Accuracy in Media

Vice created its own conspiracy theory while decrying a conspiracy theory.

Its claim is that Elon Musk is now not just supporting QAnon, but he’s turning Twitter into a hotbed of that conspiracy theory. That claim itself is clearly the creation of a new conspiracy theory.

Really, they are doing this: “Elon Musk Is Now Promoting QAnon.” The evidence is less than wholly and entirely convincing. It consists of this, only this, and completely this: “‘Follow [rabbit emoji],’ Musk tweeted.”

That’s the entire evidence base. Yes, some QAnon use that reference to the White Rabbit. So does the movie “The Matrix,” the older (of Musk’s sort of age and above) might well think of Jefferson Airplane, and of course there’s the original in Lewis Carroll. The reason the latter two use the reference is because of the cultural ubiquity of the first. So the use of it does need to be considered — is it because of the cultural ubiquity or is it that most modern and distinctly minority reference?

Vice has made up its mind:

“Caroline Orr Bueno, a behavioral scientist, tweeted, ‘Put differently, Elon Musk is encouraging 120 million followers to join a domestic terrorism movement.’”

Well, yes, there are conspiracy theories and there are conspiracy theories.

The world’s richest man (or perhaps second richest this week) uses a reference so standard in the English language that it appears in iconic pop songs and movies and the correct interpretation is that this is a call to terrorism?

It might not be Musk, or even QAnon, who are the conspiracy theorists here.

Vice ranks at 79 in the listing of news and media publishers online. It gains some 30.5 million visits a month as a result. It’s a larger outlet than that, the print magazine has a 900,000 distribution and the TV channel reaches 60 million U.S. homes on cable.

We all know there are conspiracy theories out there. But insisting that Elon Musk is encouraging, recommending, domestic terrorism because he refers to 90s movies, 60s pop music or 19th-century novels, well, that’s a heck of a conspiracy theory.

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