By Kevin Roose
Ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate, rumors began spreading among right-wing influencers and Trump campaign surrogates that Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, was being outfitted with a hidden earpiece in order to receive surreptitious help during the debate, and that Mr. Biden’s campaign had refused a request from the Trump campaign to allow a third party to inspect both candidates’ ears for hidden earpiece receivers before the debate.
“If Joe Biden isn’t hiding anything,” wrote the conservative activist Charlie Kirk on Twitter, “why won’t he consent to a third party checking for an earpiece before tonight’s debate?”
The debate, of course, has not yet begun, and there is no evidence that Mr. Biden will be assisted by an earpiece once it does. (A member of Mr. Biden’s campaign staff called the rumor “completely absurd” during a call with reporters on Tuesday.) But the theory is being speculated about in right-wing media, including on Fox News, and it has been shared thousands of times on Facebook. It was also advanced by “Q,” the pseudonymous poster behind the QAnon conspiracy theory.
The Biden earpiece conspiracy theory (which originated in a tweet from a single anonymous source to a NYPost reporter, and was instantly denied by the campaign) is everywhere on Facebook. Absolutely everywhere. pic.twitter.com/AIdXoy4ZIi
“Secret earpiece” rumors are nothing new. In fact, they’ve become something of a fixture during presidential debate cycles, and part of a baseless conspiracy theory that tends to rear its head every four years.
The first real earpiece conspiracy theory dates to 2000, when Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio host, accused then-candidate Al Gore of getting answers fed to him through an earpiece during a “Meet the Press” appearance. (A representative from the show confirmed to Slate that all guests wear earpieces in order to hear the audio tracks of news clips played during the show, but there is no evidence Mr. Gore was fed any answers.)
Four years later, during the 2004 presidential debates, rumors circulated among left-wing bloggers that George W. Bush was getting help from a surreptitiously placed earpiece.
Source: Read Full Article