The deepest thing I took away from reading American Conspiracy Theories was how hard it is to actually define the term. Especially while conducting the interview, I was forced to reexamine and redefine what I would personally qualify as a conspiracy theory. In other words, the book made me think -- especially about my own biases and perceptions.
Most of the rank-and-file conservatives with whom we might interact get their information from conservative media sources. Republican politicians are ensconced within it as well. Inside the walls of that closed environment, facts that do not jibe with conservative ideology or the conservative interpretation of events are twisted, turned on their head, or simply ignored.
Priebus can cut off contact with liberal media outlets to protest claims that he feels are unjust; however, if he is truly dedicated to reestablishing the Republican Party, he could start by looking in the mirror first because as these examples show there is nothing the liberal media can say that will make Republicans look worse than their own actions do.
Perhaps the reason Tim Jones and his colleagues are pushing legislation that could cripple public schools, destroy unions and eliminate a state income tax is because of "close, personal constituents" like retired St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who contributed $100,000 to Jones' reelection campaign.
You know, we make fun of Rep. Steve King for the way he opposes restricting dogfighting on the grounds that boxing exists, and isn't that the same thing? (No.) But you've got to hand it to King -- the man is an innovator. Scott Keyes (who I guess is on the Steve King beat these days, not that I'm complaining) has now caught King indulging in a little bit of Birther Calvinball. He's pretty sure that Obama's papers are legit, but you never know, because reasons. The whole point to Birtherism, though, is that you don't need to conclusively make this case to sell it. It's just that the buyers are all blithering loons.