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The Bizarre Debate Conspiracy Theory That’s Spreading In Alt-Right Circles

by Eric Pfeiffer

September 28, 2016

A truly bizarre new theory is making the rounds on conservative and skeptic news sites claiming that Hillary Clinton was secretly sending hand signals to debate moderator Lester Holt so that he would ask her softball questions during the debate.

The alt-right news site True Pundit started the thread, posting an unintentionally hilarious video showing Hillary Clinton scratching her nose during the debate, which they claim was a clear signal to Holt to turn the discussion over to Clinton so she could deploy a “zinger” against Donald Trump. 

The whole 7-minute video is very strange, with the first 90 seconds filled with ominous music before the rest of the video just randomly carries on in silence. Their main point of “evidence” seems to rest on claims that they scoured through previous debate footage of Clinton and couldn’t a single instance of her touching her face.

Perhaps knowing how implausible this would sound to rational people across the political spectrum, the site wants us to know they get it, this sounds absolutely nuts. But no, don’t walk away. We can explain everything:

“Before critics view this video and scream Conspiracy, True Pundit cross referenced Clinton’s speeches, campaign appearances and her 2008 debate performances against President Obama. According to that analysis, Clinton never previously used these hand motions to supposedly scratch her face. In fact, she rarely touches her face at all. (So, you haters can save the trouble of instructing people to remove their tin-foil hats.)”

And as with any conspiracy theory, good or bad, there seem to be a ton of people perfectly willing to align themselves with it in the face of healthy skepticism. Or, even, you know, actual evidence.Adding fuel to the fire, the video was reportedly taken down from YouTube after a number of user complaints.

Another site even asked professional poker player Mike Matusow to weigh in and he totally agrees: Hillary Clinton was cheating. Of course, one quick scroll through his Twitter reveals a series of borderline unhinged missives about Clinton, accusing her of “murder” amongst other crimes. Along with being a “4 time World Series of Poker champion,” his own bio also lists him as operating in the formal capacity of “current political activist against Hillary Rotten Clinton.” So, you know, an authority figure.

Sadly, this is just the latest conspiracy theory to emerge less than 48 hours since Trump and Clinton held their first debate. Within moments, a number of people were claiming that Clinton wore a secret earpiece feeding her answers and lines to use against Trump. A similarly unsubstantiated claim was made by liberals against George W. Bush during his 2004 debates with John Kerry. 

Things have gotten so crazy that Snopes, the site dedicated to debunking or confirming rumors, weighed in. Here’s what they had to say:

“The above-displayed video does not provide any evidence that Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt communicated via hand signals so that Clinton could indicate to Holt when she wanted him to call on her so she could get in a "zinger." The creator of the video simply strung together several unrelated events — Clinton scratching her face, Holt making a comment, Clinton replying to Trump — and then claimed that they were somehow connected to a furtive signaling plot without providing any proof.”

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The Bizarre Debate Conspiracy Theory That’s Spreading In Alt-Right Circles