As part of what’s sure to be a long, brutal, insanely divisive 2020 presidential campaign between Donald Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee, conspiracy theories are already emerging about the top liberal frontrunners. And the first target for the churn of right wing plots, fake hit jobs, and hysterical rumors is Joe Biden.
The former vice president is leading Democratic polling, but only with about a third of the vote. He’s also run a fairly lazy and outmoded campaign, relying on wishful thinking that Republicans will come to their senses and throw Trump under the bus – along with a good deal of old school tactile politics. It’s that reputation (earned or not) of Biden as a handsy, touchy creep that’s powering the first big Biden conspiracy theory: that his college roommate went on the record with a bombshell that Biden has admitted to being sexually attracted to children.
The story started getting viral traffic in early June, popping up on a number of far right blogs and fake news sites, never with attribution, and always linked back to a “story” from April 2018, written by someone named Baxter Dimitri for NewsPunch.com. That name might not be familiar, but that’s only because it’s the new name for an old thorn in the side of truth: the infamous fake news clearinghouse YourNewsWire.
That site, run out of Los Angeles and pumping out hundreds of clearly fake (but not clearly fake enough not to fool idiots) stories has been responsible for some of the worst viral garbage of the last few years. If you’ve gotten sucked into a story about a false flag, the Clintons killing someone, Pizzagate, vaccine hysteria, dead people voting, or Islam; there’s a good chance it’s come from YourNewsWire. And the site has been deplatformed and debunked dozens of times, only to come back with trash.
Their Biden story, which has been pulled down, but is still available on the Internet Wayback Machine, alleges that Biden’s roommate at Syracuse law school, Paul Tatchell, “revealed” Biden’s proclivities to Dimitri. ““He used to say it was his ‘civic responsibility’ and that if he didn’t ‘choke the chicken’ or ‘clean the hosepipe’ before spending time around children he wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off them,” Tatchell “said,” adding that Biden’s inability to control himself around kids is the reason he stopped drinking.
Needless to say, there’s no evidence that this quote was ever given, or that anything in the “NewsPunch” story is true. I couldn’t find any “Paul Tatchell” who attended Syracuse for law or anything else, and the only stories mentioning both “Tatchell” and Biden are copy-pastes of NewsPunch. The whole thing is fake, and only works because of Biden’s admittedly weird touchy-feely interactions with women on the campaign trail – which for some reason he keeps doing, after saying he needed to cut it out.
The story hasn’t gotten much traction outside of far right conspiracy theorists and blogs, but it’s worth noting simply as the first of what will be many, many, many conspiracy theories to come. And they’re already coming, with frenzied QAnon hysteria about Biden being a “body double” and that he called for a “physical revolution” against Trump.
Taken one at a time, they’re nonsensical and easily deflated. But they’re going to start flooding the zone, hitting us with so many conspiracy theories and false allegations that debunking them all will be a full time job that nobody actually wants to do.
If Biden’s campaign does indeed fizzle out, it shouldn’t be because of conspiracy theories and fake trash stories. It should be because the American people made a conscious choice to pick someone else.
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