Another conspiracy theory bites the dust

ANOTHER CONSPIRACY THEORY BITES THE DUST…. Late last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Goldman Sachs, alleging fraud. Congressional Republicans and their allies aren’t exactly defending the Wall Street powerhouse, but they’re complaining about the timing.

Starting Monday, the conservative line took shape — the Obama administration went after Goldman to make Wall Street look bad, which in turn might help generate support for the financial regulatory reform bill pending in the Senate. The right has trumpeted the argument all week.

On its face, the conspiracy theory is pretty silly. Putting aside the fact that there’s literally zero evidence that political considerations influenced the SEC move, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the fraud investigation began before President Obama even took office. What’s more, the SEC warned Goldman nine months ago that charges were likely, and SEC officials could not have known last July the probe might have a political impact now.

But the Republican Attack Machine keeps repeating the claim, which means major media outlets keep spreading the nonsense. It led SEC chair Mary Shapiro and President Obama to both categorically dismiss the conspiracy theory as baseless.

But wait, conservatives say, there might be proof. Apparently, the DNC bought Google ads related to Goldman Sachs and the fraud allegations the same day as the SEC filing. Maybe, Republicans argue, the DNC had advance notice, which would prove coordination and bolster the political conspiracy.

Except that’s wrong, too.

The GOP case is based partly on the fact that the DNC used Google Adwords to bid on the search terms “Goldman Sachs” and “SEC” soon after the charges were filed on Friday – meaning that whenever a person searched Google for those terms, they also viewed targeted ads for a DNC website about “Wall Street greed.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, the ranking member of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to the chairman of the SEC on Tuesday pointing out the timing of the ad buy, which he said “neatly coincided” with the Goldman charges.

Google is now saying that’s not the case. The SEC charges hit Goldman before 11 a.m. ET on Friday morning. The DNC said the Adwords were bid on at 2 p.m. on Friday. Google confirmed the DNC’s timing of the purchase to CNN on Wednesday.

In other words, Republicans have spent a week pushing a ridiculous conspiracy theory with no foundation in reality, and the media played along. It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last.