Conspiracy Watch: Operation Couch Potato

Does the government know you’re addicted to <span style="font-style:normal !important;">Gossip Girl</span>?

Illustration: Peter Hoey

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The latest installment in our ongoing collection of wonderfully weird (and totally whack) conspiracy theories. Find more Conspiracy Watch entries here.

THE CONSPIRACY: Is the government dropping $2 billion on digital television converter boxes just so we can watch American Idol in high definition? No way. The real reason for the June 12 transition from analog TV is so that the feds can secretly monitor every household in the country—and eventually the world. Hidden cameras inside converter boxes and hi-def LCD screens will allow the government and corporate America to peer into our living rooms in search of thought crimes and valuable information about our consumer preferences. And you thought the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program was bad.

THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: Radio host and 9/11 Truther Alex Jones says digital home surveillance plans have been in the works for years. In February, someone posted a YouTube clip of a Magnavox digitial converter being taken apart, revealing a tiny camera and a microphone inside. This prompted Jones’ InfoWars.com to predict “the ultimate Big Brother scenario whereby the majority of Americans and Europeans will have Orwellian telescreens watching their every move.” A video on the site warns, “All the world’s TV’s [sic] will be able to be operated by 1 computer in 1 room.”

MEANWHILE, BACK ON EARTH: The YouTuber later admitted that the video was a hoax. That hasn’t stopped doubters from posting videos in which they describe the dangers of hi-tech surveillance—to the tiny cameras on top of their computer screens.

Kookiness Rating: Tin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat SmallTin Foil Hat Small (1=maybe they’re on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate