A new conspiracy theory on the right – that a band of robbers made up of arsonists and jet pilots has sabotaged the national food supply – has attracted supporters of Donald Trump with the help of a Big names: Tucker Carlson.
Theory has no basis in practice. Last week, an image began going viral on Facebook showing local news headlines about fires and other accidents at US food processing plants that produce everything from Hot Pockets to potatoes. . The implication is that something is going on with the food supply, even if the conspiracy theorists themselves can’t explain what it is. The image spread to Telegram, the social media messaging app that became popular on the US right, with conservative figures like January 6 protest organizer Ali Alexander reposting it.
But despite the complete lack of evidence that anything unusual was happening, that didn’t stop Carlson from running a Fox News segment with the presumption dropped.
“There are industrial accidents, of course, but this is a lot of industrial accidents in food processing facilities,” Carlson said in an April 21 segment on his primetime show.
Carlson opens the segment by suggesting that a sinister plot is afoot, even if no one can explain what it is. He then kicks it off for his guest, says Seattle-based talk radio host Jason Rantz, who called the timing of the recent fires “very suspicious.”
“You’ve got some people speculating that this might be a deliberate way to disrupt the food supply,” says Rantz.
Despite what Carlson, Rantz, and an anonymous Facebook image say, there is no evidence of an unusual number of fires at US food processing plants. A review by Snopes found a similar number of fires in previous years. And while Carlson points to about a dozen fires as evidence of conspiracy theories, a 2017 Census report found that the US has 37,000 food processing plants – suggesting that a dozen fires would not affect significantly affect the food supply.
Right-wing blogs promoting conspiracy have also used an expanded definition of “recent”. For example, in the widely circulated image on Facebook, the first headline about a fire cited in the meme comes from January 2021, more than a year ago. A blog post by right-wing commentator Tim Pool about the fires cited the Tysons Meat fire from 2019 as evidence of a suspicious campaign of vandalism.
However, this brand new conspiracy theorist isn’t just suspecting a nationwide arson gang. They also arrested two recent crashes at food processing plants, at the Idaho potato plant and at the General Mills plant in Georgia.
Neither of those cases suggest a deliberate attempt to bring down the plane. In the Idaho crash, a UPS pilot crashed into a factory chimney that her father thought was positioned too close to the approach runway to the runway where she was trying to land. In Georgia, the plane crashed into a group of empty tractors in a remote area of the factory. Both incidents do not appear to have been targeted at a major establishment of the food supply.
Still, Carlson had questions.
“What’s going on here?” he asked on his show about plane crashes.
Even arsonists have struggled to explain the motive behind launching a sophisticated attack on food processing plants. There are often vague insinuations that Joe Biden’s administration is behind “attacks,” or fires, that are responsible for the increase in food prices. But it rarely explains why Biden would want to cause a pre-midterm famine by vandalizing a Hot Pockets facility, for example.
All the same, right-wing personalities have theories. On Stew Peters’ show on far-right personalities, an expert claimed nefarious forces – trying to cause the Holodomor famine in Ukraine – were behind industrial accidents.
Even Carlson, the most famous conspiracy theory proponent, struggled to figure out whether the number of fires was remarkable.
“What are the odds of that?” Carlson said. “I have no idea.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-rights-new-conspiracy-theory-involves-kamikaze-planes-and-food-fires?source=articles&via=rss New right-wing conspiracy theory involving Kamikaze planes and food fires