The United States is in the grips of a singular moment in history. An emboldened community of conspiracy theorists is spreading rampant disinformation about the presidential election and the efficacy and intention of COVID-19 vaccines. Record numbers of Americans are testing positive for the virus and President Trump, who downplayed its threat, is taking credit for the arrival of vaccines while disputing President-elect Biden’s win.

The spread of online conspiracy theories has already had tangible impacts. After vicious anti-5G conspiracy theories, the rollout of 5G towers in the United Kingdom was interrupted by dozens of fire bombings and attacks. How can the United States and Australia traverse this clash of online disinformation and conspiracy theories with the real-world rollout of a vaccine program and a presidential transition? How has this landscape enabled hostile actors to influence US politics, and what are the implications for Australia and the world?

The United States Studies Centre hosted a discussion on these issues and more with the award-winning investigative journalist for NBC News Brandy Zadrozny and USSC Non-resident Fellow and Lecturer at the National Security College at ANU, Dr Jennifer Hunt in conversation with USSC Research Associate Elliott Brennan.