This apex is likely due to Oliver Stone’s conspiracy thriller, "JFK," the popular television series "X-Files," and the coming of age of cynical Baby Boomers and Gen Xers whose trust in government during the 1990s was particularly low. For example, in the late 1990s, close to 80 percent of Americans according to one poll believed in alien/government cover-up conspiracy theories. That number is (thankfully) much lower now.
Regardless of their waxing and waning, these staggering numbers reveal the American public’s high levels of distrust, and in some cases, delusional thinking. This, in turn, also explains why Trump himself has shown so much interest in the files.
Indeed, Trump has dabbled in conspiracy thinking himself. Back in 2016, Trump pointed to an old rumor involving Ted Cruz’s father Raul and Oswald. And longtime Trump ally and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone called Trump's release of the JFK documents heroic.
It actually makes a lot of sense that Trump, who ran a campaign based in part on attacking the mainstream establishment, would embrace conspiracy theories — and voters who believe in them. By aligning himself as a maverick working outside the corrupt status quo, Trump is actively marketing himself to exactly the kind of person who would believe the government lied about who killed Kennedy.
The ways one can becomes a conspiracy theorist are many, but upbringing has a lot to do with it. Just as early childhood socialization can determine political orientations later in life, our parents, education, media diet and even religious influences whether we think institutions are corrupt — and to what extent. I call this conspiracy thinking; people who exhibit high levels of conspiracy thinking are more likely to view events and circumstances as the product of conspiracies. These people are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories when they are exposed to them.
JFK conspiracy theories are so ingrained in our cultural and societal references that most Americans are exposed to them at some point or another. They also are attractive, however, because there is little partisan element that would divide potential believers. For example, at their respective peaks, the Birther (Barack Obama faked this birth certificate) and Truther (the Bush Administration was behind the 9/11 attacks) theories maxed out at about 25 percent.