“I pray you will not be a journalist for the deep state,” Albert Samaha’s mother told him when he began working as a reporter for BuzzFeed News. As her son was publishing research on COVID-19 outbreaks and Donald Trump’s attempt to challenge the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, the mother took to Twitter to suggest that George Floyd was — contrary to what the government supposedly wanted her to think — alive and in hiding.
Samaha spent years trying to pull his mother out of the so-called rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, he wrote in a March BuzzFeed article, but has yet to succeed. He has tried presenting counterevidence to her propositions and pointing out contradictions in her worldview using simple logic. Unfortunately, each unsuccessful attempt only seemed to solidify the belief that her son had become a spokesperson for the “liberal media” ordered to “silence Patriots” like herself.
Samaha’s story isn’t unique: A 2021 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute estimated that as many as 15 percent of Americans follow QAnon, which claims that Donald Trump was elected to bring down a cabal of Democratic figureheads from drinking the blood of unborn children. Support for this particular theory solidified during the pandemic, when social media posts on the subject increased by 175 percent and 63.7 percent on Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
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