In the midst of the highest profile child sex trafficking trial in recent history, the intellectual thought leaders at the Atlantic have seemingly found the real problem: internet wine moms who have gone down one too many 4Chan rabbit holes.
The magazine, ever playing to its crowd of agreeable elites, recently published a longform piece by Kaitlyn Tiffany titled “The Great (Fake) Child-Sex-Trafficking Epidemic.” It takes in all the usual sights: Twitter and Instagram hashtags, 4Chan trolling conspiracies, Reddit groups. In other words, it centers on people with little power to do anything except post online and...

In the midst of the highest profile child sex trafficking trial in recent history, the intellectual thought leaders at the Atlantic have seemingly found the real problem: internet wine moms who have gone down one too many 4Chan rabbit holes.

The magazine, ever playing to its crowd of agreeable elites, recently published a longform piece by Kaitlyn Tiffany titled “The Great (Fake) Child-Sex-Trafficking Epidemic.” It takes in all the usual sights: Twitter and Instagram hashtags, 4Chan trolling conspiracies, Reddit groups. In other words, it centers on people with little power to do anything except post online and talk in groups. Rather than examining more powerful actors like, say, the CIA or Ghislaine Maxwell.

Outlets like the Atlantic have carved out an entire cottage industry, dedicating millions in resources to covering the kook fringe right. That’s all well and good, but these same outlets and infotainment click-sites claim to be speaking truth to power. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the Atlantic would run this thoroughly researched (read: spent time looking at 4Chan) piece suggesting that child trafficking is an elaborate hoax.

That’s especially true when you consider that the piece ran in the middle of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial, and comes on the heels of an explosive report — in BuzzFeed of all places — that the CIA had evidence of employees and contractors committing sexual crimes against children, and took no action. It was also published in the same week that it emerged that a top Sony executive had been caught in a pedophile sting.

Herein lies the problem: how outlets like the Atlantic stir the pot and juice up the outrage themselves. It’s not like the QAnon conspiracies (or elaborate trolling) are worth taking seriously. But when you spend 1,500 words suggesting that child trafficking is a hoax on its face, and is only being pushed by that kook fringe, while the Ghislaine Maxwell trial proceeds with barely any mainstream media attention, curious minds will start to ask questions, even ludicrous ones.

That’s the box our elites have put themselves in. When national periodicals ignore someone like Maxwell and her alleged deeds in favor of internet weirdos on Facebook, it casts doubt on their intentions.

None of the individuals pushing QAnon conspiracies that featured in the Atlantic piece have had more influence than Maxwell, a woman who had access to Jeffrey Epstein’s black book, which includes the names of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and others. She attended Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. She moves in powerful celebrity and media circles — and allegedly with agents of both domestic and foreign governments.

The entire breadth of her connections is not really known. Perhaps that’s due in part to the fact that the people who could be investigating such details, for one reason or another, are spending their days glued to 4Chan and Reddit, begging to be trolled into swallowing tall tales of celebrity spirit cooking and adrenochrome. Perhaps a national intelligence agency like the CIA was able to cover up a massive failure of staffers engaging in sexual encounters with minors because our media’s attention was elsewhere, focused on dossiers about pee tapes that produced nothing but confirmation bias.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new. What’s new is that our media seems more obsessed with covering obvious online troll jobs. Maybe there just aren’t enough clicks in those stories. Maybe the people pulling the purse strings don’t want those stories told. But until our press changes course, people will read and speculate and believe what they want. If they want a media diet of Facebook posts about lizard people, then so be it.