It didn't take long for the Notre Dame fire conspiracy nuts to crawl out from under their rocks

The conspiracy culture is a fact of life in the 21st century.  Fed by anonymous social media posters, conspiracy theories race like wildfires across the internet.  And by the way, did you know that those California wildfires were deliberately set to make Trump look bad?

It's inevitable that as sure as there is tragedy, there follows conspiracy.  This is actually a normal human reaction to horrific events.  Our minds are programmed to see patterns in everything, even when random events occur.  Some people see the organized patterns of conspiracy and dark forces when confronted with the unknowable.

It may turn out that the fire that destroyed most of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was deliberately set.  Maybe it was terrorism.  Maybe it was a protest against President Macron.  Perhaps it was your garden variety right-wing or left-wing nuts.

But jumping to conclusions at this point is silly and stupid.  My colleague Monica Showalter wrote the proper takedown of these fools.  And kudos to Fox News hosts Shep Smith and Neil Cavuto for actually cutting off conspiracy theorists who appeared on their shows.

Daily Beast:

"It's like a 9/11, a French 9/11," Karsenty declared.  "It's a big shock.  This church was there for more than 850 years.  You need to know that for the past years, we've had churches desecrated each and every week all over France.  Of course, you will hear the story of the politically — the political correctness, which will tell you it's probably an accident."

Smith interrupted, informing Karsenty, who was once convicted of defamation for accusing a French media outlet of staging a Palestinian boy's death, that he would not allow such speculation on air.  Smith noted that if his guest had any concrete information, however, "we would love to hear it."

Karsenty, meanwhile, continued to try to raise the possibility — without evidence — that the fire was intentional, prompting Smith to cut off the interview for good.

"No, sir, we're not doing that here, not now, not on my watch," Smith exclaimed.  "The man on the phone with us has absolutely no information of any kind about the origin of this fire and neither do I."

Don't you wish hosts on other networks had cut off the wild speculation from liberals about the fantastical idea of Russian collusion?

Smith's reaction was exactly right.  Cavuto echoed his sentiments:

Several hours later, Cavuto had a similar experience with Catholic League president Bill Donohue, who immediately raised the notion that this inferno was tied to other church burnings.

"Well, Neil, if it is an accident, it's a monumental tragedy," Donohoe said.  "But forgive me for being suspicious."

He added: "Just last month, a 17th-century church was set on fire in Paris.  We have seen Tabernacles knocked down, crosses have been torn down, statues have been smashed."

Cavuto went on to request that Donohue avoid bringing up his suspicions as no connections have been made by officials.  The Catholic League leader, however, was unable to help himself, eventually asserting: "I'm sorry, when I find out that the Eucharist is being destroyed and excrement is being smeared on crosses, this is what's going on now."

The Fox News anchor interjected, letting Donohue that while he appreciates his time, "we cannot make conjectures about this."  Cavuto then dropped the call.

Too often, the media allow this kind of speculation to run rampant, feeding the paranoia of right- and left-wing extremists who will believe anything bad about their perceived enemies.  For any news outlet, speculation without evidence is irresponsible.  If you want to feed your conspiracy habit, there are plenty of nutcases posting nonsense on the internet where you can get your fix.

Professional news organizations are supposed to be in the business of reporting facts.  Intelligent speculation is one thing.  But wild fantasies with zero evidence to back them up belongs on social media, not on news broadcasts.

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