Journalist: 9/11 Truther Movement Fruit of 'Right-wing Fringe Talk'; Most Famous Truthers Are Leftists

Emily Bazelon apparently has found the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in lower Manhattan as a perfect excuse to suggest that conservatives are particularly prone – compared to other Americans –  to buy into the absurd conspiracy theories of the so-called 9/11 Truther movement. But the most prominent of 9/11 Truthers in the national spotlight are celebrities and media personalities whose politics are left of center, including a co-host of CNN’s Crossfire.

The Slate senior editor made the pronouncement on the May 19 edition of The Lead with Jake Tapper, after Tapper asked her if there was a great deal of scapegoating involved with the Truther conspiracy [Click here for MP3 audio; Video below]:

Exactly. I think you see these virulent strains that are related  to each other and familiar from fringe right wing talk and they all kind of get weirdly braided together in this particular theory.

Now, it simply doesn’t take much more than a Google search to realize that not only did 9/11 Trutherism exist on the left, but by some accounts it was at least as popular on the left as it was on the right. A 2006 Scripps Howard Poll found that 50.8% of Democrats found it somewhat or very likely that the “federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to go to war in the Middle East.”

Clearly, Trutherism’s roots go much deeper than the broad, inaccurate label with which Ms. Bazelon decided to associate the movement.

Trutherism was very popular among the Hollywood liberal elites as well. Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, and Ed Asner all signed on for the production of a 9/11 Truther film. Others such as Rosie O’Donnell, Charlie Sheen, and Willie Nelson have endorsed elements of the Truther movement. Trutherism fails to escape the mainstream liberal media as well; both MSNBC’s Toure and CNN’s own Van Jones – also, you may recall, a former Obama White House staffer -- have espoused Truther sentiments in their past. Labeling this movement as a purely right-wing phenomenon is disingenuous at best and at worst blithely ignores how its most prominent adherents actually skew leftward in their politics.              

The relevant portion of the segment is transcribed below:

The Lead with Jake Tapper
May 19, 2014
4:18 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER, host: What happens when this kind of nonsense hits the echo chamber of the Internet?

EMILY BAZELON, Slate senior editor: I t tends to multiply online. You see these dark corners of the Internet where people pile on. There is this very minute parsing of the technicalities of the supposed evidence. More and more detail gets added and accumulated. It feeds on itself.

TAPPER: The idea here is not just that the three buildings were destroyed by explosives. But it's all part of this grand conspiracy where the U.S. Government, let me state if I haven't made it clear enough, none of this is true. This is crazy talk. But the U.S. Government faked it, killed all these people intentionally just to start a war in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Is that what they're going for?

BAZELON: That is the idea, and just to show how horrifying it is. I suppose that given the American government did put forward some false ideas to motivate going into Iraq, in particular the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction there. That's the tiny, tiny kernel of truth that is in some way related to this completely crazy theory.

TAPPER: There is also a great deal of scapegoating involved in the 9/11 Truther stuff. There's anti-Semitism, anti-Israel anti-corporations, right?

BAZELON: Exactly. I think you see these virulent strains that are related  to each other and familiar from fringe right wing talk and they all kind of get weirdly braided together in this particular theory.

TAPPER: Historically, we see these come after upsetting events. The Kennedy assassination, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Is there a pattern there?

BAZELON: I think that each time something scary and disastrous happens, people search for meaning, and sometimes even when there is a clear explanation. Because we have that for 9/11 in a way that we didn't have at first for the Kennedy assassination, certainly at first.  You have the search for supposed other evidence out there. People pick it up and run with it, even when it seems completely unwarranted.

The Lead Emily Bazelon Jake Tapper