“This is a simple, logical video,” the text on the screen reads. “No aliens, holigrams, rituals or anything like that, just facts.” (All sic.) There’s some light piano (from Guns ‘n Roses’ “Estranged”) playing in the background. “New information comes up every single days, so by the time you see this video there may be a lot more evidence that has come to light.” In a few seconds, the guitar solo kicks in.
You’re watching “The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed,” the most comprehensive summary of the bizarre “Sandy Hook Truther” movement you can find on the internet. It’s also the most popular: in the seven days since it was posted, it’s racked up 5.5 million hits. (Less than 24 hours after this article was first published, it jumped to 8.5 million.) “I… honestly would have spent more time on it if I had known it would explode,” the guy who created the video told me.
It only took a few days after Adam Lanza opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School for conspiracy theories to pop up on the internet. We covered a bunch of them at the time, each less likely than the last: Lanza’s father was due to testify in hearings about a banking scandal, and the shooting was a distraction; Obama orchestrated the shootings to enact gun control laws; The Dark Knight Returns and/or Hunger Games predicted the shooting.
As it turns out, the one that stuck was maybe the most unlikely of all: the Sandy Hook elementary shooting never happened at all. Or, that it did, in some way, but not as it was reported — there was more than one shooter, or not as many children died, or the parents we saw on television were actors.
Over the last month or so, the “Sandy Hook Truther” movement has taken hold in the usual channels of internet conspiracy — sites like InfoWars and Natural News, message boards like Godlike Productions and Above Top Secret, and most importantly, on YouTube, where self-produced mini-documentaries like “The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed” can make the leap from obscurity to viral success without any mainstream coverage at all.
“[I]t all started when me and my friends used to research 9/11 in high school,” the auteur behind the video told me over email. (He declined to give me a name or personal information, “due to the sensitivity of the channel and my concern for my security,” and signed his emails T.O.T.V., after his YouTube channel’s title “ThinkOutsidetTheTV.”) “That’s what really got me started when it came to researching government cover ups […] Once I learned about all the false flag attacks in history that have been proven to be true, I knew it was only a matter of time before another came a long.”
The “false flag attack,” in which the true belligerents of an attack conceal their identities, is a common trope among conspiracy theorists, especially 9/11 Truthers, who believe the U.S. government (or another actor) destroyed the Twin Towers and pinned the attacks on Al Qaeda. While there are plenty of documented false flag attacks in history — all fervently cited by 9/11 true believers — they tend to be regarded by conspiracists as the rule and not the exception. Spend enough time in the YouTube conspiracy dregs and you see them everywhere.
Check it out yourself. Here’s the video mentioned and it includes some very interesting early news reports.
Here are some explanations from Salon;
Here’s a lot more detail from the conspiracy theory angle;