You don't have to go far down the rabbit hole to find plenty of ridiculous GOP-led conspiracy theories. In fact, what was once only considered fodder for radio host / conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has now become everyday rhetoric for much of the Republican mainstream. Some of these most recent claims, all centering around Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are enough to leave your head spinning. Whether or not there's a shred of truth behind any of them is, it seems, irrelevant to a GOP that's desperate to cling onto anything that makes Clinton look bad.
The conspiracy theories are vast, complex, and varied, but for the sake of time (and our brains), I'll focus on three that have been pushed into the spotlight of late. Each have been peddled by far-right publications throughout Clinton's 2016 run for the White House, and have more recently been picked up by top conservative news outlets (and Republican nominee Trump himself). Some theories have even dogged her for years.
It's a lot to take in, but I'll do my best to distill each down to its most absurd core.
1. Clinton Is Sick
To start things off, there's the notion that Clinton is sick (both physically and mentally), and is therefore unable to serve as president in any capacity. While this theory has been batted around by conservative commentators for years, it received new life in recent weeks, when mainstream conservative outlets began circulating photos which purportedly showed evidence of Clinton's "poor health." One years-old photo showed Clinton being helped up a flight of stairs, suggesting that the nominee's heart is weak (though there are countless others of her climbing stairs without help). A second photo, largely touted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, showed Clinton making a face to cameras. This, to Hannity, suggested that she was having a seizure (because of course it did).
Trump also recently boasted some now-debunked falsified medical records which he claimed belonged to Clinton. Conservative outlets were happy to jump on his bandwagon, claiming that the records had been leaked.
2. Clinton's Top Aide Worked For A "Radical Muslim" Publication
The second theory, that Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin worked at a "radical Muslim" publication which frequently espoused anti-feminist views, was circulated by The New York Post over the weekend. The newspaper claimed that Abedin served as an assistant editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a publication which they claimed "blamed the U.S. for 9/11." Abedin's mother, the Muslim World League’s delegate to the UN, works as the paper's editor-in-chief.
The New York Post article then rattled off a list of articles published by the journal (none of which were written by Abedin), but fails to draw a clear-cut conclusion. It ends by simply asking readers how voters could trust Clinton when she knowingly allowed someone like Abedin into her inner circle.
This isn't the first time Abedin has been subject to racist conspiracy theories simply due to her Muslim heritage. Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News and recent addition to the Trump campaign, is fond of suggesting that Abedin has ties to Muslim terrorists. In a July interview with conservative radio host Roger Stone, Bannon joked that he couldn't "figure out how she got the security clearance."
3. Clinton Murdered A DNC Staffer
And finally, there's the theory that Clinton murdered a DNC staffer. Unlike the previous two claims, this one finds its origins not from the bowels of right-wing media, but from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He has hinted that the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich was a Clinton-led inside job. Rich was tragically gunned down in his D.C. home in July, but as Snopes' extensive debunking finds, it was likely a robbery gone wrong. Even Rich's parents have asked for the conspiracy theories to please stop already.
Unfortunately, they haven't. Conspiracy theorists, as well as Assange, have latched onto the idea that Rich was killed because he provided evidence to WikiLeaks regarding the Clinton email scandal which could have brought the Democratic nominee down.
It then became easy for right-wing media to fan the flames. Conservative radio host and Trump adviser Stone again amplified these claims when he suggested that Clinton has left a "body count" in her wake. It didn't take long for other conservative outlets to hop on board that crazy train.
It doesn't matter that D.C. police have speculated that this was a failed robbery, or that Rich's own family has shot this theory down. What matters is that it is yet another thing to pin on Clinton.
All of this is to say that much of the GOP is willing to jump on any and all Clinton conspiracy theories, no matter how many times they're debunked. Their tried-and-true tactics have worked on voters in the past, and with Clinton closer to the presidency than ever before, the GOP is more than ready to hurl itself down that rabbit hole.