Fact is, when rural Arizonans talk about “law enforcement” over a plate of eggs and bacon, what they mean is punishing the weak. When they talk about their “liberty,” what they mean is their dominance. When they talk about their “traditional values,” what they mean is their control. A Times reporter can’t possibly know any of that. The problem is made worse when sources give voice to this or that conspiracy theory. She can’t know her sources aren’t delusional. She can’t know they aren’t crazy. She can’t know that conspiracy theories are central to their authoritarian view of the world. So she doesn’t report how dangerous their politics are.
She ends up reporting that some Americans believe, for instance, that a “secret cabal” of Democrats and other “radical leftists” in the “deep state” is, in addition to sexually molesting innocent children and perhaps eating them, too, trying to bring down Donald Trump. (This is the QAnon conspiracy you’ve read about lately.) What she should be reporting is that some Americans are willing to say anything to justify any action—violence, insurrection, even treason—to defeat their perceived enemies. Elite reporters, and some non-elite reporters who are following suit, keep talking about conspiracy theories as if they were a “collective delusion.” They are no such thing. The authoritarians who espouse them don’t care if QAnon is true. They don’t care that it’s false. Conspiracy theories are a convenience, a means of rationalizing what they already want to do, which is precisely what elite reporters can’t know and do not report.
"The Dangerous Fact About QAnon Believers That Reporters Fail to Grasp" – Religion Dispatches: