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Right-wing personalities are pushing conspiracy theories about Monday’s fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, even after French investigators said the case is not being investigated as arson or terrorism.
Within minutes of the fire breaking out yesterday, pro-Trump commentators rushed to portray it as a symbol of Western decline. “The West has fallen,” declared Mike Cernovich.
Others were eager to suggest, without evidence, that Muslims were behind the fire. Gateway Pundit dredged up a three-year-old terrorist plot to blow up Notre Dame as proof that this fire was caused by terrorists. Fox News anchors had to repeatedly shut down guests who tried to push the idea that the fire was caused by terrorists. QAnon believers produced a wide range of theories, blaming the fire on everyone Michelle Obama to the deep-state to Pope Francis.
On Tuesday, French fire investigators said there was no evidence that the fire was caused by arsonists or terrorists. Rather than tamping down the conspiracy theories, though, the French statement has only fueled the idea on the right that terrorists were behind the fire. Instead, they’re treating the announcement as proof that the investigators can’t be trusted.
Pardes Seleh, a former Mediaite writer and Ben Shapiro acolyte, has become one of the leading arson truthers.
“Lemme put it this way: i'd be very shocked if it was an accident,” Seleh tweeted on Tuesday. “And no, french authorities announcing at the start of an investigation that they're ‘treating it as an accident’ doesn't count. french authorities are incompetent, we'd confirmed that long ago.”
Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec, now a reporter at the pro-Trump One America News cable channel, also suggested without evidence that the fire investigation was a coverup.
“Fastest arson investigation in history,” Posobiec tweeted.
The groundwork for the idea that the French investigation can’t be trusted was laid out Monday night by Glenn Beck, who has recently abandoned his attempts to style himself as a lonely voice of reason in the Trump era and gone back to his conspiracy theory roots.
Beck claimed that, if the fire was caused by terrorists, the truth would never be revealed.
“If this was started by Islamists, I don’t think you’ll find out about it,” Beck said in an appearance on The Blaze. “Because I think it would set the entire country on fire.”
Since the French investigators announced the lack of arson evidence, Beck has been joined by several other right-wing figures. Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian YouTube personality, questioned the validity of the fire investigation. So did Emerald Robinson, another reporter at One America News.
“Dear media: you are already reporting that Notre Dame has been declared an accident. But the investigation just started,” Robinson tweeted. “And the restorers had already left for the day. And the scaffolding had just gone up with no ‘welding equipment’ there yet. Tell me again how it started?”