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Politics Donald Trump slipped a fact-free conspiracy theory on Joe Biden into his stump speech

12:30  05 october  2020
12:30  05 october  2020 Source:   cnn.com

Opinion: Post-debate commentary from CNN contributors

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Fact check: Trump ' s election-related conspiracy theories . What proof does Trump have for such a serious claim? That Biden , to his mind, did better in the one-on-one debate with The relentless repetition ensures that the idea will seep into the public consciousness and potentially impact the way

JUST WATCHED. Fact check: Trump ' s election-related conspiracy theories .

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump leveled a massive -- and totally unproven -- allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on September 22, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) © MANDEL NGAN/AFP/AFP via Getty Images US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on September 22, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Here's the conspiracy theory, in its entirety:

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Democratic nominee Joe Biden and republican nominee Donald Trump face off in the first of three presidential debates, in a chaotic night moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace.

Fox News chief political anchor gives credence to Trump conspiracy theory Biden will have a secret listening device: “As far as the listening devices and the Biden campaign’ s response to that, I think that’ s interesting. During the debate Biden reached into his jacket and realigned something there.

"This guy doesn't have a clue. He doesn't know where the hell he is and they'll give him a shot of something. I don't know. He's going to get something. He'll be -- you know because I watch him so badly. He performed so badly in the debates and then with Bernie, he was average, not great, but he got through. And I said what the hell is he taking? And we'd like to ask him and I said that. We want a drug test. We want a drug test. We'll both take it. We'll both take it."

[Shakes head slowly]

So, just to be crystal clear here: The President of the United States is alleging that the former vice president of the United States -- and the Democratic presidential nominee -- took some sort of performance-enhancing drugs in order to improve his debate performance in the spring against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and will do so again before the first general election debate this coming Tuesday. And Trump is even specific about how it happens; "They'll give him a shot of something," he says of Biden.

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What proof does Trump have for such a serious claim? That Biden, to his mind, did better in the one-on-one debate with Sanders on March 15 than he had done in the other Democratic presidential debates earlier in the race.

Which, of course, isn't proof at all. In fact, even if you believe -- as Trump does -- that Biden was better in the Sanders debate than in the previous ones (and I think he was), there are lots of non-drugs reasons for it. Here are two: 1) a one-on-one debate is very different than a debate with 8 or 10 candidates on stage 2) Biden was coming off a series of victories in early March and was more confident in his chances of winning and, therefore, more comfortable onstage.

What's remarkable is that Trump has so normalized fact-free conspiracy theories -- 3 to 5 million people illegally voted in the 2016 election, Barack Obama ordered a spying operation on his 2016 campaign, Obama wasn't born in the United States -- during his time in public life (and the White House) that when he adds something like this claim about Biden into his 2020 stump speech, people don't bat an eye.

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But people: The President is saying that his general election opponent is getting a "shot of something" to improve his performance in debates! Like, WHAT??!?!?!?

(Sidebar: What would that even be? A shot of caffeine delivered intravenously? Or some sort of upper? I don't know and, of course, neither does Trump.)

Calling out the irresponsibility of Trump's claim -- and the fact-free nature of it -- won't change the minds of the President's voters who are ready to believe the absolute worst about Biden, Democrats and the media, and regard countervailing facts as yet more evidence that there's a conspiracy to keep this information from them. Nor will it lead Republican elected officials to speak out publicly that, maybe, it's a dangerous thing for Trump to suggest that Biden is using drugs to improve his performance in the final six weeks of the campaign.

But simply because it won't change those minds or impel GOP politicians to say Trump needs to stop this sort of stuff doesn't mean -- as some suggest -- we should ignore it entirely. This false and irresponsible claim is now a part of the speech Trump gives at essentially every rally for his 2020 campaign. The relentless repetition ensures that the idea will seep into the public consciousness and potentially impact the way people outside of the hardcore Trump base view not only Biden's debate performance but his candidacy more broadly.

Which is Trump's longstanding MO. Make an outrageous claim with no facts to back it up. Repeat. And hope people don't conduct the due diligence to realize you are just saying wild stuff.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!