On Wednesday, Donald Trump gave a mind-boggling press conference on the accusations of sexual assault facing his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, alternating between rambling thoughts on how a man named “Mr. Pillsbury” had said China has “total respect” for his “very, very large brain” and smearing the women behind allegations as part of a “con job.”
Along the way, he picked up a question from a reporter for little-known outlet TruNews—a website that characterizes itself as “the world’s leading news source that reports, analyzes, and comments on global events and trends with a conservative, orthodox Christian worldview.” In reality, it’s a fringe religious conspiracy network run by Florida minister and radio broadcaster Rick Wiles that frequently warns of the apocalyptic threat posed by non-whites, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ people, leftists, Catholics, demons, government death squads, FEMA camps, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind.
In other words, it’s Infowars, but a little more on the nose.
TruNews’ content includes accusations that prominent political personalities are secretly satanic cannibals and/or lizard people, End Times proclamations with a race-war twist, and panicked broadcasts claiming commandos in the employ of Jews and LGBTQ people are preparing to assault the White House and decapitate Trump and his family on the lawn. One recent post on TruNews ponders “Was Israel Behind the 9/11 Attacks?”, while another with an image of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein poorly manipulated to look like a reptile warns, “Wired Snakes in White House Plot to Overthrow President Trump”.
Just some very normal and real stuff that the fake news media won’t talk about.
TruNews’ correspondent on scene, Edward Szall, fortunately spared the nation a question about devil-worshiping reptilians and instead pitched the president a softball about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the “great deal” that would be coming.
“Mr. President, my name is Edward Szall from TruNews, Today you met with [Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu from Israel and you brought up, actually, that you support a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis there,” Szall asked.
“I do,” Trump replied.
“Can you give us any more preview of what this great deal, the peace deal-” Szall continued, before Trump cut him off with this rambling answer:
Well I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. You know, my whole life, I was told that’s the toughest people. And I disagree, I think health care is probably tougher, you wanna know the truth.
But it is tough, but we’re gonna take care of that too. That’s gonna get taken care of. We’ve already taken care of a lot of it. But the whole, my life, I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israeli and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal. Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we’re gonna make a deal. I think we’re gonna make a deal. So, uh, at one of our many meetings today I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man I have a lot of respect for, a man who has been extremely nice to me, we’re very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which by the way we’re gonna open in four months for less than $500,000.
Again, all extremely normal stuff going on here.
Of course, this is a president who is well known for absorbing dubious online misinformation like a sponge, and has cooked up his own conspiracy theories on everything from imaginary voter fraud to whether Google is secretly blacklisting him. Last year, his administration gave credentials to both Infowars and far-right blog Gateway Pundit, whose DC correspondent Lucian Wintrich characterized its mission to the New York Times as “doing a little trolling of the media in general here.” So it’s far from a surprise that TruNews was able to get in the room in the first place or that Trump took Szall’s question.
“Whether TruNews and its hosts truly believe lizard people exist is anyone’s guess, but the network has been using the description to smear its perceived opponents for a while,” Jared Holt, a researcher with progressive group Right Wing Watch, wrote to Gizmodo. “Rick Wiles and his TruNews network publish a hotbed of conspiracy theories that wouldn’t be out of place on Infowars. Wiles has bragged about his access to the White House press pool before and it is not surprising our conspiracy theorist in chief would give a question to his network.”