In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Newtown Conspiracy Hoax Spreads Fast Across Fringe

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Somehow, a rumor surfaced online that Holmes was scheduled to testify before the Senate on the Libor banking scandal before the theater shooting. It wasn't true: no such hearing was ever scheduled to take place, nor is there even an obvious connection between FICO and the Libor scandal, which involved a number of high-profile banks misreporting interest rates on transactions. But imaginative commenters across dozens of sites exploited the phony connection anyway, concocting a theory in which the hearing was set to reveal a massive new fraud scheme before being deliberately derailed. Getting deeper into the weeds, some sites noted that The Dark Knight Rises -- the movie playing during the Aurora shooting -- featured a plot point revolving around financial fraud.

In the case of Newtown, Peter Lanza, the alleged shooter's father, reportedly also worked in finance as vice president of taxes at GE Financial Services. Within hours, the same online forums were asserting as fact -- again, 100 percent without evidence -- that he too was supposed to testify before the Senate regarding Libor. Like FICO, GE has no obvious connection to the investigation, which has roped in various other financial institutions. And once again, there is no "witness list" that includes Lanza because there isn't even a hearing on the issue.

"This rumor is 100% false," a Senate Banking Committee aide, who asked not to be named, told TPM by email. "The Senate Banking Committee does not have any LIBOR hearings currently scheduled, and has never considered either of these men as potential witnesses."

Nonetheless, this fiction is being used to fuel a range of conspiracies, many of which suggest the attacks were somehow coordinated by shadowy elites in government or business to hide financial wrongdoing or confiscate guns. And they're getting real traction from commenters at liberal, conservative, and fringe sites all over the Internet.

A libertarian blogger, Fabian4Liberty, posted a video, which already has over 60,000 views, outlining the Libor claim and that quickly spread across social media. A post referencing the video on BeforeItsNews.com claims nearly 10,000 likes on Facebook and an Examiner post detailing the bogus connection has quickly garnered over 7,500 likes.

"The connections between the Aurora massacre, and the one that took place in Newtown on Friday, may have far more ramifications to the people involved in the Libor scandal than anyone could imagine," Kenneth Schortgen Jr. wrote on Examiner.com.

Just as The Dark Knight Rises was roped into fantastic theories about the Aurora shooting, the conspiracy crowd has glommed onto another pop culture phenomenon in Newtown: The Hunger Games. A writer on the truther clearinghouse Prison Planet noted that Suzanne Collins, the author of the popular young adult novels set in a dystopian future in which violence among children is encouraged as sport, is from Newtown. Somehow, this means the whole thing was a setup: "a 'coincidence' that will leave you thinking about a planned scenario at Newtown, just the kind of operation secret societies are reputedly famous for."

Image via Shutterstock / Sergey Peterman