Reporters debunk a new Biden conspiracy theory that has Republicans and right-wing media 'running wild'
When Sen. James Risch of Idaho questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week during a hearing on the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan, he promoted the latest far-right conspiracy theory: that members of the Biden White House are controlling when the president does and doesn't speak — a claim that is being promoted by Fox News but is being debunked by reporters at more reliable media outlets.
Risch told Blinken, "Somebody in the White House has the authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president's speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?" And Blinken, who found the question bizarre, responded, "I think anyone who knows the president, including members of this committee, knows that he speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself. No one else does."
On Fox News, anchor Sandra Smith asked, "Is somebody telling (Biden) he can't continue, and are they now to the point where they are controlling when he has to end his speaking?"
The Daily Beast's Justin Barragona observed:
The Fox News-GOP feedback loop, laid out perfectly.\n\nSmith: "I will tell you, this came up in the hearing room today, we heard Sen. Risch is about this... it\u2019s come to the point, John, where senators are now asking about this in hearing rooms."pic.twitter.com/tRiG8tcTPv— Justin Baragona (@Justin Baragona) 1631645847
In response to Barragona, Twitter user Sarah Margaret Smith noted:
Yes. The point of a pool spray is that part of a meeting is televised while the rest is private. So Biden's mic really *is* being cut, but it's totally benign.\nBut the GOP is using it to attack his age and spread lies about his health and cognitive abilities.— Sarah Margaret Smith (@Sarah Margaret Smith) 1631646649
Some of the most aggressive debunking of the conspiracy theory is coming from CNN's Daniel Dale. This week on Twitter, Dale explained how the idea was picked up by the GOP and funneled into right-wing media. It then continued into a "Fox News-GOP feedback loop," as Baragona explained.
Prompted by a Republican National Committee tweet, right-wing media covered this like the White House was nervously censoring Biden as he went off script. In fact, as you've probably seen, it's entirely normal for the press to be ushered out/the cam to be shut off mid-meeting.— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale) 1631633166
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