Brow Beat

Samantha Bee Takes Us Back Through America’s History of “Crisis Actor” Conspiracy Theories

We’re only halfway through 2018, and there have been 162 documented mass shootings, but a group of conspiracy theorists believes that some or all of these shootings were staged. They claim that the survivors interviewed on TV are “crisis actors,” trained and recruited by liberals and Democratic government officials to sway the public’s opinion in favor of stricter gun laws. “I wish the left were that organized,” said Samantha Bee in response to the theory, calling it an “idiotic conspiracy, one that rears its ugly troll head after nearly every American tragedy.”

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Bee tackled the subject of crisis actors on Wednesday night’s episode of Full Frontal, pointing out that America has a long history of crisis acting myths: In the 1860s, when African-Americans were invited to Washington, D.C. to testify about slavery and were compensated for their travel, apologists insisted that the testimonies were paid for, and therefore false. The same theories were also used to discredit the Little Rock Nine and other civil rights activists.

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“And now, even white children are being accused of being crisis actors,” Bee said in reference to accusations directed at Parkland survivors. “We really are post-racial.”

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Bee saved her sharpest jabs for Alex Jones over his insistence that Sandy Hook shooting, which left 20 young children dead, was a hoax. She referred to Jones as “a poisonous gummy bear,” and “a divorced barrel,” saying that he resembles “Frank Caliendo after being stung by hundreds of sweaty bees.” Jokes aside, Bee paused to make a serious point about just how many people follow Jones’ YouTube channel, which has more than two million subscribers, and to note that Donald Trump made a friendly appearance on his talk show.

“Thanks to the Internet, every random conspiracy theorist finally has something they never did before—access to a mainstream audience,” she said between one-liners. “And people are falling for it.”

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