The Listening Post

The Conspiracy Virus: COVID-19 misinformation in the US

How a conspiracy documentary hijacked US social media and fuelled fake news around coronavirus. Plus, schooling in Peru.

On The Listening Post this week: How a conspiracy documentary hijacked US social media and fuelled misinformation on COVID-19. Plus: Peru and the art of digital homeschooling.

COVID-19 misinformation in the US

So much about this pandemic remains unknown, which is why reporting on it is so challenging. A lack of scientific consensus, heavy-handed government policies, and lockdown-induced economic woes have resulted in a wave of fear, anxiety, and powerlessness – perfect conditions for misinformation and conspiracy theories to thrive.

The US is ground zero for a lot of these theories, not least because the president and outlets like Fox News have long trafficked in them. There is a market for conspiracy theories; one that can turn a discredited scientist and an obscure filmmaker into an internet phenomenon.

The Listening Post takes a look at ‘Plandemic’ – the viral sensation of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.


Joe Uscinski – co-author, American Conspiracy Theories

Joan Donovan – research director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University

Will Sommer – tech reporter, The Daily Beast

Jared Yates Sexton – author & analyst

On our radar:

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Nic Muirhead about a recent buyout in Italy meaning that Fiat automobiles now controls one of Italy’s biggest newspapers – La Repubblica – and with it, a shift in editorial tone.

Peru’s school system takes to the airwaves

In many countries, it is still far too early to send children back to school. Take Peru, for instance; with more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, it has the second most of any Latin American country, behind Brazil.

One area where Peru seems to have fared better is education. Within three weeks of declaring a national lockdown, and with the collaboration of both public and private broadcasters, the Peruvian government brought to air Aprendo en Casa, or I Learn at Home – six hours of educational programming, every weekday.

The goal is to make the entirety of both the primary and secondary school curricula available to all students, including the millions without TV and internet access.

The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi takes a look at Aprendo en Casa – the TV and radio platform that is schooling Peruvian kids during lockdown.


Ernesto Cortes – general manager, RPP Group

Diana Marchena – planning coordinator, Education Ministry of Peru

Víctor Zapata – Lima-based secondary school teacher

Fátima Saldonid – presenter, Aprendo en Casa & Broadcaster, TV Perú

Marlith Norabuena – rural school teacher