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Right, I'm clear on your point, but where you think no one knew how many people could be duped, I think it's pretty clear someone knew and planned for it. The paranoid gullibility of the American populace isn't an unstudied field, and these media personalities/platforms banked their success on it - make explicit reference to it in the case of Andrew Anglin/Daily Stormer. Like...you mention "Illuminati" right here, but that actually has roots in anti-Masonic paranoia from waaay back (that tie is made in the Hofstadter paper too).

I think we're making the same point. I'm just adding that the buildup to this level of conspiratorial frenzy is a decades-long process that's a pretty well-known and anticipated feature of the American electorate. Also, that the historical efforts and reach of political paranoia were more effective than you give them credit for (i.e. yes, they reached "mass audiences" in the 1800s). The Internet's advent didn't make this phenomena some new strange beast of our age - it's been around, relatively unchanged, for quite a while.