Why a New True Crime Podcast Contains No Crime At All

“Tiffany Dover is Dead*” is a gripping forensic investigation into how conspiracy theories spread

Jamie Cohen

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One day in April of 2020 it hit me: “Where did John go?”

About a month into the pandemic, I’d realized that one of my friends on Instagram just suddenly stopped posting. He was a consistent social media poster, uploading one or two grid posts a week and posting to his Instagram stories almost every hour. John, an American, worked as a tour guide in Italy and lived a spectacularly wonderful life and I vicariously enjoyed the Mediterranean views through his account. Then all of a sudden, it ended.

I grew concerned and wondered if he was ok. Did something happen? I messaged him — no reply.

At that moment, I could have fallen down a rabbit hole, assumed the worse, latched onto answers that fit my paranoia: did he get Covid? Deported? Arrested? All these assumptions existed only in my head.

My point is that when faced with the unknown, we often fill the blanks with confirmation bias, making up a story for something even when it is illogical and unconfirmed.

In the the new true crime podcast, Tiffany Dover is Dead*, NBC News disinformation reporter Brandy Zadrozny goes into a deep dive exploration of how conspiracy theories are born, how assumed stories spread, and explains the methods she uses to debunk the sprawling conspiracy theory about Tiffany Dover.

Tiffany Dover is a very much alive nurse who works in a hospital in Tennessee. Dover became the subject of a large online conspiracy theory after she had received her Covid vaccine live on local television, but fainted at the microphone due to a Vasovegal episode. (Several people very close to me have Vegal issues, and they get dizzy standing up or feel faint with acute pain. It’s fairly common.)

When Dover fainted, a caring camera-person turned the camera away live on air. When Dover returned for an interview twenty minutes later to explain what had happened and that it had nothing to do with the vaccine, it was too late. Anti-vaxxers and online conspiracists had already shared the clip hundreds of times and it was going viral. The conspiracy…

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Jamie Cohen

Digital culture expert and meme scholar. Cultural and Media Studies PhD. Internet studies educator: social good, civic engagement and digital literacies