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Whistleblowers can be viewed as heroic actors who reveal institutional misdeeds. In contrast, conspiracy theorists are seen as members of a marginalized element perpetuating misinformation. Despite this apparent difference, the present analysis focuses on how similarities between the two constructs can allow a target to discredit a whistleblower accusation by countering that the whistleblower is operating as part of a conspiracy. More generally, this paper considers how the difficulty inherent in disproving conspiracy theory claims facilitates their utility as a defense. The case study of President Donald Trump’s responses to whistleblower accusations are considered to illustrate the arguments.




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