Andrew Breitbart announced he had college videos that would embarrass the president. Then he died. What more do you need? (More)

A Method to the Madness, Part II: The Breitbart Rumors

This week Morning Feature explores the psychology of conspiracy theories and their believers. Yesterday we examined the ‘shocking new’ video of President Obama at Harvard. Today we consider the bizarre speculation about President Obama’s role in the tragic death of Andrew Breitbart. Tomorrow we’ll conclude with stunning proof that President Obama refuses to discuss the extraterrestrial plot to colonize earth.

A tragic death

Despite our opposing political views and my disgust for his tactics, Andrew Breitbart’s death last Thursday was not an occasion for joy. He left a wife, four children, and many friends, all of whom will grieve their loss. He was just 43 years old when he collapsed while walking home after having had drinks at a bar. His father-in-law, comic actor Orson Bean, said Breitbart had a history of heart trouble. Friends also described him as “manic” and running “a million miles an hour.” Cardiology Associates reports that about 18,000 men under age 45 die each year of heart disease, and that hypertension is a major risk factor. The Los Angeles Times reported that an autopsy was performed but no finding on cause of death will be made until laboratory tests are completed, which may take weeks.

Or something more?

But rumors don’t wait for lab tests. On the day of his death, several Breitbart fans were already suggesting on Twitter that President Obama ordered Breitbart killed. The alleged motive was Breitbart’s claim, at CPAC, that he had college videos that would destroy President Obama’s reelection chances:

A Sinclair News reporter claims that Breitbart said, back in February, “wait til they see what happens March first.”

And on March 1st, Breitbart died. For conspiracy theorists, the connection was obvious. The next day, conservative talk show host Michael Savage raised the assassination question on the air:

Maybe my overly active imagination kicked into overdrive. But you heard what Breitbart said – he has videos…we’re going to vet the president. I’m asking a crazy question, but so what? We, the people, want an answer. This was not an ordinary man. If I don’t ask this question, I would be remiss.
If there’s going to be an autopsy…are we allowed to ask the question? Let me ask my audience the question: What do you think? Do you think he died from natural causes from overwork, exhaustion, had a heart attack and died–or do you think it’s possible that he was executed, assassinated by some nefarious forces in America?

Have we now become South American in the 1970s, where people just disappear?

Mere possibility

Alex Jones’ Infowars is a treasure trove of the wacky and bizarre. Jones and his site peddle conspiracy theories ranging from 9/11 ‘Truthers’ to plots of a North American Union to claiming the Georgia Guidestones detail an occult conspiracy to exterminate most of humanity. Some of the conspiracies Jones touts contradict each other but, as we discussed yesterday, conspiracy theorists often accept contradictory theories, so long as each theory rejects The Official Story.

So I wasn’t surprised to find this headline at Jones’ site: Breitbart’s death needs to be investigated for the sake and safety of ALL journalists. Andrew Steele’s article follows a common conspiracy narrative, using reports from the 1970s Church Commission and other sources suggesting exotic methods of murder, including some that might look like a heart attack. The author offers the usual suspects: the president himself, “parties interested in seeing that the president stay in office,” and the CIA, who may have contracted the hit out to the Mafia. The article concludes:

If there’s even a chance Andrew Breitbart was murdered it must be fully and independently investigated, no matter what destination such an investigation might lead to. An attack on Andrew Breitbart’s life would equate to attack on all political dissenters, both conservative and liberal. As human beings we owe it, not just to Andrew Breitbart but to ourselves and our own security, to shed further light on this strange event and to look out for each other, even if we don’t agree with all the world views our fellow bloggers and commentators hold. [Emphasis added]

The italicized words are the key for conspiracy theorists. As we discussed back in December, Daniel Kahneman and other psychologists have found we tend to greatly overestimate very tiny probabilities. In the conspiracy theory mindset, it’s enough to ask the question and demand every mere possibility be “fully and independently investigated.” An official autopsy will not qualify, unless it proves homicide. (“But what about poisons that leave no trace?!?”) Indeed conspiracy theorists will claim that any investigation that does not prove homicide was incomplete, compromised, or both, unless investigators meet the (impossible) burden of proving that homicide was … impossible. Just ask the ‘murderous’ Clintons.

Buzzfeed … and more….

Breitbart’s ‘shocking’ video did come out. As we saw yesterday, Buzzfeed found and released the original WGBH news footage of then-student Barack Obama speaking in support of Harvard law professor Derrick Bell. Buzzfeed released the video before Breitbart’s site could tease out their version, which included a Harvard professor claiming he had hidden the footage from the media, despite the video being included in a PBS documentary in 2008. The media narrative might have been very different had the Big Government version come out first … proving Buzzfeed and WGBH are in on the conspiracy … somehow.

After all, Obama not only knew Bell, but assigned Bell’s work when Obama was a professor at the University of Chicago. Never mind that Bell’s casebook – Race, Racism, and American Law – has been a standard textbook in critical race theory for decades. It’s … radical!

If that doesn’t convince you, just consider that President Obama openly admits to supporting alternative energy research, that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said alternative energy is more attractive when the price of gas rises, and the price of gas is rising! What more proof do you need? (Well, except for there being no sane political motive to raise gas prices in an election year.)

The extraterrestrials could probably explain it, but President Obama refuses to talk about his plot with them. But that’s for tomorrow….


Happy Friday!

Editor’s Note: The original version of this story implied that Andrew Breitbart did, as a matter of fact, say “wait til they see what happens March first” in early February, in a conversation with a Sinclair News reporter. I found no story published prior to Breitbart’s death that included the quote.