Skip to main content Accessibility
conspiracy propagandist icon

Conspiracy Propagandists

Conspiracy propagandist groups spew assertions that aim to delegitimize government institutions or government officials. A few of these beliefs include fears around door-to-door gun confiscations, martial law, supposed takeover of the U.S. by the New World Order and anxieties around the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Top Takeaways

Conspiracy propagandists are part of the antigovernment movement. These groups intentionally spread disinformation and advance misinformation about government institutions and officials.

Although antigovernment conspiracy theorists target government officialdom, these ideas are usually rooted in racist, antisemitic and sometimes nativist beliefs. Conspiracy theories have long been a staple in American political discourse, and today, extremists continue peddling these narratives to cast doubt on democratic processes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has, over the years, reported on some of the more egregious assertions that conspiracy theorists make, a handful of which have spilled over from decade to decade. Some of the more persistent conspiracy theories have been adopted as core beliefs within conspiracy propagandist circles.

Beginning in 2016, extremists started to adopt, and in some cases, merge prior conspiracies leading to the QAnon movement. Since former President Donald Trump has left office, QAnon has persisted and spread, in addition to and at times in conjunction with the "Big Lie" narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, theories about activities and groups at the southern U.S. border and conspiratorial sovereign beliefs that the U.S. government, acting as a corporation, has defrauded its citizens.

Antigovernment groups advocating "Q" theories have used them as a foundation to build membership among their ranks. Organizations such as the America Project and ReAwaken America use "Q" rhetoric and openly network with QAnon influencers to attract more followers. Adherents of this conspiracy movement have also been recently spotlighted for their heinous crimes, including Igor Lanis of Walled Lake, Michigan, who killed his family and David DePape, who is accused of attacking former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer.

Additionally, along the border, antigovernment extremists and some elected officials in Congress continue to elevate uncorroborated narratives that paint migrants as dangerous and violent. These theories have, at times, been validated by some elected officials. Antigovernment extremists continue to distrust U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and depict the federal agency as a secret network of child traffickers.

Although the conspiracy theory that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election due to voter fraud has been debunked, the premise of the "Big Lie" endured into 2022. In fact, it was a steadfast campaign narrative for some during the 2022 mid-term elections. After a divisive campaign season, many major candidates supporting the “Big Lie” lost their bid for office after winning in GOP primaries. Losses included figures such as Mark Finchem and Kari Lake in Arizona races for secretary of state and governor, respectively; Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania gubernatorial race; and Michael Peroutka in Maryland election for attorney general.

There has been a noted rise in sovereign citizens groups. New chapters have been added to existing groups that consider themselves assemblies, and new organizations with assemblies have emerged. These groups have been perpetuators of the "Big Lie" narrative.

QAnon adherents mobilized to counter Critical Race Theory and a reemergence of Red Scare-like talking points surrounding hysteria over such ideologies as communism, socialism and Marxism that have been around since the establishment of the John Birch Society in 1958.

Conspiracy theories regarding Marxist threats are now gaining steam in other circles as well. During 2022, radical parent groups espoused conspiracy theories as part of their general narratives, claiming that public schools and the government are attempting to sexualize and indoctrinate children with their progressive Marxist agenda. Anyone who disagrees is labeled a “groomer” or is grooming and sexualizing children. These groups believe it is up to the parents to save children from the government and public school.

Also in line with the Marxist globalist conspiracy, the theory of the New World Order, which hypothesizes a secret totalitarian world government. The Great Reset initiative, spearheaded by the World Economic Forum (WEF), focuses on rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing sustainable development. Several individuals and organizations have claimed that this push is simply the WEF’s efforts to capitalize on the pandemic to create a New World Order, a communist scheme to create a totalitarian world government. This theory has been picked up and disseminated by conspiracy theorist and extremist Alex Jones, right-wing student group Turning Point USA, among others.

Key Moments

In 2022, a Connecticut jury ordered Alex Jones of Infowars to pay nearly $1.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the families and staff affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that he publicly claimed to be a hoax.

What’s Ahead

In November 2022, Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential bid, setting the stage for the election fraud narrative to continue. This came only a month after the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, which was investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol complex, unanimously voted to subpoena Trump to testify before them.

As we continue to see large scale fallout from the Jan. 6 attack in the form of criminal convictions, which was a result of the “Big Lie” narrative, there have been noticeable changes in antigovernment organizations. For instance, the Southern Poverty Law Center has observed a rise in "patriot" groups, which mostly formed as a response to COVID-19 and vaccine mandates, but now focus spreading on their versions constitutional education and election lies. They also concentrate their efforts on trying to get extreme, right-wing politicians elected.

Additionally, looking back on the fluctuations in the endurance of the Red Scare conspiracy theories, we can expect the ideas on Marxism and Communism to gain steam, particularly around the Great Reset and the presence of Marxism in public education.


The modern-day conspiracy propagandist is fueled by the belief that American ideals are being eroded by liberal forces that aim to destroy the country from the inside out. The goal of this supposed cabal of liberal elites is to establish a communist/socialist/Marxist regime and renounce U.S. sovereignty, instead choosing to opt into a one-world government.

Paranoia is at the center of propagandist messaging. These individuals peddle narratives that paint the world as a battlefield between the forces of good and evil. The ideas, often riddled with misinformation and disinformation, target institutions and public figures that exist in contrast to their worldview. The issues faced by society today are depicted in apocalyptic terms that leave no room for compromise.

Extremists under the antigovernment conspiracy propagandist designation focus on presenting false, sometimes even fabricated information, as fact. With the emergence of social media, propagandists leveraged the ability to reach large numbers of uniformed people and flood online spaces with wild unsubstantiated claims decrying government institutions and key figures as being “tyrannical.” As a result, conspiracies have been allowed to flourish in an environment where misinformation and disinformation are dispersed among considerable amounts of valid and verified content.

Today, misinformation and disinformation have become crucial in helping sustain dangerous conspiracy theories, in some cases even supercharging narratives that have, as a result, mobilized large swaths of disgruntled Americans.

As historian Richard Hofstadter pointed out in his 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” conspiracies have always had a place in American history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, fears surrounding such groups as the Illuminati, the Masons and the Catholic Church were weaponized for political purposes. Today, baseless claims asserting plots to destroy the current political system, American values and cultural norms continue to find their way into political discourse.

The conspiracy propaganda wave we see today came out of the 1970s racist and antisemitic Christian Identity movement. Christian Identity adherents believe white Northern Europeans are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, Jewish people are actually descendants of Satan, and nonwhites are “mud peoples.” Many of the key conspiracies that define the conspiracy propagandist classification under SPLC’s antigovernment designation were born out of antisemitic falsehoods.

Those falsehoods were first popularized by antisemites such as William Potter Gale, who was instrumental in merging Christian Identity beliefs with a growing tax-protest, antigovernment movement. Gale preached about the Posse Comitatus, a set of principles that place ultimate government authority at the county level dictating the county sheriff as the highest authority and placing emphasis on common law, instead of constitutional law, as the foundation for government.

Strands of antisemitic and nativist beliefs are present in current antigovernment conspiracies.

Some of these ideas include the belief in an impending New World Order, the idea that a secret cabal of powerful elites with globalist agendas is conspiring to rule the world through a one-world government. According to antigovernment conspiracy propagandists, the initiative would be facilitated by the United Nations’ nonbinding environmental climate agreement, known as Agenda 21/2030. Among conspiracy propagandist groups like the John Birch Society, Agenda 21/2030 is seen not as an agreement to reduce human impact on the environment, but instead as a blueprint to create a single government under a communist regime.

By the 1990s, such incidents as the standoff at Ruby Ridge, the Waco siege and the Oklahoma City bombing served as catalysts for conspiracy propagandists to vilify government agencies. Events involving law enforcement provided fertile ground for far-right extremists to double down on fears around mass gun confiscation. Combined with angst around the militarization of police forces, the events in this period culminated in the creation of two of the most influential antigovernment conspiracy propagandist organizations of the last two decades: WorldNetDaily and Infowars.

As the 20th century came to a close, far-right conspiracy theories thrived as the U.S. kick-started the “War on Terror.” Nativist talking points were elevated in antigovernment conspiracy theories, emphasizing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim propaganda.

In the early 2000s, fears of “others” helped inspire waves of minutemen to appear at the Southern border under the pretense of defending the country from a supposed invasion. The conspiracy theories peddled by Alex Jones’s Infowars, Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily, and the John Birch Society pushed false concepts like “open borders” and the idea that the Democratic Party is helping facilitate an influx of migrants. Some conspiracy propagandists attempted to appear as legitimate news outlets and drove the fake news trend. As the U.S. continues to struggle with the best way to handle the migrant crisis at the Southern border, propagandists have managed to loop these theories back to antisemitic beliefs by tying the issue to Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros as a leading figure allegedly funding migrant caravans with the aim to destroy the country’s identity.

By 2008, as former President Barack Obama was preparing to take office, antigovernment extremists reacted with contempt at the idea of swearing in the first Black U.S. president. They mobilized resentment to demographic changes and economic instability fueling antigovernment activity and wild conspiracies. As a result, SPLC documented a record number of active antigovernment organizations in 2010 and exposed the unfounded claims that emerged in far-right circles denouncing Obama as a secret Muslim, a Kenyan naturalized citizen and demonic being.

The paranoia and skepticism around the U.S.’s democratic processes eventually reached a boiling point under the Trump administration. Between 2016 and 2020, old conspiracies were repackaged into such concepts as “the Deep State,” “Q Anon,” “Migrant Caravans,” “COVID-19 Chinese bioweapons” and the “Stop the Steal” narrative.

Unlike his predecessors, Trump openly engaged, reaffirmed and even helped establish popular conspiracy theories as valid ideas worthy of discussion in the mainstream. With aid from longtime conspiracy theorists, Trump and his ilk were able to cast a blanket of doubt regarding the legitimacy of government institutions, elected officials and electoral procedures, leading to a crystallization of distrust and anger in the minds of his most loyal followers. The result of four years of politically charged antigovernment messaging was an attack on our current political system and served as the catalyst for the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In 2021, Trump fanatics continued pushing the false narrative that the 2020 general election was stolen. Right-wing propagandists continued advancing the idea that China released the COVID-19 virus into the world as a bioweapon to cripple the economy. Conspiracy theorists incorporated anti-LGBTQ falsehoods and targeted school curriculum and teachers. Conspiratorial ideas about the existence of antifa as a communist violent organization underpinned some groups’ actions. QAnon-related conspiracies about sex trafficking and the return of John F. Kennedy were prominent in 2021-2022. Distrust also spread from the virus’s origin to the COVID-19 vaccine. Old fears around FEMA concentration camps were again embraced by antigovernment extremists and unproven claims around the COVID-19 vaccine increased vaccination hesitancy.

Prominent organizations

Infowars – Founded by longtime antigovernment conspiracy theorist and supplement salesman Alex Jones, the site has become a one-stop shop for an ever-growing list of uncorroborated stories. From atrazine in drinking water turning frogs gay, to gorilla-pig chimeras, to voter fraud conspiracies, Jones has managed to branch out his program into a propaganda outlet specializing in mobilizing his loyal base to go after anyone he doesn’t agree with. Harassment campaigns stemming from conspiracies shared on his platform have targeted grieving families, elected representatives, government agencies and advocacy groups across the political spectrum. In December 2021, Jones sued the House Select Committee to block subpoenas and withhold his testimony and records pertaining to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Jones was a major figure in attendance that day and primarily used his platform to rile up Trump’s base before the capitol was stormed. In 2022, a Connecticut jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $1.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the families and staff affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that he publicly claimed to be a hoax.

WorldNetDaily (WND) – Founded in 1997 and the product of Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, WorldNetDaily is a conspiracy-fueled online outlet that’s inundated with theories ranging from antigovernment fabrications to anti-LGBTQ misinformation and anti-Muslim falsehoods. The site was one of the prime propagators of the Obama birther conspiracy as well as a frequent producer of end-of-the-world theories. Most recently, the site has focused on spreading anti-vaccine narratives and blasting liberal movements and politicians as agents working to undermine the interests of everyday Americans.

John Birch Society (JBS) – Founded in 1958, the JBS gained notoriety after the group dedicated much of their resources to pushing out anti-communist messaging. Since then, the group has mobilized around several issues, including supposed FEMA concentration camps, the New World Order, Agenda 21/2030, the Deep State and COVID-19, among many others.

The JBS has been instrumental in keeping alive antigovernment conspiracy theories rooted in the racist Christian Identity movement, with philanthropist George Soros being a frequent target of their campaigns. In line with their belief system, the group today has widened their anti-communist platform to also include anti-socialist, anti-Marxist and anti-anarchist messages.

At its peak, the JBS had between 60,000 and 100,000 members with national chapters across varies states in the U.S. Today, the JBS has been relegated to the fringes of mainstream politics, although its messages continue to be picked up and dished out by factions of the far right. JBS was particularly active in 2021 as schools became a primary focus of antigovernment activity.

map of conspiracy propagandists

2022 conspiracy propagandist groups

View all groups by state and by ideology.
*Asterisk denotes headquarters

American Freedom Network
Johnstown, Colorado

Connecting the Dots
Chicago, Illinois

Genesis Communication Network
Dakota County, Minnesota

Austin, Texas

Jeremiah Films
Los Angeles, California

John Birch Society
Mobile, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Mesa, Arizona
Norwich, Connecticut
Barnesville, Georgia
Rexburg, Idaho
Lincoln County, Montana
New Jersey
Albany, New York
Saratoga Springs, New York
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Fort Worth, Texas
Appleton, Wisconsin*

Liberty Hangout
Auburndale, Florida

Liberty RoundTable
American Fork, Utah

Medical Kidnap
Huntsville, Alabama

Natural News
Cody, Wyoming

Now the End Begins
Jacksonville, Florida

Post and Email
Canterbury, Connecticut

Prophecy Club Resources
Topeka, Kansas

Red Voice Media
Scottsdale, Arizona

Redoubt News
Priest River, Idaho

Republic Broadcasting
Round Rock, Texas

Righteous Army
Miami, Massachusetts

Rule of Law Radio
Austin, Texas

Silver Bear Cafe
Garland, Texas

Silver Shield Xchange
Cleveland, Ohio

Stand Up America U.S.
Bigfork, Montana

Georgetown, Texas

Texas Eagle Forum
Dallas, Texas

The American Project
Sarasota, Florida

The Healthy American
San Clemente, California
Hope, Rhode Island

Uncle Sam's Misguided Children
Sarasota, Florida

What Really Happened
Santa Claus, Indiana

Women Fighting for America
Jacksonville, Florida

Washington, District of Columbia