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tv   Washington Journal Thomas Wood  CSPAN  August 11, 2018 2:54am-3:40am EDT

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one time, we were together and some of the old women who had been here before, nancy johnson and some of the others, we were -- one of us said said, i have got to go because i take my work home and the other one said you do that to? the other one said you do that soto? -- too? we realized we went home at night and worked and the guys went out and had a good time. not all of them, but that is what happened. they would take off for they would go to a matinee sometimes. we were working all the time. we realized with women, that was a difference. >> and in the weeks ahead, we hear from barberton alley, nancy johnson and lynn woolsey. sunday at histories 10:00 a.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. joining us from columbus
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serves asas would who an assistant professor of political science coming here to talk to us about conspiracy theories and people directly associated to it. could you talk to us about your study of conspiracy theory? decade, my associate and i became very interested in what we suspected would be a fringe element of american public opinion and we started off as students in the realm of american public opinion, we thought this would be a media success story. be responding and reflecting the political considerations of the presence in the media of their choice. mediad, modest consumption differences that relate to the kind of conspiracy theories american survey
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respondents expressed, and it was also the scope of conspiracy believe. we imagined this would the responsibility of a fringe element but through some subscription of narratives have been incredibly widespread in the american public. that was the first indication of what we imagined was the story of emergent media properties that came around a decade ago and the explosion of new media and decline of old media. was going tohat fail to be a compelling, satisfying account of why the american public was so conspiratorial and think about more psychological factors that explained its proclivity. >> as a baseline, we brought you to talk about this person. this -- tolain to
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our viewers who this person or group is and what influence that person in the recent couple of weeks? >> we have to be careful when talking about these things, especially when talking about on c-span. your regular viewers probably hear about accounts from trained journalists on this channel and invest in those counts some degree of factual representativeness so we have to stimulate this theory is wildly speculative and broadly theausible on its face, but claim started circulating on certain chat boards the end of was aear and the claim person professed to have shadowy influence in american government had access to secret information , promised that in the coming days and weeks after the prediction was made, cataclysmic
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events in american politics shadowyanspire and a network of people who had abused the public trust, abused the innocence, would be exposed and the american system of government would be revealed to be a shadowy network of secret actors and again, it sounds like the kind of story that comprises a pitch for a hollywood film. that is not coincidental. the story almost doesn't submit itself to factual contradictions. thatther amazing thing is among the advocates, adherence on these boards, it failed every chance it has had to be vindicated in its predictions and amazingly, when the prophecies failed, adherence don't abandon the theory. adherents almost cling to it
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more closely. >> did you see that expressed? we showed photos of it at recent rallies with the president and people wearing t-shirts are holding signs. what does that suggest about how this theory or person who has gripped at least some of the imagination of trump supporters? >> it suggests something that is may be true about the strange people who attend rallies during midterm elections. to my knowledge, we have no really good nationally representative survey data on the prevalence of this conspiracy theory. isn't -- if a large portion of the public adhere to this theory, it is because of reports like the one we are involved with right now. the mere exposure effect and makeintentioned newspapers these fanciful claims and in so doing, expose a larger audience
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to the underlying conspiracy narrative than would otherwise have been aware of it. on hasd be amazed if the durability or widespread belief like the 9/11 conspiracy theories or the president obama birtherism theory, but it might be the case that this goes on to trump supporters and become a recurrent fundamental part of his supporter base. this is speculation, of course a function of the fact that we are in the dog days of baseball and football hasn't come. we are casting round things to talk about and i would be surprised if this goes on to be in enduring part of public opinion. >> if you want to ask questions
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about qanon and what you have heard about ,he person or group itself there are so many people that professor, you spoke about social media in your open statements. where did this -- does this group exist on social media? one of those is the website reddit. >> to my knowledge, reddit came later. there were more shadowy websites where they feature greater prevalence of white nationalists sentiment, trafficking in old-school, old-fashioned anti-semitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories. read it came far later. the prevalence of qanon on the
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site reddit is indication of how the conspiracy theory became among a larger group. again, i want to make clear to your viewers, social media is not the driving factor in americans conspiracy belief. that fails historically. conspiracy theories about the role of catholics in american policies boiled american society in the 19th century. conspiracy. in the 20th century predates the emergence of social media. landing andalien the assassination of john f. kennedy predates by decades the emergence of social media. finally, there is a scope dimension which precludes the role of social media being the
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driving force of conspiracy theory adherents. the place where these are most heavily trafficked fringe boards have tiny volumes of people , -- tens ofand yet millions of americans are estimated to support this theory. reasons,ose sets of social media is an important factor, but it misrepresents how we should ink of the informed understanding of this phenomenon. >> the evidence box did a survey boards like read it comes to the great awakening usersand excited that 210 on that board collectively posted quarter of the comments, 690 posted a quarter of the comments. it is important to say whatever this interest is, it is a very
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subset of supporters overall of this president. extenttly, and so to the that now people are so shooting it more and more with eating an ardent supporter of president trump, that might aid the prevalence of this conspiracy theory in so far as tens of millions of americans are sitting at home with very positive feelings about president trump and if it is the case that you can become an adherent to the qanon some -- story to be consistent with your support of the president, that might make this conspiracy here he widely spread in time, the same way birth tourism -- birtherism became a way for people who didn't support president obama, were fellow travelers with the theory as a way to be made consistent with their distaste for president obama. >> before we go to the phones, what specifically does qanon
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advocate as far as the thing he claims to know as far as this administration. it is one thing and we will go to calls. thomas: sure. the thing i like the most about the story and this is just threee i am a fan for the days of the condor and the 1970's conspiracy. movers -- movies, this numerology. folks say any time the number 17 is referred to, they think that is a subtle signal of insiders that they are adherence to or proponents of this conspiracy narrative. while that makes for fantastical it -- fantastic narrative, i would ask your audience to think about how wildly implausible numerology is to be a secret motive commit -- conspiracy. ,> this call comes from ocala
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florida. you are on the line. >> i cannot believe c-span has such an unintelligent person represent qanon when there are so many people that are available to give you the scope andthe accuracy of qanon this guy knows absolutely nothing. you can't believe a word he is saying. he is obviously indoctrinated in a liberal -- >> are you a follower of qanon? >> absolutely. >> what has he said and how has that born itself out? >> pardon? >> what claims has he made and where has it come true in your mind? >> what predictions have come true? 48,000ow about indictments that will come forward very shortly. >> which haven't come forth yet but is this a prediction of
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qanon? >> it is part of the entire exposure of the deep state, and it is unbelievable. there are so many citizen journalists who could give you the entire scope of this. >> why do you believe him? why do you believe the person on this board? labanause he has accurate telling us the things that the media will not discuss. >> that is tony in florida. i would say to tony in florida, one of the lovely things living in a pluralist racially diverse, intellectually diverse, i welcome and applaud you for thinking whatever you like. i am sorry i have let you guys down but i will make it clear, i am neither advocating for or against conspiracy narratives. oftudy them as a phenomenon
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mass opinion, so i don't mean to disparage any person who appears to them. i want to make sure i am not a fringe element. it is a typical way for the average american to make sense every personnd so listening this morning, you are absolutely welcome to believe whatever you like about american politics. i would just encourage you to do this very simple trick. go ahead and reverse the name of any political figure in any of the stories. flip obama to trump. if you find yourself less willing to believe the theory, indicationretty fair that your partisanship, your ideology is doing some of the work here. believing or not believing this conspiracy theory. in that case, i would encourage you to look at the dispassionate evidence. host: to the caller's point, have there been any claims that qanon have made that came out 100% accurate?
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thomas: gosh. that is so far afield from mass opinion. i would encourage the audience cannot necessarily take my word for it or the caller from florida, go ahead and read any established, conventional news source -- we have a vital free press in this country, and we have hundreds of years of journalistic standards for what can and cannot be reported in the press. they can inform themselves that way. host: tom in minnesota. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. i always appreciate tuning in to you guys. i am a supporter of donald trump. i have never heard of this q thing. so i just -- and my first comment was going to be, you were not explaining what some of these theories were, you said something about a numerical
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theory, and i kind of just chuckled. as a donald trump supporter, would not get into something like that. you guys are, in a way, spreading news on being informed about this, so i'm going to have to check it out. my final question would be, what you are saying about people believing in that kind of stuff as compared to those who still think that elvis is alive, so that is where i am at. thomas: i want to take this caution very seriously. there is a mere exposure effect. i appear on c-span, not reluctantly, but to indicate if anything you hear today makes you curious, go ahead and read in established news media organizations to acquaint
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yourself with a particular theory. many sort of rigorous world reporter stories exist, checking to the extent of these claims have been vindicated and i am encouraging your audience to make up their own minds. on the question of conspiracy prevalence, we have good data that americans on each end of the political spectrum broadly believe and quite a large number of conspiracy theories. some of the most interesting ones i find are to do with health. for instance, large numbers of americans are suspicious of natural for chronic diseases are being suppressed by drug companies for financial interests. large numbers of americans during the second half of the bush administration believed that the american government had been in the 9/11 terror attacks.
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to my mind, we have no survey data on qanon and to this point, i suspect it enjoys far less support in the american public, but it really is a political question how wisely the broad currency it might enjoy in a year or two time. host: yahoo! news reporting that some of the more interesting things that qanon espouses -- based solely on the word of q, for instance that prominent democrats like hillary clinton are involved in a pedophilia ring and president trump is secretly working with robert mueller to bring it down. the sudden proliferation of these evidence free claims has caused many to wonder why they caught fire at this point in time. we are looking at it ourselves with our guest thomas wood who joins us from ohio state university. rich from ohio, independent line. caller: thank you. professor wood, first of all, i'm a proud graduate of ohio state university with a major in
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political science 15 years ago, so it is wonderful to see you on representing the university in talking about a subject that has kind of hit the media recently. my question, and it goes back to one of your initial comments, was that you had referenced some of the mainstream media doing some analysis on the qanon phenomenon and trying to prove these theories false. you seem to indicate that that wasn't the right way to go about it. i guess, as a person that has always been factually oriented because i went on to law school at ohio state, and believe in facts and truth, when things are pretty preposterous, the right way to take them on is to do some fact analysis.
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and try to prove to people that these are false allegations and back it up with facts and other ways to disprove it. let other people put their facts if they feel they have facts to put them out there and let people decide. newspaper and general media do a good job of this. host: thank you. professor? go ahead. thomas: i would echo richard's comments. first off, i support endorsing the university. secondly, it is a question of professional judgment. qanon is only one of these conspiracy narratives that gets sort of trialed in online forums, and most of them fizzle very quickly. i think the audience would agree
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that it is not the responsibility or a good use of journalists' time to hang out on these forums and take every wildly fanciful claim at face value. and dedicate journalistic resources to reporting or not these claims. it is a matter of professional judgment. i think they have to wait until they observe some circumstantial evidence that large numbers of people are adhering to these stories and their exposure effect is offset by a correction effect. as rich rightfully indicates. my caution is just that i am -- creepingly aware how many of these theories are trialed at one time or another. given the broad opportunity and the broad number of those, most of which never gain any traction or audience, i would not think it is a good use of journalistic
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resources of a nation's free press to run those stories down. it is a balancing act. host: republican line from florida. caller: hi, i wanted to ask if qanon had any belief in the fact of the claims of edward snowden had made to the deep state consisting of the federations of societies article in executivepart order? ahead?rofessor, go thomas: gosh. that terminology -- if you really want to have specifics with that terminology, i would encourage you to use a search engine. the complicating factor is there are few chronicle versions as to -- because it is a folk theory, really. as to what is included.
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that specificity, i am not equipped or trained to speak to the truth or falsity of the account, i am more studying the psychological response. >> one of those psychological responses, video being one of those features of qanon, if you go to the great awakening site, there are several videos posted by this person. we will show you a portion. [video clip] >> by now, you may be aware that america was on the verge of being destroyed by a gang of very powerful criminals who had made their way right into the heart of power. we didn't notice because they became our most trusted leaders, entertainers, and politicians. but then, things changed. in 2016, patriots in the u.s. military took back power with the election of donald trump. directly into the damage and sickening destruction caused by america in the world, they got to work dismantling the branches of the powerful shadow government that was in the process of siphoning off
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america's vast wealth to their global masters. after two years of a dramatic covert operation that was in -- to include the gutting of the cia and justice department, they now face the last remaining pillar of the deep state. the vast media empire. host: professor, what do you think about the power that these videos will add to the perpetuation of the impact of q? thomas: there are some very effective videographers and narratists in this community. i would encourage your audience to look at what they just saw and think about it is it really that different from the way movie trailers to conspiracy movies are made? it is compelling stuff. i do not deny the allure of these. novels, as well as well, but i would encourage your audience, if anything that we have heard on this broadcast
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this morning has made them interesting -- interested, go to outlets andational inform yourself that way. become very convinced, fantastic. there is an online community where you can enjoy describing this conspiracy theory to your hearts content. christopher is in philadelphia. democrats line. caller: hi, thomas. this is chris from philadelphia here. i am applauding your bravery to come on and talk to some of the proponents of this theory. i have met some and it gets very intense. you are going to have lots of dots connected and somehow in this entire grand scheme, donald trump is the hero. so just get ready and i just wanted to let you know that once pedro put that mirror to the guy from florida, as soon as it is presented with any sort of push back, 'do you have any facts to back that up,' nothing.
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so take it with a grain of salt and i encourage c-span to have more things like this because it is needed. a lot of people are scared to push back against this sort of intensity. host: thank you. professor would? -- wood? thomas: i never thought of what i was doing as brave. that made me concerned. i am a migrant to this country. i am an american citizen now, but i love chatting with americans about politics. all kinds of ideas are expressed in my classroom. it is not my position to abuse any person of their conservative, moderate, or liberal ideology. the caller is onto something as far as the success of this particular conspiracy theory and -- is owed in some part to the way it taps into the current partisan divide.
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it allows people who otherwise feel very positively disposed to certain national political figures -- that is a very useful thing for making the conspiracy theory more current and widely trafficked. host: professor, from your research, is there a common denominator for those people who adhere to conspiracy theories? thomas: sure. in a book that eric oliver and i that is coming out in about a month, "enchanted america," we find two basic cognitive styles, a rationalist, a intuitivist -- intuitionist and cognitive styles tend to be more educated, -- apparent among folks who have more formal educated, tend to be religious and have lower income. among those folks, the folks --
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the impulse to suggest intellectual scrutiny is a bit suppressed and instead, they enjoyed the intuitive appeal of these stories. i would caution you, we have all at some times used intuition and magical thinking and symbolic reasoning in our life is. has covered their clutch point in any sporting event knows we can all become successful -- successful -- susceptible to symbolic reasoning and emotional anxiety. nothing in the research is meant to disparage people who adhere to these claims, and i want to affirm that it is a widespread manifestation in america's attitudes. host: pennsylvania, independent line.
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caller: good morning, greetings. welcome to the q, where we will go one, we will go all. host: are you a follower? caller: what is going on? let's put it this way. after what happened with our election and bernie, can you blame them? in the mockingbirds press -- and i say mockingbird because that is the operation that the cia has come or the deep state -- in other words, we have been lied to for a long, long, long time. it is over. host: nicolas, a couple of things. are you a close follower of this q? caller: close, no. it has been since october of last year, where the hell has anybody else been? host: what drew you to this initially? caller: get the real info, because you are not going to get
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it on tv or through press. you're not going to get it through watching the disney channel or even fox news. there is a lot of stuff they are not allowed to talk about. like fukushima, what happened there? host: ok, that is nicholas. this was particularly on the reddit site, our media today has been taken over by entities with the goal of establishing a global government that requires absolute control of media. the message they deliver. mainstream investigative journalism has been shut down. q is breaking that stronghold by building a new media of independent researchers that are not in troll by outside entities. let truth reign. take that as you will. recurrente of the properties in these theories among their core adherence. these are not some folks who have some level of agreement, but these are folks who really enjoy mapping out the
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connections. there is a sense that every time they are exposed to an external factual correction, they account for this. it is not coincidental that the american press, all the way from the conservative to liberal mainstream press are wrapped up in this theory, and that they are accounted for and their opposition is not even to contradict the claim, but instead, in a strange way, more evidence that stocks up against the claim is actually evidence for the conspiracy. in the mind of its adherents. in a sense, i would encourage folks who are dealing with people in their lives who are very central to the qanon narrative, i do not know if talking to those folks is a -- and exposing them to factual way, but folks
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who are exposed and some level of familiarity with the claim are probably willing to objectively appraise this conspiracy theory's diagnostic and prescriptive capacity. all these properties have been made for the last year and a half and if its adherents are vindicated, it doesn't really matter what some professor is saying on public access tv. it will all be vindicated in history. host: our guest, professor at ohio state university. he teaches political science and is also the co-author of the forthcoming book "enchanted america." we will go to michigan, republican line. kirk, hello. caller: hello. good morning. thank you for c-span. this is a fascinating conversation, but one of the issues i would like to bring up, i have heard of qanon, i am a staunch, conservative republican. heard of it, dismissed it the
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very beginning when i first saw it. as it is, conspiracyiful theory, but i am curious about what thomas in particular, you encourage people to go directly to journalistic reports to find facts, and as a conservative republican, i am amazed that you would -- how do i want to put this -- you seem to want to rely upon journalism and we know for a fact over a year and a half, journalism is not really accurate, either. there are conspiracy theories within the journalistic community and you do not seem to want to question that at all, and of course, in particular with the russian conspiracies with the trump administration, which are now seeming to disintegrate before our eyes. i would like for you to comment on that.
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host: kirk, can i ask you a question before you leave? caller: sure. host: you said you dismissed it, what caused you to do that? in your course of -- have you ever run into a supporter of this or someone who knows about it? caller: no, i have not. i dismissed it because on its face, it was very unrealistic. it kind of went back to the 9/11 conspiracies which i dismissed. things like that, so i threw it away at the beginning. host: thanks, appreciate that. thomas: two kirk's point, journalism is a human endeavor. when they fail, the consequences are bad. -- really bad. it seems to be the case that the american press enjoys far less popular standing than it once did. the extent to which it enjoys respect along the ideological
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spectrum has degraded. we have an excellent survey that that has been taking place through decades, but i would still encourage kirk to think about the united states compared to other countries around the world. if a free press isn't the way you would like the american public to get acquainted with current events, there doesn't seem to be a compelling alternative anywhere in the world. for all of its failings, i would humbly suggest -- i encourage my we would and i hope all be encouraged by the opening democracy we have, it is a redoubtable strength of the american democracy how vital and factually informed the american press is. if you do not like the "new york times" or "the washington post," because you regarded as not sharing your political prize, "the wall street journal" has a
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far more conservative editorial page. thefully somewhere along ideological spectrum, there is factual news reporting that conforms to your taste. host: let's hear from rich in philadelphia, independent. caller: yeah, i would like to comment on the jfk assassination. they keep saying they are going to release all of the files after 50 years, 50 years has come and gone. >> how do you explain things not
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with the american press? >> professor, covenant. -- go ahead. >> with the kennedy assassination, millions of gallons of ink have been spelled. i applaud the american public for their residual interest. attitudes,r of mass i don't feel qualified to make a statement about either of the past claims that are presented. >> are you surprised by the longevity of some of these theories? >> jfk conspiracy theories i idiosyncratic,y quirky, unusual episode of american history insofar as people who were alive in the subsequent government investigation and dispassionate consumer of news media would
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have inadvertently adopted a lot of the traits we might have regarded as quite conspiratorial, made it into the mainstream sort of discussions of this, the oliver stone film of course. taste to thecogent highly conspiratorial account of the jfk assassination. assassinationjfk is a case for being a long-lasting conspiracy with the american public. it is a recurrent question. they have been asking the question for decades. it's been a step in the persistent conspiracy theory. >> joe in pennsylvania, republican line. >> how you doing? you're saying everybody is talking about a conspiracy theory, but since donald trump
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has been in office, he's exposed things like senators using, or congressman using taxpayer money to settle sigrid lawsuits -- secret lawsuits no renew about. also, the budget. nobody is willing to cut it or trim out the fat. i don't know. even the fbi not turning over documents. does that not seem like there is some secret government? dojoe, before i let you go, you believe there is a secret government and those things are fact or are there other things you consider? >> i mean, it is a fact that congressman settle lawsuits with taxpayer money and it wasn't told to american people. it's also a fact that there has been request by congress for documents and they been refusing
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to give them or give them redacted. the election is over so there's no need to suppress that. >> when you say secret government, exactly what do you mean? >> a government that refuses to comply with the order of the people in charge of it. congressman make requests to the fbi. they need to honor that and do it, or go around in circles to get documents they should freely present that doesn't need to be classified to senators and congressmen. the american people have the right to know. the idea of the right to know or the interest in knowing the inner workings of the government drives people's interest in adhering to a conspiracy theory if they do so. >> sure, by the complication is that human come pacitti might -- capacity might lead people in the wrong direction.
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requests for documents between the legislative branch happen year,day, tons and tons a and enjoy no public scrutiny because it's the part of the working of a democratic government. bit skeptical about the extent of which thepiracy theorists connect happenings of the american thernment and use them for factual support for these conspiracy theories. it is believed that americans are becoming more interested in government and hopefully, as folks seek out information about their preferred theory, we can improve the public awareness of how a federal government works.
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host: one more call from barbara in virginia. republican line. caller: i would like to talk about the jfk assassination. in the 1970's, i was traveling in upstate new york and i was having breakfast in a diner with a friend. and this man came up to our table and gave us a flier of hal -- how jfk had been assassinated. it was all about conspiracy theory. we thought he was crazy. my husband and i at the time, even though i'm calling on the republican line, were very involved in democratic politics. and worked for the kennedy's. down the line, fast forward to now, we found out about the cuba-cia involvement about jfk's involvement with the mafia, and if you take a poll of americans
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now, a great majority believe there was a conspiracy. what i think is sometimes these are conspiracies and sometimes it needs years to come out and we find out much more than our government or other people have done. host: gotcha, barbara, thank you. one more question, how do you tell then how qanon sticks in longevity or fits in the long run. how can we measure that? guest: eventually, researchers or public media polling will start asking questions about qanon conspiracy adherence. if we see a large number express awareness of the theory, we will keep asking about it.
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and so in a way, it doesn't matter what individual researcher says, the ingenuous answers of americans will drive the process. those of us who study conspiracy theories, we have a vocational interest in the prevalence of these theories. i will gladly spend the coming years of my career is studying the prevalence of this. and i'm far from alone. many people are studying the prevalence of these attitudes. host: "enchanted america," is the book that takes a look at these topics we been talking about and conspiracy theory. thomas would from ohio state university joining us for this discussion. thank you for your time. guest: thank you. >> c-span's washington journal live every date with news and policy issues that impact you. aming up this morning,
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discussion on economic growth and job creation in the trump presidency with the american institute and mark with the center for economic policy and research. then reuters correspondent image shepherdson on the trump administration's efforts to alter fuel efficiency standards. popular mechanics talks about the magazine's guide to save schools, which looks at measures schools can take to keep students safe in the upcoming year. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 p.m. eastern sunday morning. join the discussion. aboutt, a discussion efforts to combat hiv and aids in the u.s. and abroad. the outcome of the conference and asked her down and the future for the epidemic.


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