Ferguson deaths subject of ‘This American Life’ public radio program on conspiracy theories


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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — This American Life is a weekly radio program that airs on many public stations across the United States. The show, hosted by Ira Glass, is also one of the most popular podcasts available online. The episode posted last Friday called “Anything Can Be Anything” features this report on Ferguson, Missouri.

Host Ira Glass introduces Act One:

“Act One, Show-Me State of Mind. So many people who believe in conspiracy theories, you know they’re talking about secretive groups that are basically far away– rich and powerful people they’re never going to run into. But what about when the conspiracy looks like it’s happening all around you– like, has an impact on your actual city, on your actual neighborhood? And you’re worried that you could be its next victim. New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb heard about a conspiracy theory that is more along those lines.”

Listen to the entire episode here.

Reporter Jelani Cobb has been to Ferguson several times over the past four years to cover the events surrounding the death of Michael Brown. This time he went back to cover the deaths of six protesters and activists.

Cobb starts off the report with this statement:

“In the five years since Michael Brown’s death, about a half dozen people connected to the shooting and its aftermath have themselves turned up dead, including high-profile protesters and activists. And in at least a few cases, the circumstances under which they’ve died have been questionable, if not eerie, which has led to the belief that those deaths are part of a larger, coordinated effort– in short, a conspiracy.

I had already visited Ferguson about a half dozen times, met a lot of people, and wrote several articles. But that was three years ago. I decided to go back and ask some of them whether they believed in the conspiracy. I was interested in who did, and who didn’t, and why.”

There is a lot to take in from the people who live where these deaths are happening. Read the entire transcript here. 

Cobb ends his act with this thought, “Skepticism is fundamental to journalism. But it only works if you can recognize the times when you need to be skeptical of your skepticism, too.”

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