surprising, was the leftist one. It was part of a larger operation, largely run by the Russian intelligence services, to convince some supporters of Bernie Sanders, who lost the 2016 Democratic primary, not to vote for Clinton in the general election, giving a crucial advantage to Trump. This propaganda campaign was without a doubt a resounding success for the Russia-Trump alliance.

Most of the campaign to influence Sanders supporters focused on Russia's hacking emails from DNC officials and the Clinton campaign, as well as their strategic spread via WikiLeaks. The idea was to give the impression that Sanders would have or should have won the Democratic nomination, if only the DNC had not "rigged" the race or sabotaged his campaign. Hackers discovered that it was a thin layer of oatmeal – mainly a series of emails from DNC administrators insulting the way Sanders and his campaign had publicly denigrated them – and there was no evidence that substantial efforts hindered or helped Clinton in any way.

But the truth was unimportant, as good propagandists know. What matters is what people want to believe, and many dedicated Sanders fans desperately wanted to believe that his loss was the result of cheating. Thus, when the hacked emails were broadcast, at the very beginning of the Democratic National Convention, conspiracy theories claiming that the main campaign had been "rigged" quickly spread without control by getting rid of the handful of people who had bothered to read the alleged evidence.

For those of us who were at the DNC, what happened next was unforgettable. Hundreds, if not thousands of Sanders delegates booed everyone who came on stage for the first day of the convention, drowning them and creating a disturbing show of disarray for the TV show. They even booed Bernie Sanders himself, when he tried to discourage conspiracy theories. As the convention finally recovered and Clinton delivered his acceptance speech last night in an atmosphere of relative unity, it was clear that, for a small percentage of Sanders voters, the belief that they had been stolen was precious.

This is where the Seth Rich conspiracy theory comes in. This is not just because it has helped create an atmosphere of suspicion around Clinton. It also helped to reinforce and protect the conspiracy theory that the primary was "rigged" by giving true believers a person other than the Russians to boast about the anti-DNC conspiracy theories.

It is essential to understand that when WikiLeaks published hacked emails, it was already clear that the probable source was the Russian intelligence services. Trump himself acknowledged it by publicly calling the Russians to hack Clinton personally in the month before the big pre-DNC leak. (They tried, but eventually failed.) But as Assange, the right-wing propagandists and apparently the Russian ghosts themselves understood, it would be easier for Sanders supporters to accept the propaganda Russian if she believed that it came from another source. For example, a member of the DNC staff who had died and therefore could not defend themselves.

The idea that Rich, not the Russians, was behind the hacked emails of the DNC spread quickly. As Isikoff notes, Sputnik and RT, which are Russian-language propaganda networks in English, have been widely publicized. Assange himself, who actually received e-mails from Russian sources, told this lie about Rich in August 2016. Even though the biggest supporters were right-wing sources, the most important audience for this Affirmation was no doubt Sanders' supporters who were angry at his defeat and looking for reasons not to vote for Clinton in November.

Most of Sanders' primary voters eventually voted for Clinton in general elections, but a significant portion did not vote, despite grievances sown by these conspiracy theories stifled by Russia. A study conducted in 2017 showed that 12% of Sanders primary voters voted for Trump in the general election, while another large group of Sanders voters voiced support for the Green Party supporter. , Jill Stein, who earned just over 1% of the total votes.

These figures may seem small, but they were significant in an election where Clinton easily won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College with a total margin of less than 80,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The number of people who voted for Stein in these three states was well above Trump's margin of victory. If Sanders' supporters who voted for Trump had preferred to stay in Clinton, she would certainly have won all three states.

Now, here's an important caveat: Without the conspiracy theory surrounding Rich's death, could Clinton have convinced all Sanders supporters to support her? Probably not. They were sensitive to the conspiracy theory in the first place because they were angry at their beloved candidate lost and that they were looking for a reason to deny that the primary had been a fair fight. But it seems certain that the conspiracy theories greatly increased the size of the contingent of the big losers. Without this aspect – let's say, if half of Sanders to Trump's voters had voted for Clinton (and if others had stayed home) – it is highly likely that Hillary Clinton would be president today. hui.

The Seth Rich conspiracy theory came to life after the elections. While stronger evidence emerged to prove that the hacking of the DNC was the result of a Russian conspiracy, the two right-wing agitators like Hannity and the leftist Clinton haters felt the need to deny that they had been duped or complicit in a Moscow plot. The theory eventually disappeared over time, especially when the report of special advocate Robert Mueller conclusively stated that Rich had nothing to do with the email hacks of the DNC.

But what this new story shows is that it is imperative that journalists and progressives do not forget what happened in 2016. It is absolutely certain that Trump and his followers – here at home and in secret premises in St. Petersburg – will try to make the same fate. types of stuff in 2020. Whoever is the Democratic nominee – yes, even if it's Bernie Sanders – this person will be subject to conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns aimed at likely Democrat voters , in order to discourage participation or encourage negative voting for a third party or even Trump himself.

Trump is a disgusting candidate who has no contact with his fiercely loyal base. So, his only way to win in 2020 is to divide the left, as he did – with the help of strangers – in 2016. If people do not learn the lessons of piracy from the DNC and the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, it could work for all. again.

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