As COVID-19 Has Spread, So Have Conspiracy Theories. Our New Podcast Episode Explores Why.

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Image Credit: Nuri Vallbona/REUTERS

Image Credit: Nuri Vallbona/REUTERS

May 28, 2020

As we navigate the global coronavirus pandemic, accurate and credible information can mean the difference between life and death.

Yet as COVID-19 has spread, so too has a flood of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus — amplified by figures like Alex Jones of InfoWars, and proliferating wildly across social media and even at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

It’s a trend that veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk has been examining closely. When the coronavirus pandemic hit America, Michael was already working on a documentary investigating how and why conspiracy theories have taken center stage in our country’s political conversation.

In today’s new podcast episode, Michael takes us through some of what he’s learned — including the role of an alliance among Jones, longtime GOP operative Roger Stone and Donald Trump — and explains how conspiracy theories, once confined to the fringes of American politics, are central today to understanding the nation’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“People are hungry to have the inexplicable explained to them in a coherent way,” Michael says. And when they’ve been conditioned for years not to believe experts, he says, “even if everything about it is debunked, is seriously ridiculous, is outrageously wrong, if it makes a kind of sense to them — and especially if elites and knowledge-based institutions, and sadly people like Tony Fauci, say, ‘This isn’t true; this can’t be true’ — that in a way blesses it.”

For the full story, listen to “Covering Coronavirus: United States of Conspiracy”on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and stay tuned for Michael’s documentary in the coming months on the role conspiracy theories have come to play in our democracy.

On another note, thank you so much to those of you who have made contributions to support the journalism of the FRONTLINE Dispatch in these unprecedented times. The response to our previous call for support was so impactful that the Ruggles Family Foundation, a FRONTLINE donor, has agreed to match your contributions to the Dispatch dollar-for-dollar this week. Take this opportunity to double your donation today.

Thank you for listening, and for your support.


Raney Aronson-Rath

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@raneyaronson

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