The right-wing blogosphere is abuzz once again with claims that the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was wearing an electronic earpiece during Monday night’s first 2016 presidential debate with the GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
She is presumed to have worn the alleged earpiece to gain an unfair advantage by receiving assistance or coaching from aides during the debate.
The latest claim appears to have originated from Charisma News, a Christian news website that describes itself “as informing believers with news from a spirit-filled perspective.” It follows previous allegations that she received assistance or coaching remotely from aides through an electronic listening device worn inside her ear during the Commander-in-Chief forum held in New York City on September 7, 2016.
In an article titled “Has Hillary Been Caught Cheating Again?” Charisma News presented a Reuters image that allegedly proves Clinton was wearing a flesh-colored device in her left ear during Monday night’s debate. The website also accused Clinton of having cheated similarly in a previous occasion.
“During the C-in-C forum held in New York City on Sept. 7, close-up photos of Clinton’s left ear showed she had some sort of earpiece in it.
“A Reuters photo shows she may have had the same type of device in her ear again… Was she getting instructions while she was engaged in the debate?”
The image was presented to back claims that she was wearing a secret device under her pantsuit.
“This wouldn’t be the first time Hillary had to use a device for help,” the Political Insider Blog declared.
Blog readers speculated that the bulge under her suit may have been a device to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The bulge may have been caused by a battery pack worn by people with “advanced Parkinson’s disease” a reader suggested.
Still others argued it may have been a “cough prevention machine” or a cardiac pacemaker.
A few claimed the bulge was the wire running down from her earpiece to a transmitter concealed under her suit.
But the fact-checking website Snopes argued that the bulge did not prove she was wearing a secret earpiece, a cardiac pacemaker, a “cough prevention machine,” or even a device to control the symptoms of “advanced Parkinson’s disease.”
Snopes noted that a screengrab from a broadcast of the debate by NBC News showed that Clinton and Trump wore lapel microphones and thus the bulge may have been caused by an incidental wrinkle in her suit or by the wire of the lapel microphone passing beneath her suit to a transmitter.
The website also argued that the bulge could not have been due to a wire passing from an earpiece in her left ear to a transmitter under her suit because there was no evidence of a wire running down her ear and neck.
But conspiracy theorists who were committed to the suggestion that the former secretary of state was wearing an earpiece argued that the bulge under her suit may have been caused by a wireless microphone battery pack that powered her earpiece.
Multiple right wing news sites and blogs echoed the claims that Clinton was wearing electronic devices with the intention of cheating or to prevent another “medical episode” during the debate. Right-wing-leaning netizens conducted close-up and zoom-in analysis of the Reuters image that was alleged to show her wearing an earpiece.
While most commenters on right-wing political forums agreed she was wearing an electronic device in her ear, opinions differed about the purpose of the alleged device. The majority agreed that she was cheating by receiving assistance remotely from coaching aides. Others speculated it may have been a hearing aid.
“There are three possibilities,” Charisma News suggested, fueling the rumors. “A hearing aid — loss of hearing or dulled hearing is not uncommon for people of Clinton’s age, particularly for those who have suffered a traumatic head injury, like a concussion.”
The website also suggested it may have been an “inductive earpiece.”
“Stage actors often use these [inductive earpieces] to help with cues and missed lines during performances. They are meant to be concealed, and with Bluetooth technology…”
The website’s third suggestion was an “anti-seizure device.”
“Sound can trigger certain forms of seizures,” Charisma News lectured readers. “A German-engineered device called the Epitect fits inside the ear and can detect and warn of an impending seizure, but more closely resembles a more traditional hearing aid with a component that hangs behind the ear.”
The Christian website concluded by arguing that regardless of which of the three options was true, the revelation has discredited Clinton’s candidacy because it proves that she either suffers “an undisclosed health condition, ranging from mild to severe, or she’s been cheating…”
Before the presidential debate on Monday, September 26, the World Tribune had laid the foundations for the rumors with an article published on Sunday, September 25. It suggested that Clinton may have decided to cheat because FEC rules did not specifically rule out the use of earpieces by presidential candidates during debates.
The website cited a request submitted on September 8 by a worried voter from Columbia, Maryland, that FEC should clarify the issue of candidates wearing earpieces during presidential debates.
“Surely this is a more serious violation of competition than the doping which the Olympics have had to clean up,” the letter read. “Can you please confirm that your commission will take conclusive steps to ensure that no such cheating takes place during the debates?”
But — according to the World Tribune — FEC Commissioner Matthew Petersen declined to give a “clear response.”
The voter wrote a follow-up letter on September 21.
“I’m really discouraged not to have received a confirmation from you or from your office that your policy will be to disallow the two candidates to wear ear microphones,” the letter read. “Am I to interpret your lack of a response to mean that such behavior will, indeed be accepted?”
An FEC attorney then reportedly advised Laurence B. that his “complaint” must be “sworn to and signed in the presence of a notary public and notarized” before the FEC would give a response. But Laurence B. insisted that he was not seeking to file a complaint with the FEC but only a clarification of the rules on wearing of earpieces during presidential debates.
But, according to the World Tribune, the FEC did not respond.
Since the beginning of the current election cycle, before rumors that Clinton was cheating by wearing an earpiece to forums and debates emerged, right-wing bloggers had been actively pushing claims about Clinton wearing secret and mysterious devices under her pantsuits.
It was rumored widely last August that she was caught with a defibrillator under her jacket.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Photo]