6 Viral Conspiracy Theories About the Trump-Biden Debate That Are Totally Fake

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The First Debate: A Primer on the Conspiracy Theories Clouding the Airwaves

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are set to face off in the first of two presidential debates for the 2024 election season, an event that has ignited a flurry of online conspiracy theories. Supporters of Trump seem to be gripped by a palpable fear that Biden will perform well, leading to a frantic preemptive insistence that any strong showing from the current president must be, somehow, rigged.

The debate, which is the earliest ever for two presidential candidates, will be hosted by CNN in Atlanta. While roughly 60% of Americans say they plan to tune in, anyone even remotely engaging with politics on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and TikTok has likely already encountered a dizzying array of wild theories about what to expect.

Let’s delve into some of the most prominent conspiracy theories bubbling to the surface.

1) The "CNN Conspiracy": Editing Out Biden’s Blunders

Patrick Webb, who works for a right-wing "news" website called The Leading Report, claimed on X (formerly Twitter) that CNN would be broadcasting the debate with an unusually long delay, implying that they would have ample time to edit out Biden’s supposed errors.

"BREAKING: CNN will implement a 1-2 minute delay for tonight’s presidential debate instead of the standard 7-second delay, potentially allowing time to edit parts of the broadcast," Webb tweeted.

CNN swiftly rejected this claim, stating, "This is false. The debate will begin live at 9pm ET."

Webb’s subsequent attempt to justify his claim by sharing a screenshot of a conversation he had with ChatGPT about the definition of "live TV" only served to further highlight the absurdity of his theory.

The Leading Report itself is notorious for publishing false information, with its top story at the time Webb made his claim being a baseless assertion that covid-19 vaccines cause cancer. This lends further credence to the idea that Webb’s theory was simply designed to sow seeds of doubt and distrust.

2) Biden’s "Secret Weapon": Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

One of the most pervasive conspiracy theories circulating online is the notion that Biden will be using performance-enhancing drugs to mask the supposed effects of dementia, a condition that Trump has frequently accused the president of having. The irony, of course, lies in the fact that Trump readily demonstrates moments of rambling incoherence during his public appearances and rallies.

Laura Loomer, a figure banned from over a dozen tech platforms for her bigotry, fueled this theory on X (formerly Twitter). "JUST IN: @JoeBiden just refused to take a drug test ahead of the Presidential debate tonight," she claimed. "President Trump agreed to take a drug test, but Biden is now refusing. This is essentially confirmation that Joe Biden is going to have drugs injected into him ahead of the debate."

This claim, however, is entirely fabricated. Medical experts have made it clear that no current drug exists that can increase a person’s cognitive function or mask the symptoms of dementia. It’s worth noting, too, that Trump’s own personal White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, was demoted by the Navy for drinking on the job and was nicknamed "The Candyman" for allegedly handing out powerful pills outside of normal prescription procedures. This suggests that the theory of Biden using drugs may be a case of Trump projecting his own anxieties and past behavior onto the current president.

3) The Elusive Earpiece: A Conspiracy That Refuses to Die

The allegation that Biden will be wearing an earpiece during the debate is not a new one. In fact, Trump himself ran an ad back in 2020 accusing the president of this very act. Roger Stone, a high-profile Trump advisor, resurrected this theory on X (formerly Twitter).

"No ear pieces! Trump should demand that Biden be carefully inspected to ensure that he is not wearing some deeply embedded high-tech earpiece before the beginning of the CNN debate," Stone wrote.

This theory, however, lacks any basis in reality. It’s hard to fathom how someone could listen to someone speaking in their ear while simultaneously trying to engage in a back-and-forth debate, especially with a vocal opponent like Trump.

4) The Body Double: A Wild Theory Takes Stage

Fox News contributor Greg Gutfeld, known for his often outlandish and inflammatory rhetoric, furthered the body double theory, suggesting that Biden’s extended stay at Camp David was a cover-up for some sort of elaborate cosmetic procedure to create a convincing body double.

"What’s really going on? Does it take that long for the new face to heal, does it take that long to 3D print a body double?" Gutfeld said.

This theory, though likely presented as a joke by Gutfeld, is a popular theme among the far-right and QAnon communities. It’s a particularly egregious and unfounded assertion, based on the belief that Biden is either being represented by a body double or that someone else is appearing in public wearing a Biden mask.

The "mask theory" is easily debunked, as anyone who has aged understands that skin inevitably changes; it droops and sags, a natural process that doesn’t necessitate a conspiracy.

5) The "Medical Emergency" Narrative: CNN Under Scrutiny

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) expressed concern to CNN about limited press access to the debate, citing the potential for journalists to miss crucial moments due to CNN’s exclusive coverage.

"The concern among the other networks is that something could happen in the debate room that only CNN journalists would witness," explained Bloomberg. "Unlike past contests, this debate doesn’t have a live audience and microphones of the other candidate will be muted when one is speaking. That could mean rival journalists miss gestures and asides during CNN’s coverage, or something more serious like a medical emergency involving one of the candidates."

This statement has been twisted online, with the emphasis on "medical emergencies" being used to generate the claim that CNN is intentionally keeping journalists away to hide a pre-determined medical event, likely involving Biden.

However, there is no evidence to support this theory. CNN maintains that they are simply following their usual practice for single-network-hosted debates and that the limited press access is a result of their control over the event.

6) The "Hot Swap" Theory: A Last-Minute Replacement?

This conspiracy theory suggests that Biden may be replaced before the November election. According to Jason Calacanis, co-host of the All-In Podcast, "There is a significant chance Biden will be slaughtered by Trump tonight, or he might have a senior moment while the world watches. If either of those two things happens, or both, there is a significant chance he will bow out. The hot swap is coming. Don’t be surprised when the democratic party magically finds two new candidates. After the polls this week, the hot swap is the best way to turn this around – and they know it."

While anything is possible in the unpredictable world of politics, there is absolutely no evidence to support this theory.

Logically, it simply makes no sense. Biden has had ample opportunities to decline to run again and has only jeopardized a potential Democratic win for any successor by waiting this long.

Furthermore, the notion that Biden would willingly step down due to a poor debate performance, especially considering the high stakes of the upcoming election, is a highly unlikely scenario.

Conclusion: Navigating a Sea of Misinformation

The conspiracy theories surrounding the upcoming presidential debate are a testament to the pervasive presence of misinformation in today’s digital landscape. Fear, distrust, and a longing for simplistic explanations in a complex world fuel the propagation of these unfounded claims. It’s crucial to remain vigilant, critically evaluate the information we encounter, and rely on credible sources for accurate information. Especially in the realm of politics, where stakes are high and anxieties are heightened, it’s more important than ever to exercise caution and avoid falling prey to the manipulative tactics of those seeking to spread disinformation. The upcoming debates will undoubtedly generate more speculation and fringe theories. By approaching the information landscape with a discerning eye, we can navigate the treacherous waters of misinformation and contribute to a more informed and engaged public discourse.

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Alex Parker
Alex Parker
Alex Parker is a tech-savvy writer who delves into the world of gadgets, science, and digital culture. Known for his engaging style and detailed reviews, Alex provides readers with a deep understanding of the latest trends and innovations in the digital world.