The journalist Jon Snow talked to fellow hack David Aaronovitch about his new book ‘The role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History’ …or rather he didn’t because Jon was a Snow-show (the first time I’ve seen this happen in the best part of ten years visiting the festival).
Snow’s non-appearance, or more accurately very late arrival five minutes from the end, was partly what made the session so captivating. Aaronovitch is both a great interviewer and a fine interviewee, and he combined the roles effortlessly and with great humour. The show’s producer also demonstrated his comic flair cutting to Snow’s empty chair a couple of times when Aaronovitch set up a question for himself.
Amongst all of this was the book. Aaronovitch clearly outlined the role of the conspiracy theory in endorsing political agendas and how the impact of such a theory can become amplified by political regimes. He talked in some depth about ‘the Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, how seriously it was taken by the mainstream media in the early 20th century and how it continues to be used as a weapon of propaganda. The death of Diana, allegations of fake moon landings and the twin towers were all covered, although as Snow pointed out when he made a brief and witty entrance, no interrogation of the WMD debate that sent us to war in Iraq. Perhaps Aaronovitch is already planning the sequel.