The media had a collective hissy fit over the Kamala Harris birther conspiracy theory and President Trump’s failure to adequately dismiss QAnon, but they did nothing to condemn the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which spent four days hyping bogus conspiracy theories.
Is this surprising? Of course not. As I’ve previously reported, while the media was quick to denounce the theory that Kamala Harris, despite being born in the United States, is not a natural-born citizen because she was born to non-citizens, they pounced on birther conspiracy theories about John McCain, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal—who all happen to have been Republican presidential candidates.
The 2020 Democratic National Convention seemed to be defined by left-wing conspiracy theories that make you wonder how it is possible that the Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties and not some fringe third party that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
1. The ‘Russian bounties’ hoax
During his acceptance speech, Biden claimed “America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers.”
Biden was referring to an allegation made back in June when the New York Times published a report claiming that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops,” and that President Trump has done nothing about it despite being briefed on it in March.
The claim was quickly debunked. “I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times,” John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence tweeted.
Catherine Herridge, a senior investigative reporter for CBS News, also reported that a “senior intel official” told her the “GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB).”
Herridge also stated that the NSC official “confirmed the NSC has been doing ‘due diligence,’ and going back through their files since the story broke Friday, and they have not found the ‘intelligence assessment’ described in media reporting.”
Herridge added that an “intelligence official with direct knowledge” said intel on alleged Russian bounties only reached “low levels” of the NSC but “did not go further” because it was deemed “uncorroborated” and because of “dissent” within the intelligence community.
This corroborated a statement from the Pentagon indicating that the Department of Defense had “no corroborating evidence to validate” the allegations.
2. Trump’s Dismantling the Postal Service
Trump has made no secret to his opposition to universal mail-in voting, citing the potential for fraud. Though recent problems in various states with mail-in voting should have put this issue to bed, Democrats have accused Trump of trying to undermine the election by “defunding” the USPS and by allegedly removing collection boxes to suppress the vote during an election that many are insisting should be conducted via mail because of the pandemic.
Reports of collection boxes being removed in Montana added fuel to the conspiracy theory. A photo of collection boxes piled up behind a chain-link fence in Wisconsin went viral, and was purported to be “proof” that Trump was “suppressing the vote.” But even the left-wing website Vox had to admit that the viral photo was “a lesson in misinformation.”
“This photo of collection boxes represents a particularly dangerous form of misinformation,” explained Vox reporter Rebecca Heilweil. “But … the collection boxes in the image aren’t in a dump. They’re on a lot operated by a company called Hartford Finishing, which regularly refurbishes mailboxes for the Postal Service.”
Some collection boxes have been removed, but as part of a longstanding effort to cut costs for the USPS, which loses money every year.
In September 2016, the USPS inspector general noted that “Nationally, the number of collection boxes declined by more than 12,000 in the past 5 years.” This means that the USPS, during the Obama-Biden administration, removed thousands of mail collection boxes. Was this a diabolical plan by Obama and Biden to suppress the vote in 2020? Did Trump make them do it?
USPS spokeswoman Kimberly Frum told The Hill that installation and removal of USPS collection boxes has been going on for decades. “It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day. Historically, mailboxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas,” she explained. “When a collection box consistently receives very small amounts of mail for months on end, it costs the Postal Service money in fuel and workhours for letter carriers to drive to the mailbox and collect the mail. Removing the box is simply good business sense in that respect. It is important to note that anyone with a residential or business mailbox can use it as a vehicle to send outgoing mail.”
She also noted box removals are done on a case-by-case basis and low-volume boxes are kept if they are the only means of sending mail in certain areas.
There has never been a plot to undermine the USPS. If Trump was trying to sabotage the 2020 election by removing collection boxes, the Obama-Biden administration would be just as guilty.
3. The Trump-Russia collusion hoax
The whole Trump/Russia collusion nonsense should have ended with the Mueller report, but how many unfunny jokes and references to Russia were made during the Democratic National Convention? “Vote for honest elections, so we, not a foreign adversary, choose our president,” implored Hillary Clinton during her speech on the third night of the convention. On the final night, former Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus quipped, “If we all vote there is nothing Facebook, Fox News, or Vladimir Putin can do to stop us.”
I guess that was intended to be funny, but there’s really nothing funny about perpetuating the falsehood that Trump colluded with Russia to win the election. Not only was that conspiracy theory debunked by the Mueller report, but former top Obama administration officials also admit they never had any empirical evidence of collusion.
“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before the House Intelligence Committee in 2017.
When asked if she ever saw evidence of collusion, former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice answered, “I don’t recall any intelligence or evidence to that effect.” She gave the same answer when asked about collusion.
Obama’s former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes also had nothing. “I wouldn’t have received any information on any criminal or counterintelligence investigations into what the Trump campaign was doing, so I would not have seen that information,” he testified. “I saw indications of potential coordination, but I did not see, you know, the specific evidence of the actions of the Trump campaign.”
Intelligence declassified in April also suggested that Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan suppressed evidence that Russia actually wanted to help Hillary Clinton “and put forward lower quality intelligence to claim the Russians backed Trump.”
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis