Ship crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Right-wing media spread conspiracy theories about Baltimore bridge collapse

Right-wing pundits are baselessly linking the collapse of the bridge to DEI, immigration, and terrorism

After Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge was struck by a cargo ship and collapsed, right-wing media figures baselessly claimed that the incident was a terrorist or cyber attack. Some right-wing media figures used the tragedy to continue their ongoing crusade against diversity initiatives, blaming the collision and collapse on DEI initiatives or “a wide open border” without any evidence. 

  • A Baltimore bridge collapsed after being struck by a cargo ship, and right-wing media resorted to their usual blame games

    • Early in the morning on March 26, a large cargo ship collided with a support structure for the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, leading to the bridge's collapse. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore stated that the incident was likely an accident and that there was no evidence to suggest that the collision was a terrorist attack. [Baltimore Sun, 3/26/24]
    • In video of the collision, the cargo ship appears to lose power twice, belching thick smoke as it drifts into the support pillar. Authorities relayed that they had received a “mayday” distress signal from the ship, with the crew reporting that they were experiencing a “power issue.” Among those reportedly still missing after the accident are construction crew workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico who were repairing potholes on the bridge at the time of collapse. [Baltimore Banner, 3/26/24]
    • Right-wing media figures have been using transportation disasters to attack diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. For instance, after a Boeing passenger jet lost a door mid-flight in January, right-wing media rushed to blame the failure on the company's DEI policies. [Media Matters, 1/12/24, 1/25/24]
  • Right-wing figures baselessly suggested the collapse was due to a terrorist or cyber attack

    • On X (formerly Twitter), InfoWars host and prolific conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that the collision “looks deliberate” and that “WW3 has already started.” His full post read: “Looks deliberate to me. A cyber-attack is probable. WW3 has already started..” [Twitter/X, 3/26/24]
    • Conspiracy theorist Lara Logan suggested the bridge collapse was “a cyber attack” and that “they are going to have a hard time selling this one as an accident to those who know how these things are done.” Logan said: “The timing is perfect for a cyber attack - most of the crew would have been asleep at 1:40am. By the time they started waking people up on board, it would have been too late. There is no confirmation of an attack at this,point but they are going to have a hard time selling this one as an accident to those who know how these things are done.” [Twitter/X, 3/26/24]
    • Misogynistic influencer Andrew Tate declared that “this ship was cyber-attacked” and that a “Black Swan event” is “imminent.” Tate asserted: “This ship was cyber-attacked. Lights go off and it deliberately steers towards the bridge supports. Foreign agents of the USA attack digital infrastructures. Nothing is safe. Black Swan event imminent.” [Twitter/X, 3/26/24]
    • QAnon influencer Jordan Sather claimed that officials said “terrorism may have been at play,” and he questioned, “What anti-American elements caused the ship to lose power and hit the bridge?” Sather also added, “I don't like to revel everything in conspiracy, but are we dealing with the New World Order, here?” [Gab, 3/26/24]
    • Right-wing commentator Heather Mullins suggested that the collapse could be a “terrorist attack on U.S. infrastructure.” Mullins posted that the cargo ship “hit the column dead on almost as if it was the intended target. Can’t help but wonder if this was a terrorist attack on U.S. infrastructure.” [Twitter/X, 3/26/24]
    • Right-wing podcaster Benny Johnson suggested the bridge may have collapsed due to terrorism. On his show, he said, “This is a horrifying event. Is this terrorism? How the hell did this happen? Is this incompetence? Who’s allowing this? How did this happen?” [The Benny Show, 3/26/24]
    • On his War Room podcast, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon insinuated that an act of terrorism could be a possibility, stating, “It’s not right, and I think we need to get the full accounting of this until people say it’s not terrorism.” Bannon clarified that he was “not saying it is terrorism,” but then claimed that the ship had turned “right into the main part of the bridge that would take the bridge down.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 3/26/24]
  • Right-wing figures linked the bridge collapse to diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and a “wide open border”

    • Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo suggested the collapse could be due to a “wide open border.” Bartiromo said that the White House issued a statement “saying that there is no indication of nefarious intent,” but she went on to discuss “the potential for wrongdoing or potential for foul play given the wide-open border.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/26/24]
    • Right-wing commentator Ian Miles Cheong posted a “theory” that “climate racism” and a non-diverse workforce led to the collision. He wrote on X: “Theory: climate racism caused the Baltimore bridge disaster. They should've hired a more diverse workforce.” [Twitter/X, 3/26/24]
    • On Telegram, right-wing conspiracy theorist and MAGA troll Jack Posobiec shared a meme suggesting the collapse was caused by DEI. Posobiec shared a graphic depicting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband as characters in the film Titanic with the label, “DEITANIC.” [Telegram, 3/26/24] 
  • Posobiec DEI bridge
    • Posobiec also linked the bridge collapse to recent incidents of “airplane parts falling off” and “trains crashing,” questioning whether people “still think it’s an accident?” Posobiec was seemingly alluding to a baseless campaign by right-wing figures to blame DEI for airplane malfunctions and similar events. [Twitter/X, 3/26/24; Media Matters, 1/12/24]
    • Right-wing outlet National File shared an article claiming that the cargo ship was an “‘All Indian’ crew,” writing, “Invite the Third World, become the Third World.” [National File, 3/26/24; Gab, 3/26/24]