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Salem Host Promotes Kamala Harris-Jussie Smollett Conspiracy Theory

Later deletes claim, but sorry, he’s not sorry.
by Jim Swift
February 23, 2019
Salem Host Promotes Kamala Harris-Jussie Smollett Conspiracy Theory
(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Kevin McCullough, a daily hour-long talk radio host for Salem media’s AM 970 in New York recently promoted a conspiracy theory about Kamala Harris on Twitter, only to delete it hours later.

The theory, as NBC’s Ben Collins reports, comes from the online message board 4Chan, notorious for conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and racist memes.

It is unclear how McCullough came across the theory, but it seems popular among the Q-Anon conspiracy crowd on Twitter. Naturally, some believer in the theory (or troll) temporarily edited Harris’s Wikipedia page. Or possibly it came from the pro-Trump Twitter personality Terrence K. Williams, who refers to Smollett as Harris’s “crazy nephew.

Whatever the origins, McCullough was quickly challenged on the veracity of his statement. His response was to shift the burden of proof to the people questioning his claim: “Source that debunks the evidence I’ve seen?” Typically, that’s not how it works in journalism. But whatever.

McCullough later deleted the tweet, but the fallout kept coming on Twitter, so he seems to have decided on a non-denial, block-and-bridge counterattack: Pointing to a 20+ day old tweet by Harris where she called the manufactured Jussie Smollett incident a “modern day lynching” with a bright red “SCAM ALERT!” graphic over it.

One user asks McCullough: “Is this meant to defend your provably false allegations?” And McCullough’s response to this, is, bizarre:

And, to others, McCullough has his whataboutism go-to line: “The same way she said ‘modern day lynching?'”

It is indeed ironic that Harris, who when questioning Brett Kavanaugh about his memory regarding conversations he had months earlier, couldn’t seem to remember a very recent tweet she posted that didn’t age well. And, like all of the 2020 candidates eager to weigh in on Smollett before the facts were known, she should be embarrassed/ashamed/chastened. She was in the wrong.

And just like McCullough, when Harris was confronted with the truth she bridged and counter-attacked and refused to apologize.

That’s the beauty of being wrong in the Trump era. You never have to say you’re sorry, because you can always point to why somebody was more wrong than you were. And in a few days, everyone will move on to the next outrage and forget that you fell for something that could have been debunked with a few quick internet searches.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.