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Danielle Smith's Magical Mystery Media
A special dispatch about Alberta's conspiracy-theorist-in-chief and her penchant for antisemitic blogs.
Last Friday, I revealed how Alberta’s new premier, Danielle Smith, was espousing all manner of anti-scientific mumbo jumbo on her members-only locals.com page.
And boy did that ever blow up.
This week, on a very special Bug-eyed and Shameless dispatch, I want to break down some new bonkers comments from the Alberta premier and explain why this lunacy really matters.
The attempted politicization of my newsletter by Danielle Smith and her allies is offensive and inappropriate. Subscribe now.
The misinformation beat is a difficult one.
On one hand, the proliferation of conspiracy theories and targeted disinformation has intensified over the past few years in a way that we are still grappling with — it will have an effect that we haven’t entirely understood.
At the same time, journalists have had a bad habit of seizing on every half-truth, unconventional policy position, and slip-up — crying “misinformation!” and letting slip the dogs of war.
Danielle Smith is an iconoclast in a province that loves its iconoclasts, in a country that desperately needs more of them. Being a maverick isn’t in-and-of-itself a problem: If you ask me, it’s a good thing. The fight against misinformation can’t be about clipping the wings of those who prefer unconventional sources of information and alternative ways of thinking.
But being a rebel can’t be an excuse to live in a fantasy world.
Our real test for whether a politician’s nonsense rises to the level of meriting a public shaming: Are they exploiting, and worsening, paranoia and distrust in a way that could harm themselves, others, or society as a whole? As we covered in last week’s dispatch, Danielle Smith has absolutely done that.
There’s a second question that I didn’t really get into: Does the politician’s descent into fairytales and nonsense betray a total media illiteracy and lack of critical thinking skills?
Let’s get a little bit into how the answer to that is an alarming “yes.”
Dr. Peter McCullough
I had the great pleasure of talking to Dr Peter McCullough this week in attempting to identify an expert witness for our case to restore the right to treat and the right to receive treatment.
March 13, 2022 newsletter
McCullough is a cardiologist who has espoused all kind of quackery since the beginning of the pandemic. He, like many others, have endorsed ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — two drugs that we know do not work in treating COVID-19. (To his credit, he has also endorsed many other therapeutics that either do work, or might help. However, nobody is actually discrediting those treatments.)
In April 2021, he told The New American “We are sitting on the biggest number of vaccine deaths. There have been tens of thousands of hospitalizations all attributable to the vaccine." He added that COVID-19 was “probably bioterrorism.”
Dr. Patrick Phillips, Dr. Roger Hodkinson, and Dr. Dennis Modry
For her show on the Western Standard, Smith decided to profile three “deplatformed” doctors.
“Deplatformed” is, of course, one way of saying “suspended for misconduct.”
One, Dr. Patrick Phillips, is an ER physician who was suspended from the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons for, amongst other things “inappropriate reporting of adverse events following immunization.” He has tweeted support for a “Nuremberg 2.0” — the idea that we should try doctors, public health experts, and politicians for endorsing the vaccine, in the same way we prosecuted Nazi war criminals. The courts have shot down Phillips’ legal objections to the College’s investigation.
Dr. Roger Hodkinson was certified as a general pathologist in 1976, but has repeatedly inflated his credentials. He has claimed that COVID-19 is the “biggest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspected public.” He served as an advisor to the occupation in Ottawa earlier this year, where he told a room full of anti-vaxxers that “the use of it [the vaccine] resulted in a great number of deaths and complications.”
Dr. Dennis Modry, a heart and lung surgeon, was “deplatformed” in 2015 because he abruptly cancelled two surgeries and had a history of problems in his practise. He hasn’t practised since 2013.
The insurance death claims
A frequent topic of Smith’s posts are around an expected surge in insurance claims — which, she expects, will prove the vaccines are dangerous and even deadly.
In a February 20 newsletter, Smith writes: “I’ve been watching stories about insurance claims for a month since OneAmerica reported a 40 per cent increase in non-COVID related death benefits in Q3 of 2021.”
Here’s a prime example of Smith’s media illiteracy: Indianapolis-based insurance company OneAmerica did report a 40% increase in pre-COVID death benefit payouts. The insurer, however, specifically attributed that increase to virus. Company CEO Scott Davidson said in a speech: “What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.”
In other words: COVID deaths are driving the surge, we may be under-counting those deaths, and there may be other reasons for that increase. (Such as tightened healthcare capacity as a result of all the COVID patients.)
Where did Smith get the idea that this spike is from non-COVID deaths? Well in her newsletter, Smith links to ZeroHedge, an infamous conspiracy website affiliated with Infowars. The U.S. has called out the website for laundering Russian propaganda.
The ZeroHedge story points to those insurance claims and makes the sweeping statement: “The implication to many was clear — that the Covid-19 vaccine is linked to the excess mortality, and months of vaccine injury reports were now spilling over to actuarial data.” To that end, they quote Edward Dowd, a former Blackrock Fund manager who has recently wrote a book with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. alleging that the vaccines have caused a surge in deaths that are being covered up.
Smith summarizes the ZeroHedge story: “[Dowd’s] advice is to go on long funeral homes and short on insurance companies. Maybe tongue in cheek. Maybe not.”
The Worst Kennedy
As I wrote last week, Smith’s affinity for Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the world’s most vocal anti-vaxxer, is depressing.
In her newsletter, she tells her subscribers she “would suggest following” the Children’s Health Defence, Kennedy’s organization.
The organization is totally and completely batshit.
They have run advertising campaigns trying to dissuade Black communities from taking the vaccine, they’ve been banned from various social media platforms for pumping out medical misinformation, alleged there is a wave of vaccine-induced deaths, and has said the vaccine is a Marxist plot to destroy America.
“Libertarians and Conservatives Who Care”
A feature of Smith’s newsletter was a running competition to pick the best libertarian and conservative cause to support.
Smith encouraged her followers to chip in $100: The money would go into a prize pot. After weeks of voting, six top-listed organizations would plead their case over a Zoom call, and two winners would split the money.
Some of those candidates were at least semi-mainstream: Including True North News and Canada Strong and Free (formerly the Manning Centre.)
Others are…less so.
On the list is Action4Canada, an organization that thinks the COVID-19 vaccine is being used to microchip us for 5G surveillance. I’ve written plenty about them:
Also on the list is climate change denialism organizations Climate Discussion Nexus and Friends of Science — the latter of which has historically received ample money from oil and gas companies.
Apparently, the first round of awards saw $20,000 split up between the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and the Canadian COVID Care Alliance, the latter organization has railed against the vaccines and claimed (wrongly) that they “have NOT been proven safe.”
The winners this time around were True North and the Freedom Convoy 2022 Legal Defence fund.
“A new geopolitical realignment...”
In an April newsletter entitled “Is there Going to Be a Central Bank Digital Currency? Almost Certainly,” Smith looks at the effect of the United States kicking Russia off the SWIFT payment system.
Smith points to an essay which suggests that such a currency shift “signals the end of Western domination and that we are going to find ourselves isolated from the rest of the world.”
The essay she links to is written by French conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan — author of 9/11: The Big Lie, which argues that, surprise, Bush did it. Meyssan makes the case that U.S. sanctions are illegal and unjustified. The whole post is slavishly complimentary to both Russia and China, but I think this one sentence sums up Meyssan’s point very well:
The Ukrainian affair shows that Moscow does not seek to take power in Kiev and occupy Ukraine, but to push back NATO and fight the Banderites (the “neo-Nazis” according to Kremlin terminology). Nothing but very legitimate, even if the method is brutal.
It’s no wonder she ended up saying bullshit like this:
Meyssan’s essay was republished on a blog site called Algora, which Smith links to directly. Algoa is, in a word, very antisemitic.
Even if you were to take a cursory scroll through this one essay, you would likely notice the list categories on the sidebar: One of the most popular, with 77 posts, is “It’s All About Jews.” The website features some stunningly blunt Holocaust denialism and anti-Jewish content, including the assertion that “world jewry on March 24, 1933 declared war on Germany.” Another post, entitled “For Its Security and Survival, China Must Understand Rothschild Zionism,” proclaims “China is not the enemy. China is a friend. Humanity’s enemy is the international banker.”
How Smith wound up on this website is a mystery for the ages.
But however she got there, she kept coming back!
Smith also linked to Algora in February, when she posted a rundown of “FAKE NEWS Stories Coming out of Ukraine.” (The post largely just goes over pro-Ukraine misinformation that popped up from idiots on Twitter, and was being published in the early weeks of the war — misinformation that was being constantly corrected by the mainstream media and often Kyiv itself.)
In that February newsletter, Smith also goes on to quote a piece from Revolver News — a far-right pro-Trump website that once called for the national guard to summarily execute Black Lives Matter protesters in the streets.
She then shares a video from, she writes, “a podcaster imbedded [sic] in Kyiv.”
The title of the video she links to is: “What Russia Wants From Its Invasion of Ukraine—and Why Zelensky Is Evil,” from Gonzalo Lira — a.k.a Coach Red Pill.
“The Russians, they don’t want to destroy Ukraine, no, they don’t want to destroy it at all. What they want to do is capture it — in tact,” Lira says in the video. “They don’t want to hurt the civilians, why would they?” He goes on to say that it is “evil” for Ukrainians to defend themselves, explaining that Russia’s shelling of apartment complexes is justifiable in that context.
Lira isn’t a journalist, he’s a pro-Kremlin influencer who has been lauded by the Kremlin for his work in denying the massacres of civilians in Bucha and inventing Ukrainian “false flag” attacks. Oh, and he’s a raging antisemite.
Who Runs The World?
In a February newsletter, Smith linked to a Substack about the history of the anti-Smallpox vaccine movement. (It’s an interesting read, even if I think the exact opposite conclusion is more compelling.)
She wrote: “I was reminded, once again, of a video circulating by a Dutch researcher on the enormous institutional investment that has integrated Big Money, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Media and all other Big Business under the umbrella of two major investment funds, Vanguard and BlackRock.”
In that paragraph, Smith links to a post from Lew Rockwell, chairman of the Mises Institute. (And, presently, a prominent Putin apologist) which includes a video produced by a Dutch “researcher” who goes by “Covid Lie.”
The video asserts that there is a coming “new world order” that will presided over by a global elite, including Vanguard, BlackRock, George Soros, Bill Gates, and the World Economic Forum. The video, citing the “event 201” conspiracy theory, argues that COVID-19 was orchestrated by the “globalists.” (Smith mentions Event 201 elsewhere in her newsletter, albeit in a less conspiratorial context.)
As the blog post on Rockwell’s site summarizes: “It is clear that the ‘pandemic’ was orchestrated.”
Smith, to her credit, offers a modicum of skepticism: “I’m not entirely sure that owning 1 to 5 per cent of a company allows them to wield the extraordinary influence described in the video.” And yet, she continues: “But it is fair to say that a lot of the elite class like to get together at conferences to talk about how we’d all be better off if only we just let them manage our lives. There are a great many fellow travellers who are clearly intoxicated with the idea of power and control.”
But Smith proceeds to cite specific timecodes in the video that demonstrate, she says, “These guys can’t stop bragging about how easy it is to manipulate us.”
Part of an unbalanced media breakfast
Danielle Smith is media illiterate.
Put another way, in her own words: "When I was in politics, my staff said, ‘Danielle, you have no crazy radar.'“
When Danielle Smith seeks out news from the pro-Kremlin Centre for Research on Globalization; or The Gateway Pundit, always on the hunt for the fabled Antifa false flag attack, she underscores the fact that she cannot separate truth from fantasy.
We can’t expect that everyone thoroughly vet every single source they encounter. But ask yourself: How often do you share antisemitic blogs? I hope the answer is “never” or as close to “never” as you can reasonably achieve.
Smith does not do any due diligence when someone sends her a link, or even before she shares it with her tens of thousands of followers — not even a cursory look to see if she is receiving her geopolitical news from a website that proclaim our true enemy is “the international banker.” She internalizes the information and passes it on.
And she’s proud of it! She’s written on her Locals page that any news outlet critical of her brand of deranged politics, it ought to be discounted entirely:
If you read an article or hear a speech calling something dangerous, trans-phobic, racist, alt-right, oppressive, conspiracy theory, misinformation or contributes to climate change you should definitely consult another source.
Elsewhere, she wrote — in reference to Russia’s war:
As I look through the stories being posted on Ukraine it feels like people think they need to choose a side. I’m finding there’s so much propaganda from both sides I don’t fully believe anything I’m reading or seeing these days.
But that’s true, of course. She has created a double-standard, like many in alt-media land. She inherently distrusts anything that approaches the conventional wisdom — even if that wisdom is supported by empirical fact, such as the vaccines are safe and effective — and implicitly trusts anything that questions that wisdom, even if it as crazy as George Soros planned COVID-19.
Many of the links that Smith shared in her newsletter came from members of her community on Locals. She values proximity, both physically and ideologically, over the need to challenge her own worldview. That is one of the worst imaginable qualities in a leader.
How can any person trust that Danielle Smith is going to read memos, prepared by her deep state bureaucracy; or listen to briefings from public health officials, whom she believes are responsible for administering a murder vaccine?
This isn’t just about a politician who believes bad and wrong things — this is about a politician who has decided to live in her own world, with her own facts, with her own sources of reality.
Good luck, Alberta.
I’ll be launching another members-only open thread tomorrow. And expect Bug-eyed and Shameless to return to regular programming on Friday!