BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Senator Ron Johnson incited widespread outrage when he said recently that he would have been more afraid of the rioters who rampaged the Capitol on Jan. 6 had they been members of Black Lives Matter and antifa.
But his revealing and incendiary comment, which quickly prompted accusations of racism, came as no surprise to those who have followed Mr. Johnson’s career in Washington or back home in Wisconsin. He has become the Republican Party’s foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation now that Donald Trump himself is banned from social media and largely avoiding appearances on cable television.
Mr. Johnson is an all-access purveyor of misinformation on serious issues such as the pandemic and the legitimacy of American democracy, as well as invoking the etymology of Greenland as a way to downplay the effects of climate change.
In recent months, Mr. Johnson has sown doubts about President Biden’s victory, argued that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was not an armed insurrection, promoted discredited Covid-19 treatments, said he saw no need to get the coronavirus vaccine himself and claimed that the United States could have ended the pandemic a year ago with the development of a generic drug if the government had wanted that to happen.