Conspiracy theorists have hijacked the GOP: What happens when Trump, Cruz & Carson start following Alex Jones' lead?

The Planned Parenthood hoax is a case study in how horrible information can somehow become conventional wisdon

Published July 22, 2015 2:58PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

The fact that Donald Trump is leading in the polls by roughly 11 percentage points should be enough evidence that the Republican crazy train has completely derailed. But all the blame can't be dropped onto Trump's be-wigged head. The modern GOP, inch-by-inch and day-by-day, continues to embrace the very fringes of the political discourse by sounding eerily similar to paleoconservative conspiracy theorists like radio host and talking throat polyp Alex Jones.

Back in May, Jones held a rally outside an Austin, TX Planned Parenthood based around the coopted theme of "Black Lives Matter." Of course it had nothing to do with police violence or racism. Jones borrowed the hashtag in order to demonize Planned Parenthood -- which, Jones insists, is committing genocide against black babies. Jones believes Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wanted to exterminate the African-American population, based solely on a quote from a letter Sanger wrote in 1939 in which she said, "We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."

Shocker: Alex Jones is misinterpreting the quote. Here's the full context:

"The minister’s work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

Sanger was seeking an African-American doctor to prescribe birth control to African-American patients, chiefly because there was a pervasive suspicion at the time that white people were attempting to prevent black people from breeding. While there might've been some fringe racists who believed such a thing, Sanger was not one of them. Indeed, Sanger's "Negro Project" was a widely endorsed social justice project, and whatever racists beliefs Sanger may or may not have held, Planned Parenthood was definitely not trying to exterminate "the Negro population." (Here's the full debunking from

(It’s is worth noting that, yes, Sanger was connected to the eugenics movement. For example, she opposed the introduction of immigrants into the United States who were “diseased or feeble-minded.” However, she denied supporting any sort of racial consideration and grew increasingly at odds with the broader movement over time.)

This is what Jones does. He takes wafer-thin dollops of nothing and extrapolates that nothingness into super-colossal plots against humanity. A tweet from the Boston Globe after the Boston Marathon bombing, discovered by Twitter followers in western time zones where the time is obviously earlier than Boston time, was enough evidence for Jones to theorize that the bombing was a government plot and the Boston Globe was a player in the conspiracy. Likewise, Sanger's quote was stripped of context and twisted to sound worse than it actually is. From there, Planned Parenthood apparently continues to exterminate black fetuses.

Why is this important today? One of the Republican presidential hopefuls, Dr. Ben Carson, repeated the exact same conspiracy theory on the conservative Jan Mickelson program this week.

“You wonder if [Obama] actually knows the history of Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger, who was trying to eliminate black people,” said Carson. “That was the whole purpose of it.”

Mickelson went on to play a clip of Hillary Clinton praising Sanger's work. Carson said with as much excitement as Carson is capable of generating with his normally soporific tone that if he's the GOP nominee, he'd use the audio clip extensively throughout his would-be general election campaign. But what Carson didn't say was that he was cribbing his ideas from a known crackpot who has zero interest in social justice or civil rights.

And this is just one small example in the hasty descent of the GOP into going full InfoWars. Others include:

  • The so-called "most interesting man in politics," Rand Paul, has marketed in the Alex Jones theory that the late UN ambassador Chris Stevens was running firearms from Libyan rebels to pro-al-Qaeda forces in Syria. LINK?
  • Not too long ago, Texas governor Greg Abbott acted upon Alex Jones' Jade Helm conspiracy theory by announcing that he'd deploy the Texas State Guard to monitor the military training exercises there.
  • The GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, (I love typing those words) famously wasted his own money investigating President Obama's birth certificate.
  • Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has repeated various theories about Agenda 21, another Alex Jones plot.

And they wonder why so many liberals think they're crazy. It's because they kind of are. Anyone who listens to something that gurgles out of Jones' face and accepts it at face value is not only an easily led ignoramus, but we seriously ought to question their mental capacity. Ben Carson is a brain surgeon, but hearing him talk about Sanger and Planned Parenthood using information provided by Alex Jones, it's reasonable to wonder whether his thinks his patients' brains aren't simply haunted by tiny invisible demons, implanted there by shape-shifting lizard people from outer space.

By Bob Cesca

Bob Cesca is a regular contributor to Salon. He's also the host of "The Bob Cesca Show" podcast, and a weekly guest on both the "Stephanie Miller Show" and "Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang." Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contribute through LaterPay to support Bob's Salon articles -- all money donated goes directly to the writer.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alex Jones Ben Carson Conspiracy Theories Donald Trump Planned Parenthood Ted Cruz