In what was a very fast action precipitated by large quantities of available evidence, the person responsible for sending package bombs has been caught. His name is Cesar Sayoc, and unsurprisingly, he’s a Trump supporter.
A particularly avid one, actually; virtually a groupie. His van is covered with pro-Trump stickers and he’s been recorded at multiple Trump rallies. This was one of the two most plausible results, as was covered at TNB earlier in the week.
Now, however, we get to see one of the spawning points of conspiracy theory in action: the narrative.
The value of a good narrative is to frame events in a way that the presenter wants them to be perceived. In this case, the President had recently praised a Congressman for assaulting a member of the foreign press; he had been seen as dissembling on what was an obvious murder of a foreign journalist who had been under American protection; and he had recently tied himself to nationalists – an often violent strain of political isolationist.
Because of these associations with violence above and beyond the generally acrimonious tone of politics pushed on both sides of the aisle, Republican punditry decided that Trump needed defending. They chose to do so by presenting a possibility as if it were plausible or even likely.
People rarely like to think poorly of themselves or their decision making. That tendency has been addressed before, because it’s a key to understanding conspiracy promulgation. Rather than admit they made a wrong decision – even if they did not have all of the facts available – people will often grow defensive.
The pundits played to that fact, giving people a chance to excuse their blind eye to the nods Trump had been making toward violence. It was a false flag, it was something other than a person who had an animus toward any Democrat who spoke against the President.
When the truth came out, there was an opportunity for people to correct their mistakes. Instead, many pundits chose to ignore or downplay the new information; some even intimated that it could still be a secret plot, by pointing out seeming discrepancies.
This has resulted people seizing upon the chance to say they were not incorrect, that there was a secret plot… and it’s happening because of the same tendency that left them open to the argument in the first place. Now, instead of excusing the decision to let Trump run wild with his accusations, they’re excusing their decisions to blame it on a Democrat.
The “TRUTH!” is already out there… in two particular ways. First is Cesar Sayoc’s political affiliation. Some have found a purported registration of Sayoc as a Democrat, and have said this proves he was a plant. The issue with that is that even if it is true, it is old; Sayoc is known to have registered as a Republican, and has been an active Trump supporter since 2016. Just as Trump was a Democrat who shifted, Sayoc seems to have become a serious political partisan only in the last couple of years. For some reason, the notion that Trump – who claims to have always been (although research shows otherwise) staunchly against the Iraq War – would not attract another ex-Democrat who was staunchly against the Iraq War seems incomprehensible.
Another way is the cancelled stamps. If the packages are examined, it can be seen that some of the stamps don’t look like they were cancelled. It is true that stamps are usually cancelled… but not always. In this case, the local police and FBI were able to track the course of the package back from the mailroom through a courier, to the post office and to the original point of mailing. In order for it to have been falsified, both the police and the FBI would have to be “in on it”, and the couriers would have to be kept quiet. Or… a package, which don’t always have their stamps cancelled or occasionally go through sites where hand cancellation is done with pen, marker or lighter ink, would have to have been one of the ones that didn’t process with a standard mechanical cancellation and heavy ink.
In other words, a package would have had to have been delivered in the same way that thousands of other packages are delivered, or dozens of people would need to be in on the conspiracy. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the first explanation.
These are just the first two conspiracy theories to come out of the mess. I expect there will be more, as people would often convince themselves that they’ve been right all along rather than admit to themselves that a mistake was made.