6 Viral Conspiracy Theories About the Trump-Biden Debate That Are Totally Fake (2024)

President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump are scheduled to square off tonight in the first of two presidential debates for the 2024 election season. But this week has seen a number of conspiracy theories go viral on social media, with many people claiming there are shadowy forces conspiring to help Biden and hurt Trump.

The debate, which is the earliest ever for two presidential candidates, will be hosted by CNN in Atlanta and starts at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT. Roughly 60% of Americans say they plan to tune in tonight, but anyone who’s been following politics on platforms like X, Facebook, and TikTok has probably already seen ridiculous conspiracy theories about what’s going to happen.

We’ve compiled some of the most prominent conspiracy theories below, including everything from claims that Biden will be wearing an earpiece to wild ideas that the broadcast will be tampered with in some way.

What’s driving these bizarre conspiracy theories? It seems that supporters of Trump are absolutely terrified that Biden will perform well against the former president and are doing their best to preemptively insist that any strong performance by Biden was rigged in some way. Trump himself was saying just last month that Biden was a terrible debater.

“Crooked Joe Biden is the WORST debater I have ever faced — He can’t put two sentences together!” Trump wrote on Truth Social back in May.

But Trump has changed his tune in recent weeks, saying on the All-In Podcast that Biden is a “worthy debater” and insisting “I don’t want to underestimate him.”

Trump, a convicted felon who tried to stage a coup to remain in power on January 6, 2021, has obviously been trying to manage expectations so that he doesn’t look like an idiot. But he also has an army of sycophants online who are happy to muddy the waters in an effort to sow confusion, as you can see from the examples below.

1) Will the CNN debate have a 2-minute broadcast delay?

X user Patrick Webb, who works for a right-wing “news” website called the Leading Report, claimed on Thursday that CNN would be broadcasting on an unusually large delay, the implication being that CNN would be able to edit out any of Biden’s 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 on Thursday.

CNN denied the claim, tweeting, “This is false. The debate will begin live at 9pm ET.”

Oddly, Webb followed up by sharing a screenshot of a conversation he had with ChatGPT about the definition of “live TV,” which is a bit like asking a Speak N Spell about a complex math problem. After getting ridiculed for it, Webb deleted the tweet, as you can see in the screenshot below.

6 Viral Conspiracy Theories About the Trump-Biden Debate That Are Totally Fake (1)

Webb is clearly flailing trying to rationalize a claim that has no credible source.

The Leading Report’s top story right now is a false claim that covid-19 vaccines give people cancer, if you want to know how seriously you should take the website and anyone who works for it.

2) Will Biden be hopped up on performance-enhancing drugs?

One of the most popular conspiracy theories online right now is that President Biden will be using all kinds of drugs to make himself appear lucid. The claim implicitly accuses the president of having dementia, something Trump has said repeatedly despite his own rambling incoherence at rallies and media appearances.

Laura Loomer, a hateful bigot who’s been banned from over a dozen tech platforms for her bigotry, helped fuel the claim that Biden was going to be hopped up on performance-enhancing drugs Thursday in a tweet.

“JUST IN:@JoeBiden just refused to take a drug test ahead of the Presidential debate tonight,” Loomer 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.”

But it’s all bullsh*t, of course.

As the Washington Post explained recently, there’s no drug currently on the market that makes you more coherent or masks the symptoms of dementia. If there was such a drug we’d be giving it to all Alzheimer’s patients and making the world a much more manageable place for everyone.

And it’s entirely possible that this is another instance of Trump projecting. After all, Trump’s personal White House doctor, Ronny Jackson (who Trump recently called “Ronny Johnson”), 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.

3) Will Biden be wearing an earpiece?

The idea that Joe Biden will be wearing an earpiece has been around for a long time, Trump even ran an ad back in 2020 accusing the president of precisely that. Professional ratf*cker and Trump advisor Roger Stone tweeted on Wednesday to help spread the baseless idea for 2024.

“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.

There’s no evidence Biden will be wearing an earpiece and even just thinking about how difficult it would be to listen to someone in your ear while trying to counter a loudmouth like Donald Trump makes it absurd on its face.

4) Will Biden be replaced by a body double?

Most of the craziest conspiracy theories have originated online. But Fox News is no slouch when it comes to the dumbest possible ideas for how Biden might cheat. For example, Greg Gutfeld from Fox’s show The Five insisted earlier this week that it was inherently suspicious that Biden was spending so much time at Camp David to prepare for the debate.

“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.

Greg Gutfeld on Biden's 7 days of debate prep:

“What does that tell you? That he won’t be missed because it’s no different whether he’s there or not.

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?" pic.twitter.com/DZCwWO8993

— Eddie (@Eddies_X) June 25, 2024

Obviously Gutfeld would likely say he was just joking, but it’s an idea that’s extremely popular among the far-right and QAnon-focused crowd. In fact, there have been several times during Biden’s presidency when conspiracy theorists online have claimed that Biden is either actually being represented by a body double or someone is appearing in public while wearing a Biden mask.

Unfortunately, the “evidence” presented for the mask theory is easily explained by what happens to everyone’s skin as we age. It droops, whether you like it or not.

5) Is CNN blocking access for journalists to cover up medical emergencies?

The White House Correspondents’ Association, which lobbies on behalf of journalists for the White House, wrote to CNN on Tuesday asking for better access to the debate. As it stands now, journalists in Atlanta will only be allowed in an adjacent room watching a livestream.

As Bloomberg explains (emphasis ours):

The concern among the other networks is that something could happen in the debate room that only CNN journalists would witness. 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.

That line about medical emergencies made its way to the internet without any context and is being twisted to suggest that a “medical emergency” is a given.

As one tech reporter phrased it on X, media was “banished from the room in case of a ‘presidential medical emergency’.” The implication, of course, is that Biden would be the one keeling over and CNN doesn’t want other journalists to see for some shady unspecified reason.

But there’s no evidence that CNN is forcing journalists to a different room for any other reason than they hold all the power during this debate. CNN booked it, circumventing the normal rules that have dictated previous debates through the neutral arbiter, the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been iced out.

CNN even released a statement Thursday to former CNN journalist Brian Stelter practically saying as much—they’re in charge and they don’t want other media there.

As proud members of the White House Correspondents Association, we respect the role the organization plays and their support for press freedom and access. CNN’s Presidential Debate is being held without an audience in a CNN studio and is closed to press. The feed was made available to Washington Pool Members, Washington Pool subscribers and CNN Affiliates, and is also available to embed via CNN’s YouTube channel without charge for digital outlets and is available on CNN.com. Following our traditional approach, CNN is providing access to the debate studio for a tight pool of photographers for the duration of the event and a larger group of photographers during a commercial break. In addition, CNN is providing access to the debate hall for the designated print pool reporter during the first commercial break to allow them to provide a pool report from inside the debate studio.

That, of course, won’t stop the conspiracy theories.

6) Will Biden be replaced?

Body doubles aside, there’s a persistent theory that Biden will be replaced before the November election.

According to Jason Calacanis from 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 it’s too early to definitively debunk this one, because anything can indeed happen in this crazy world, there’s absolutely no evidence this is the case. It simply defies logic that Biden would bow out at this point. He’s had many, many opportunities to say he wouldn’t want to run and only endangers a Democratic win for any successor the longer he waits.

Again, anything can happen. But this idea that Biden will get replaced at the last minute really only shows up on Fox News or the most ridiculous corners of the internet.

6 Viral Conspiracy Theories About the Trump-Biden Debate That Are Totally Fake (2024)
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