When it’s your job to advise the president on the urgency of possible domestic and foreign threats, understanding the difference between credible information and junk information is crucial. But a quick skim through the Twitter feed of Donald Trump‘s pick for National Security Adviser shows that he, like the president-elect, may be lacking when it comes to that essential life skill.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn could soon have a powerful role on the world stage, but his social media habits have quite a few people calling that potential role into question. As POLITICO points out, Flynn has used his Twitter account to “promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months.”
On Twitter alone, a POLITICO review found that Flynn posted conspiracy-laden articles at least 16 times since August 9.
Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has “secretly waged war” on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a “jihadi” who “laundered” money for Muslim terrorists.
The flak began flying anew after Sunday’s shooting at a Washington pizza restaurant that had been targeted by false, internet-fed rumors accusing it of being the epicenter of a satanic child-trafficking conspiracy involving Clinton and her allies. Flynn had twice used Twitter to promote similar, only slightly less outrageous hoaxes in the past month, including a claim that Clinton’s campaign manager takes part in occult rituals in which bodily fluids are consumed.
But Flynn’s penchant for misinformation didn’t end with the individual links he was sharing. He was also retweeting the conspiratorial lunacy of other people. One example is a meme he retweeted (see below) that warned of the “Agenda 21” conspiracy.
In 2013, Slate‘s Jeff Turintine described the A21 conspiracy as the “secret plot to collectivize private property—hatched by United Nations internationalists and midwifed by operatives ensconced within our own government,” blah blah something something. The point is, why bother? The guy who Trump wants to advise him on national security believes Agenda 21 is a thing. That’s a problem.
“We are not talking about policy toward China or Russia,” former State Department policy adviser Peter Singer said according to POLITICO. “We are talking about some of the most bizarre conspiracy theories out there. We are down the rabbit hole. How can you take him seriously when he is discussing people in D.C. drinking human blood? It is exasperating.”
Referring to the pizzeria shooting, House Intelligence Committee top Democrat Adam Schiff said that the false information like the kind Flynn disseminates is now confirmed to have deadly consequences.
“It is incumbent on Trump, his nominee for national security adviser, Gen. Flynn, and his entire team to disavow these falsehoods and conspiracy theories,” Schiff said in a statement. “They will soon have a country to run, and God help us if they conduct the nation’s affairs like their transition — without the willingness or ability to separate fact from fiction.”
“[National Security Adviser] is a role that has been occupied by a history of thoughtful and sober thinkers, whether you are right or left,” Schiff added.
Among the gems the POLITICO review found was a tweet from November 2, where Flynn promoted an article that claimed emails found on former New York congressman Anthony Weiner‘s laptop contained enough evidence to convict Hillary Clinton of “sex crimes” with children, among other things.
U decide – NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc…MUST READ! https://t.co/O0bVJT3QDr
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) November 3, 2016
No such emails have ever been found.
Two days later, Flynn posed a tweet containing the hashtag “#spiritcooking,” a reference to a bizarre rumor alleging that Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, took part in occult rituals in which people consume blood and other bodily fluids. That rumor, based on a wild reading of some Podesta emails that had been released by WikiLeaks, also took off on websites such as the Drudge Report and InfoWars, run by Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
The “#spiritcooking” rumor soon morphed into the “#pizzagate” conspiracy theory involving Comet Ping Pong, which alleges that virtually the entire D.C. establishment — including the Clintons, Obama, law enforcement and the media — is involved with or covering up a satanic plot to traffic in, sexually abuse and murder children. The debunked allegations have led to death threats and harassment against the restaurant and others associated with Comet, including owners of neighboring businesses and indie musicians who play concerts in the pizzeria’s back room.
While Flynn has never posted a story related to #PizzaGate, his son has done so with gusto.
“Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story,” Michael G. Flynn, who works for his father’s international consulting firm, tweeted. “The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.”
It’s important to remember that Flynn does not need Senate confirmation to assume the role Trump gave him, which means his serious credibility deficit won’t be exposed to questioning in a public hearing.
If this story freaks you out, you can take heart that most reputable media seems freaked out by it too and is now finally turning up the heat on Flynn’s alleged belief system. Additionally, progressive organizations put forth a letter signed by 53 non-profit groups asking Trump to dump Flynn.
“While deserving respect for the time he has served our country in uniform, we feel General Flynn is unfit for serving in this critical post,” the organizations wrote in a statement. “His appointment will damage America’s standing in the world and pose a threat to our national security.”
Regardless, conspiracy theorists having their special form of psychosis validated by a White House stamp of approval looks like it may become reality.
Featured image via YouTube