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Trump’s debate misinformation aimed at Biden amplified online

Donald Trump’s second presidential debate performance was less chaotic as a result of changes to the event’s format, but it was still filled with misinformation that was in turn amplified by high-profile conservative voices and other supporters online. Trump made several false or misleading statements that drew upon recent New York Post articles containing dubious claims about the Biden family’s foreign business dealings. For instance, he repeated an unverified claim that Hunter Biden took a secret $3.5 million payment from Moscow’s mayor, which The Federalist’s Sean Davis and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk then shared on Twitter. Trump also repeated claims made by several media outlets that Biden was the “big guy” mentioned in emails released by the New York Post, a claim media personality Buck Sexton tweeted.

Tony Bobulinski, who says he is a former business partner of the Bidens in China and has been cited as a source of the $3.5 million claim, attended the debate as Trump’s guest. Although Bobulinski’s name has become a media lightning rod for criticism of the Bidens, a Wall Street Journal report last night cast doubt on his account. Trump also repeated misinformation concerning the separation of families of undocumented migrants at the southern US border, asking Biden, “Who built the cages, Joe?” That taunt quickly became a rallying cry for his supporters, with at least a dozen tweets from unverified accounts echoing the line and picking up hundreds of shares. But the implication is a misleading conflation of the Obama administration’s immigration policies with the zero-tolerance program launched by the Trump administration.