The SSRC is an independent, international, nonprofit organization. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that a member of the Proud Boys who was serving as an FBI informant had kept his bureau handler updated as he participated in the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The report was not surprising, given that the FBI was known to have informants in the group and given that dozens of people being watched by law enforcement were known to be in the area that day. The story, though, offered new insight into how the FBI was tracking the riot that day in real time.
What the story did not do is validate the conspiracy theory promoted by Tucker Carlson earlier this year that the Capitol violence was fomented by federal agents. And yet, on social media, that was the response: Because the Times showed some connection between the FBI and the rioters, that proved that Carlson’s presentation of a connection was accurate.
Again, it didn’t, for reasons that we’ll get into in a moment. But this phenomenon keeps repeating — a conspiracy theory declared to have been confirmed by an unrelated development — and bears examination on its own.