Roger Nicholson shamed an Infowars “reporter” for believing the FBI caused the Boston Marathon bombing. That might be the best we can do with people who don’t believe in facts.
Journalists face a tough choice when it comes to covering conspiracy theorists. Give them attention and risk encouraging their delusions of grandeur, or ignore them and risk abdicating journalism’s obligation to inform the public.
In either case, however, the unstated goal is to push back against conspiracy theories with the power of fact. That works, of course, for people who believe in facts — which is to say, it doesn’t deter conspiracy theorists in the least.
So what to do? Perhaps take a cue from Roger Nicholson, the man behind the camera in this video in which he hurls expletives and denunciations at Dan Bidondi, a representative of Alex Jones’ Infowars, a conspiracy theory “news” site. Note: the original video is very coarse, but very illustrative of the point I’m attempting to make here.
Bidondi, who claims to be a journalist, managed to ask Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, if the FBI was behind the Boston Marathon bombings. I think Roger Nicholson responded in just the right way.
And it may be the only way to push back against conspiracy theorists — with the power of public shame. Watch Bidondi’s face in the raw video taken by Nicholson. He’s very concerned that the crowd gathered on the street in Cambridge might realized that he believes that the FBI set off bombs during the Boston Marathon, killing and maiming hundreds.
In a follow-up interview with MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, Nicholson adds ever more shame:
I have seen these Infowar people on and off and I had been ignoring them. To me, Infowars has become the Westboro Baptist Church of journalism. I think these people are un-American and unpatriotic. They’re hysterics. They are not helping this country unify.