We’ve begun playing fast and loose with conspiracy theories, the way Trump has in the past. When BuzzFeed published the infamous Steele dossier — the document that made many allegations against Trump, including that he hired hookers to urinate on a bed he believed Obama had slept in — it did so with great chest-beating about its “ferocious reporting.” This brag came right alongside an admission they “have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them.” In fact some of the claims turned out to be easy to falsify, a fact that should have colored any release. And this all happened twelve days after the site’s editor-in-chief warned his staff in a published memo: “Fake news will become more sophisticated, and fake, ambiguous, and spun-up stories will spread widely.”
Since Trump’s presidency began, the media has filled up with mini celebrities, the hyper-tweeting game theorists who spin up conspiracies about who is a Russian agent. The answer turns out to be everyone one degree less hysterical about Trump than they are. This was after loads of Russia-related stories blew up in reporters’ faces, such as the story that the Trump campaign had a secret Internet server connecting to the Kremlin. The sloppiness and credulity extended to the American intelligence agencies, where reports on Russian influence included details about the reach of the RT Twitter account, a fact that required no intelligence to discover and low intelligence to think relevant or interesting.