Republicans Are Engaged in Information Warfare

When Christine Blasey Ford was in the limelight immediately after her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans walked a fine line in their attempts to discredit her claims while not attacking her directly. Trump went so far as to suggest that her testimony was credible.

But now that the image of her being terrified while recounting her story is beginning to fade and she basically remains in hiding due to ongoing death threats, they’re changing their tune.

Here is Sen. Susan Collins pretending to be supportive of Ford while dismissing her claims as if she was a confused child.

The president has been more direct in his attacks by mocking Dr. Ford at a campaign rally and on Monday, he called her whole story a hoax and a charade.

Later that night during a ceremony for Kavanaugh at the White House, Trump declared that the newest Supreme Court justice had been proven innocent, an obvious lie.

Republicans are also in the midst of crafting an entire conspiracy theory about the people who supported Dr. Ford and the other victims. Once again, the president is doing his part to promote the conspiracy.

In other words, the mob I wrote about yesterday now has a villain who is behind it all. That conspiracy is even finding its way to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

I started following the money for the “resistance” when it was born, hours after Election Day 2016. I have organized my findings in a spreadsheet I have made public. At least 50 of the largest organizations that participated as “partners” in the Jan. 21, 2017, Women’s March had received grants from Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations or similar funds in the “House of Soros,” as his philanthropic empire was once called internally. The number of Soros-backed partners has grown to at least 80. At least 20 of the largest groups that led the Saturday anti-Kavanaugh protests have been Open Society grantees.

There’s no need to fact check the claims of that author. If you read on, you’ll learn that organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign have all received funds from the Open Society Foundation and some of them have been involved in protests. But the president wants you to believe that Soros actually paid people to protest because he heard something about that on Fox News.

Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani took it one step farther when he retweeted someone who had written, “Follow the money. I think Soros is the anti-Christ! He must go! Freeze his assets and I bet the protests stop.”

That, my friends, is a perfect example of the anatomy of a conspiracy theory. It went from “the Open Society provides grants to some of the biggest national non-profits in the country” to “George Soros is the anti-Christ and we should freeze his assets to stop the protests.”

While Soros is the favorite target of right wing conspiracy theorists, he’s not the only villain being created these days. Take a look at what the U.S. Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton told Hugh Hewitt after referring to the “crazed mob” the Democratic Party whipped up over the last three weeks.

HH: Is there any doubt in your mind, Senator Cotton, that this was planned long before it was unveiled? And by that, I mean the leak of Dr. Ford’s letter, I don’t know who did it, but I believe it was part of a campaign that was set up to occur exactly when it did. Do you agree with me?

TC: Hugh, I believe the Schumer political operation was behind this from the very beginning. We learned last week that a woman named Monica McLean was Ms. Ford’s roommate, and she was one of the so-called beach friends who encouraged Ms. Ford to go to Dianne Feinstein and the partisan Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Well, it just turns out, it just so happens that Monica McLean worked for a Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, now a virulent anti-Trump critic on television and former counsel to Chuck Schumer. So I strongly suspect that Chuck Schumer’s political operation knew about Ms. Ford’s allegations as far back as July and manipulated the process all along to include taking advantage of Ms. Ford’s confidences and directing her towards left-wing lawyers who apparently may have violated the D.C. code of legal ethics and perhaps may face their own investigation by the D.C. Bar.

Once again, Dr. Ford is treated as a child who lacks any personal agency. Instead, she is cast as someone who was manipulated by a friend that once worked for Preet Bharara and thus became a tool of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a political operation.

There are several conclusions I draw from these frenzied attempts to concoct conspiracy theories about Dr. Ford and the resistance movement. The first one is that people create conspiracy theories because they want to deny the truth. Republicans are obviously worried about the effects of the Kavanaugh confirmation process and are attempting to get out ahead of this story with a tale that completely distorts what actually happened. The second is that, in doing so, they are revealing how they think politics works by creating a narrative of what they would do in similar circumstances. In other words, they are projecting the kinds of strategies they would employ onto Democrats.

But perhaps the most important point to take away from these conspiracy theories is that Republicans understand the importance of creating a narrative, even if it is a totally false one. As the actual events of the last few weeks fade away, they are feverishly attempting to piece them together in a way that will solidify their position in the minds of voters.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac found that “49 percent of voters say Kavanaugh ‘is the target of a politically motivated smear campaign,’ as 45 percent of voters say he is not a target of a smear campaign.” While that is a pretty slim margin, it indicates that the narrative being created by these conspiracy theories is having an impact.

There is a real danger involved in what is happening. The lies and conspiracy theories are coming at a pace that is fast and furious, while a lot of Americans don’t know what to believe anymore. Perhaps it’s time we started calling this process what it really is: information warfare.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.