Episode 47: False Information, Conspiracy Theories, and Right-Wing Extremism

Daniel Koehler

Research Fellow, American University

Daniel Koehler studied comparative religion, political science and economics at Princeton University and Free University Berlin and holds a PhD in political science. His work focuses on terrorism, radicalization, and deradicalization. Daniel is the co-founder of the first peer reviewed open access journal on deradicalization, which he created together with the German Institute on Radicalization and De-Radicalization Studies (GIRDS) in 2014. In 2016, he was appointed to be the first court expert on deradicalization in the United States of America at the District Court in Minneapolis. In July 2017 Daniel became a member of the Editorial Board of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague and in November 2019 he was appointed as Research Fellow at the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at the American University in Washington D.C.

Eric Langenbacher

Senior Fellow; Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program

Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Society, Culture & Politics Program at AICGS.

Dr. Langenbacher studied in Canada before completing his PhD in Georgetown University’s Government Department in 2002. His research interests include collective memory, political culture, and electoral politics in Germany and Europe. Recent publications include the edited volumes Twilight of the Merkel Era: Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election (2019), The Merkel Republic: The 2013 Bundestag Election and its Consequences (2015), Dynamics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Ruth Wittlinger and Bill Niven, 2013), Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations (co-edited with Yossi Shain, 2010), and From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (co-edited with Jeffrey J. Anderson, 2010). With David Conradt, he is also the author of The German Polity, 10th and 11th edition (2013, 2017).

Dr. Langenbacher remains affiliated with Georgetown University as Teaching Professor and Director of the Honors Program in the Department of Government. He has also taught at George Washington University, Washington College, The University of Navarre, and the Universidad Nacional de General San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has given talks across the world. He was selected Faculty Member of the Year by the School of Foreign Service in 2009 and was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1999-2000 and the Hopper Memorial Fellowship at Georgetown in 2000-2001. Since 2005, he has also been Managing Editor of German Politics and Society, which is housed in Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies. Dr. Langenbacher has also planned and run dozens of short programs for groups from abroad, as well as for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense on a variety of topics pertaining to American and comparative politics, business, culture, and public policy.



Leticia Bode

Associate Professor, Georgetown University

Leticia Bode (PhD University of Wisconsin) is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Communication, Culture, and Technology master’s program at Georgetown University. She researches the intersection of communication, technology, attitudes, and behavior, emphasizing the role communication and information technologies may play in the acquisition, use, effects, and implications of both information and misinformation.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic began in many countries, conspiracy theories and political extremism have grown but particularly in the United States and Germany. False information has flourished, leading the UN to even deem this an “infodemic.” On this episode of The Zeitgeist, AGI Society, Culture & Politics Program Director Eric Langenbacher discusses the recent surge of misinformation and conspiracy theories with Leticia Bode, Associate Professor at Georgetown University, and Daniel Koehler, Research Fellow at American University. What means are available to combat false information? Are there connections among right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy theories? What can the United States and Germany do together to address cross-border conspiracy theories movements like Qanon?


Eric Langenbacher, Senior Fellow and Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program, AGI


Leticia Bode, Associate Professor, Georgetown University
Daniel Koehler, Research Fellow, American University

This podcast episode is part of the AGI project “The Importance of the Transatlantic Partnership in Times of Global Crises” and is generously funded by the the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.