Trump's 'plane loaded with thugs' conspiracy theory matches months-old rumor

Source: NBC News | September 1, 2020 | Ben Collins

Evidence-free social media posts about groups of people coming to terrorize suburbs have thrived in recent months, inspiring some people to arm themselves.

The conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump pushed Monday that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” had been set to disrupt the Republican National Convention was almost identical to a rumor that went viral on Facebook three months ago.

In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Trump claimed that “we had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.”

He then claimed the matter was “under investigation right now.”

There is no evidence of any such flight. When Ingraham asked for more information about the flight, the president said, “I’ll tell you sometime.” He then alleged the people had been headed to Washington to disrupt the RNC.

Before mentioning the uniformed men who allegedly boarded the plane, Trump claimed that there are “people that are in the dark shadows” and “people that you haven’t heard of” controlling Democratic nominee Joe Biden.


The claim about the flight matches a viral Facebook post from June 1 that falsely claimed, “At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.” The post, by an Emmett, Idaho, man, warned residents to “Be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas,” and claimed one passenger had “a tattoo that said Antifa America on his arm.”

That post was shared over 3,000 times on Facebook, and other pages from Idaho quickly added their own spin to it, like the Idaho branch of the far-right militia group 3 Percenters.

One post claimed that “Antifa has sent a plane load of their people” and that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it. Within days, that version of the rumor picked up enough steam in Idaho Facebook groups that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office had to release a statement insisting that the viral rumor was “false information.”

Rumors of marauding bands of Antifa supporters have plagued local Facebook groups, chain emails and forwarded text messages since mid-May. One of the most viral rumors on an Antifa invasion into the suburbs was taken down after Twitter said it was created by a troll account with ties to white nationalists.


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  •  Consistent #42451

     Consistent #42452

     EVERYDAY #42465

    Well, a few years ago, I took a flight to Tampa and there were maybe a dozen or so passengers on that flight dressed in the same dark uniforms. They were part of a high school hockey team on their way to a tournament.

    Trump and his cult squawk all the time about “fake news” from the usual news outlets, so they rely heavily on social media for the real story. However, social media is probably the least reliable source of all. It’s true that the usual news outlets these days rely too heavily on unnamed sources which makes their reporting suspect. But social media “news” usually has no sources at all. A poster on Facebook claims he saw these alleged Antifa people on a plane. But where are photos or any other evidence showing these people? Do we know the poster was even on an airplane recently?

    But this is what Trump and his cult do. They take anything they see on social media and spread it around as if it was gospel truth. They don’t care whether the story is true or not, so long as it is favorable to Trump and comports to their preconceived notions and agenda.

     Consistent #42492

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