WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump’s campaign is pushing an absurd conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton wore an earpiece during an NBC News forum Wednesday, in just the latest example of Trump and his supporters circulating things that are untrue in an effort to attack the Democratic nominee.
The new accusation was detailed in a story on Infowars, a site run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The story features a zoomed-in picture of Clinton with her ear circled, purporting to show a device hidden there. (Her ear just seems shiny, if anything.) Despite a lack of any evidence, the story claimed that the earpiece showed Clinton cheated during the forum or had a health issue.
The article was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr. and A.J. Delgado, a Trump adviser. The story also led The Drudge Report, the influential conservative website.
Delgado tweeted again about the earpiece, but then deleted her post.
CNN’s Brian Stelter noted that an earpiece never would have been allowed.
Infowars’ Jones believes that 9/11 and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were inside jobs, and has boasted about advising Trump.
Trump’s campaign has given oxygen to those who traffic conspiracy theories in the dark corners of the internet, and the Republican nominee seems to relish the opportunity to bring these fringe claims into the mainstream.
He has publicly questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States and has refused to denounce those who still dispute Obama’s birthplace. His campaign has also pushed the unsubstantiated claim that Clinton is medically unfit to be president. He said he saw thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey after 9/11― which also isn’t true.
His comments ― at times racist, xenophobic or sexist ― have motivated fringe groups, including white supremacists, to mobilize for his campaign and continue to churn out their crackpot theories.
Clinton called out this issue in a speech in August, explaining how Trump has brought “alt-right” beliefs into everyday public discourse, at the expense of any real policy proposals or ideas for how to move the nation forward.
Earlier this week, she brushed off the endless number of conspiracy theories that Republicans have thrown at her.
“I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory because, honestly, they never quit,” she said.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.