LONDON — Mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc lived in an alternate universe where monstrous reptiles stalk people in Florida’s Everglades, a malevolent Jewish billionaire pays American children to stage school shootings and German politicians are secretly being conceived using Adolf Hitler’s frozen sperm.
Sayoc’s hallucinatory world, pieced together by The Associated Press from the digital residue of his now-disabled Twitter accounts, gives a hint of the toxic news diet of the Florida man who stands accused of mailing pipe bombs to more than a dozen of the United States’ most prominent left-leaning public figures.
“They are more prominent in our political discourse,” said Joseph Uscinski, the co-author of “American Conspiracy Theories,” who explained that President Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 in part by bringing “conspiracy-minded Republicans” to the polling booths.
Like Trump, Sayoc despised CNN, posting a photo montage on July 2 that appeared to threaten its New York headquarters with an inferno.
And also like Trump, who exults in degrading his opponents with mean nicknames, Sayoc came up with his own pet vocabulary for the targets of his ire, calling them “slime,” ‘’con job,” ‘’phony” or “fraud” in repetitive screeds.
“We have her birth record and factual facts,” Sayoc said of the senator, who happens to also be a favorite target of Trump’s rants.
Trump, who often sources his claims to anonymous people or to what “a lot of people are saying,” has in turn accused the media of making up stories about him and his partisans, a theme he returned to only hours after Sayoc was brought into custody.
“We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party,” Trump told supporters at a rally in North Carolina on Friday.
Critics said Trump boosted conspiracy theories floated by his media allies that the devices weren’t real when he put the word “bomb” in quotation marks.
But Enders did say that the promotion of paranoid thinking by Trump and others at the highest levels of the Republican establishment might have a hardening effect on those already ensconced in conspiracy theories.
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