Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who was praised for having “one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world” by President Trump last month, told his listeners on Friday about an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims the New Zealand shooting massacre was actually a false flag attack conducted to boost the political left and the gun control movement.
Limbaugh said the accused gunman, who left 49 people dead at two mosques in Christchurch, could have been a gun control advocate rather than the anti-immigrant, white supremacist he claimed to be.
“There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may in fact be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s gonna get shot in the process,” Limbaugh said. “You can’t immediately discount this.”
After reading excerpts from the accused shooter’s 74-page manifesto that referenced U.S. politics and praised Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” Limbaugh added, “Now, if we’re to take this at face value, the guy’s objective here — and it probably is multifaceted — but one of his objectives is to continue to roil American society because he understands the leadership role America takes in the world, both culturally, economically, and politically.”
Jared Holt, a reporter who covers extremism for Right Wing Watch, told Newsweek that false flag claims served “two intermingled objectives.”
“The first aim is that the narratives will absolve figures on the Right that accelerate bigotry against minority groups from bearing any personal responsibility for the tragedy. The second, and perhaps most strategic, is to attempt to redirect the natural human revulsion to mass murder off of people on the Right and to wield it as another bludgeon against their ideological enemies” he said. “By writing off real violence and consequences for bigotry as a ‘false flag,’ it can provide enough cognitive dissonance for people to continue feeling justified in their bigoted beliefs.”