The media's dilemma: How to cover conspiracy theorists

For months, a man calling himself Bill Smith obsessed over the YouTube search rankings for QAnon, where his conspiracy-fuelled videos competed with those made by other believers for the top few slots on the list of results.

Last Wednesday, Mr Smith was dethroned by a rush of mainstream outlets, which each produced their own videos explaining the conspiracy theory after its existence suddenly went viral. In a livestream to 45,000 YouTube subscribers, Mr Smith looked at his diminished status - and sounded ecstatic. "I haven't been this happy in a very long time," he said. "CNN, NBC News, MSNBC, PBS News Hour, Washington Post, MSNBC, those are our new QAnon reporters!"


Thank you for reading The Straits Times

You have reached one of our Premium stories. To continue reading, get access now or log in if you are a subscriber.

What is Premium?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'The media's dilemma: How to cover conspiracy theorists'. Print Edition | Subscribe