Op-ed: Conspiracy theories

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, July 30, 2016 6:25pm
  • Opinion

I am so confused: Was the hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails and subsequent public release by WikiLeaks right before the party convention part of some plot by Vladimir Putin to sabotage Hillary Clinton, whom he reportedly despises, and help his buddy Donald Trump? Trump has spoken warmly of Putin and has raised questions about America’s commitment to NATO.

The Democrats are trying really hard to salvage whatever narrative they can from the email dump. After all, it caused their party so much embarrassment just before its convention that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to resign or be pushed out.

That’s the face-saving theory that Hillary’s people are peddling — that The Donald and The Vladimir are in cahoots. They even have many experts who say that this has the markings of dirty dealing by Russian intelligence. Conspiracy theorists are in ecstasy.

But let’s go one step further than their paranoia patrol: Could this really be the handiwork of some Bernie Sanders-supporting geek, sitting in his bedroom in his parents’ house, who put this out there to prove once and for all that the party organization — which is required to be neutral — really was conspiring against Sanders with the Clinton campaign all along. It certainly did rile up all the Bernie supporters. They were are already sorely antagonized that their guy lost. They angrily insist that there’s no way they will vote for Hillary, even though Sanders is pleading with them that beating Trump is even more important than being spiteful.

But wait — there are still more possibilities: Suppose this was some devious plot by Hillary’s operatives to put all this stuff out to create the impression that Vladimir Putin wants Donald Trump elected so Russia can dominate the United States in the new Cold War. Putin might have concluded that Trump is such a bubblehead that he can be easily manipulated. Yes, I’ll admit that this one is pretty far out there, somewhere near Area 51, but this year in politics, nothing is too loopy. After all, Trump did suggest that Ted Cruz’s father was somehow connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Anything goes, it seems.

Really, as hard-fought as the Clinton-Sanders battle was, it was serene compared with the chaotic monstrosity that was the Republican primary. But Donald Trump stands at the top of that garbage heap. We got to laugh at his convention. Instead of a unity display, it was muddled disarray. The Democrats had planned to show them up. But with the email dump, their show was a downer at the start, before they succeeded by the end in turning into a rousing party infomercial. Still, there are millions of Sanders’ supporters. Even though he’s now being the good soldier by joining Hillary’s army, his troops aren’t necessarily following his orders to support her and rescue everyone from a Trump presidency. Many petulantly insist that the hack left them so hacked off that they will refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. If so, she loses.

Obviously, this is not Hillary’s only email problem. So now we’ve heard talk of one more possibility: What if hackers from Moscow, or anywhere else for that matter, have their hands on the 30,000-plus “personal” emails that she and her attorneys deleted from the private system she used while she was secretary of state? If they contain communications that were unseemly or worse, they could be major trouble. No wonder Trump is rooting for this one: “Russia, if you’re listening,” he exclaimed at a news conference, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Finally, let’s not forget that other conspiracy theory that’s been rattling around for quite a while, that Bill and Hillary manipulated goofy Donald to run in order to assure her victory. Frankly, I don’t think the Clintonistas are that smart. Besides, she has struggled so mightily as a candidate that Trump might beat her and have the last laugh. Or maybe Putin would?

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

This screenshot of an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation map of PFAS sites in Alaska shows that contamination from so-called “forever chemicals” is observable throughout the state. (Screenshot | Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)
Opinion: More action must be taken on PFAS

Toxic forever chemicals present in high concentrations in Nikishka Bay Utility Water Supply

Logo courtesy of League of Women Voters.
League of Women Voters of Alaska: Join us in calling for campaign finance limits

The involvement of money in our elections is a huge barrier for everyday Alaskans who run for public office

Promise garden flowers are assembled for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Let’s keep momentum in the fight against Alzheimer’s

It’s time to reauthorize these bills to keep up our momentum in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and all other types of Dementia.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., questions Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 14 on Capitol Hill.
Opinion: Music to the ears of America’s adversaries

Russia and China have interest in seeing America’s democracy and standing in the world weakened

Dr. Sarah Spencer. (Photo by Maureen Todd and courtesy of Dr. Sarah Spencer)
Opinion: Alaskans needs better access to addiction treatment. Telehealth can help.

I have witnessed firsthand the struggles patients face in accessing addiction care

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Need for accounting and legislative oversight of the permanent fund

There is a growing threat to the permanent fund, and it is coming from the trustees themselves

(Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Imagine the cost of health and happiness if set by prescription drug companies

If you didn’t have heartburn before seeing the price, you will soon — and that requires another prescription

Mike Arnold testifies in opposition to the use of calcium chloride by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on Kenai Peninsula roads during a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Peninsula Votes: Civic actions that carried weight

Watching an impressive display of testimony, going to an event, or one post, can help so many people learn about something they were not even aware of

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Helicopter fishing a detriment to fish and fishers

Proposal would prohibit helicopter transport for anglers on southern peninsula

The cover of the October 2023 edition of Alaska Economic Trends magazine, a product of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (Image via department website)
Dunleavy administration’s muzzling of teacher pay report is troubling

Alaska Economic Trends is recognized both in Alaska and nationally as an essential tool for understanding Alaska’s unique economy

Image via weseeyou.community
5 tips for creating a culture of caring in our high schools

Our message: No matter what challenges you’re facing, we see you. We support you. And we’re here for you.

The Alaska State Capitol is photographed in Juneau, Alaska. (Clarise Larson/Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Vance’s bill misguided approach to Middle East crisis

In arguing for her legislation, Vance offers a simplistic, one-dimensional understanding of the conflict