Joe Biden was not caught wearing a wire during the first presidential debate against President Donald Trump. Photos and video clips posted on social media claiming to show a wire on the former vice president during the September 29 showdown actually show a wrinkle or crease in Biden’s dress shirt.
Other photos of Biden’s wrist show the rosary beads he wears in honor of his late son Beau Biden poking out of the cuff of his shirt. Biden’s campaign has strongly denied that the Democratic presidential candidate would be wearing an earpiece, wire or any other technological device to aid him during the debate. The Trump campaign sought to have an independent person check Biden for an earpiece, wires or other electronic devices before the debate, but the Biden campaign said it would not dignify that request with a response.
A tweet from the actor James Woods, a prominent Trump supporter, saying, “There it is. #JoeWired,” featuring a video of Biden adjusting his suit jacket has thousands of retweets and likes and more than 2.7 million views.
Conspiracy theories about hidden earpieces or that Biden was wired up have spread since the Democratic primary debates, according to The New York Times. Trump supporters also accused Hillary Clinton of wearing an earpiece during the 2016 presidential debate, according to The Washington Post.
President George W. Bush was also accused of wearing a wire during debates against John Kerry and Al Gore faced similar accusations in 2000, The Times wrote. Kevin Roose wrote in The Times piece, “The idea of a hidden helper giving one side an unfair debate advantage has proved seductive to campaign operatives trying to explain away a lopsided debate, or sow doubts about cheating on the other side.”
The Biden campaign has not commented on the conspiracy theories stemming from the first debate, but before the debate, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield called efforts to promote the theories a “distraction,” according to USA Today. Bedingfield told reporters during a pre-debate call, “Of course he’s not wearing an earpiece.”
Here’s what you need to know about the disproven accusations that Biden was wired during the first presidential debate:
High-Quality Images of Biden at the Debate Show What Some Say Was a Wire Was Actually Just a Wrinkle & the ‘Mic’ or ‘IV Port’ Coming From His Wrist Was His Rosary Beads
While images and videos recorded off of TV screens and low-quality screenshots could lead one to think Biden was caught wearing a wire during the first presidential debate, a look at high-quality images and videos show that is not true. What some are calling a wire is actually a wrinkle in Biden’s shirt, those photos and videos show. Radio host Wayne Dupree tweeted a photo showing that the same crease can also be seen on the other side of Biden’s shirt.
“I see some people are claiming Biden had a wire on the left side of his shirt but no attachment to the ear, eh?” Dupree, a conservative, tweeted. “Watch the video another minute. This shows on the right side. I guess he had a wire on the right side too? It’s a damn starched shirt with wrinkles. Good Lord.”
Seana Davis, a social media correspondent with EuroNews who focuses on debunking misinformation, tweeted, “A video now going viral which was first shared on Facebook and has racked up over 500,000k views on Twitter makes the claim using a low-resolution phone recording of a screen that Biden was wearing a wire during the debate. This is a crease on his shirt.” Davis also pointed to the full video of the debate, saying that at the 1-hour-and-5-minute mark, it can be seen that the wire was a wrinkle.
Trump supporters have also pointed to screenshots showing something coming out of Biden’s shirt sleeve, near the cuff and his wrist, claiming it could be another wire or an “IV port.” But a closer examination shows it is actually Biden’s rosary beads, which he wears every day in honor of his late son, Beau Biden, who died of cancer in 2015.
NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny tweeted, “Doesn’t get more stupid or ghoulish than the false rumor that a rosary Biden wears in memory of Beau Biden was some sort of mic to somehow help him cheat during the debate.”
Biden talked about wearing the rosary beads during a 2017 interview with Megyn Kelly, according to The Huffington Post. “I have not taken off the rosary Beau was wearing when he passed, since then. It is my connection with him,” Biden said.
The beads were bought by his other son, Hunter Biden, at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Biden told Kelly. He said everyone in his family wore them. “I am a practicing Catholic. Beau was a devout Catholic as well. Both of us found solace in the elements of the church. It is almost like meditation for us,” Biden told Kelly.
The False Claims About Biden Wearing a Wire Are Being Pushed by QAnon Supporters
Many of those spreading the false claims about Biden being wired during the debate on social media are supporters of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory. Zadrozny, an expert on QAnon and in debunking other disinformation spread on social media, tweeted, “The ‘Joe Biden was wearing a wire’ nonsense is a QAnon thing. Pushed by QAnon account, and made by ‘A Patriot’ what Q people calls themselves now that they’re hiding their power level.”
A “Q drop” from before the debate claimed Biden would be wearing a wire during the clash against Trump, and that appears to have led QAnon followers to be on the lookout for wires or electronic devices.
The reaction from QAnon supporters to the debate was not surprising, according to conspiracy theory debunker Mike Rothschild, who hosts a podcast about QAnon and is writing a book about it. Rothschild tweeted, “Not much to report on the QAnon front. They think Trump dominated and crushed all his enemies beneath his boot heel, but they think that every day. So…meh..”
According to Ben Collins, another NBC News reporter who has written extensively about conspiracy theories, the rosary beads rumor is also being pushed by followers of Q. Collins tweeted, “QAnon people think Joe Biden was wearing a wire last night, including a mic on his wrist. The ‘mic’ is rosary for his dead son.”
The Trump Campaign Has Capitalized on the Viral Conspiracy Theories by Running Facebook Ads About Biden Wearing an Ear Piece
The Trump campaign has not been shy about adding fuel to the fire regarding the Biden earpiece conspiracy theory. According to BBC News disinformation and social media reporter Marianna Spring, the campaign has been running ads on Facebook baselessly claiming Biden would be wearing an earpiece.
Spring tweeted, “The Trump campaign is now running Ads promoting the baseless conspiracy theory about Biden wearing an ear piece during the debate! Ads currently reaching a possible half a million people with disinformation.”
Prior to the debate, the Team Trump Twitter account tweeted, “#CheckJoesEars. Get it trending!”
Biden mocked the Trump campaign in a pre-debate tweet, posting a photo on Twitter of Apple headphones and ice cream and writing, “It’s debate night, so I’ve got my earpiece and performance enhancers ready.”
Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to Biden’s campaign, told reporters about the earpiece conspiracy theories, “This is so ridiculous. This is absolutely ridiculous,” according to The Washington Post’s Matt Viser.