Several right-wing conspiracy theory blogs are claiming that compelling video evidence shows the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, colluded with the moderator, Lester Holt, to rig the first presidential debate.
Hillary, according to the claims, cheated by using hand signals to communicate with Holt multiple times during the debate that took place on Monday, September 29, 2016, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
At strategic moments during the debate, Clinton allegedly used hand signals to instruct Holt to allow her to insert comments, retorts and “zingers” against her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.
Footage excerpted from a recording of the debate, first shared online by the alt-right conspiracy theory blog True Pundit, purports to show the former secretary of state and moderator Holt communicating by using pre-agreed secret hand signals.
True Pundit insisted the video proved convincingly that Clinton and Holt had agreed secretly before the debate that Clinton would scratch her nose and rub her face with a finger to sign that she would like to speak, interject with comments of her own or request the moderator to assist her by attacking her debate opponent.
The blog claimed it was aware of a plot to rig the debate a month ahead and had tried to warn Trump campaign and supporters about it.
Furtive hand signals are known widely as one of the easiest and most often used methods to communicate secretly, conspiracy theorists argued.
“You can be sure if this was a blackjack table and the house noticed a player making similar signals to a dealer they’d be investigated.”
The video — according to True Pundit — shows clearly that each time Clinton used her finger to touch her face, Holt called her within moments to comment, retort or react to Trump’s statements with a zinger. According to the blog, on some occasions, after Clinton had touched her face, Holt helped her by attacking Trump or countering his statements.
Infowars claimed the video shows Clinton making the first signal just before the “taxes zinger.”
The video evidence, according to YouTube conspiracy theorist No World Order, shows that Clinton signaled to Holt at least six times during the debate. She made long-drawn-out face scratching movements that indicated to the moderator that she wanted a chance to respond to Trump’s comments or arguments.
This gave Clinton an advantage because it allowed her to interject with pre-planned zingers at opportune moments during the debate, according to conspiracy theorists.
Evidence that Clinton and Holt were communicating secretly is clear from the fact that each time Clinton scratched her face, Holt intervened to her advantage, conspiracy theorists claimed.
“Once, twice, or even three times might be a coincidence. SIX TIMES!? That’s a conspiracy.”
Anticipating skeptical reactions from viewers, the True Pundit blog claimed that it searched through videos of Clinton’s past speeches, campaign appearances, and even her 2008 debate performances and found that she practically never touches her face with her finger during public appearances.
“In fact, she rarely touches her face at all,” the blog declared. “So, you haters can save the trouble of instructing people to remove their tin-foil hats.”
“Hillary Clinton is not above cheating, lying or stealing to get what she wants,” another right wing-leaning blog, Gateway Pundit, declared. “So it shouldn’t be any surprise that she is being accused of cheating during Monday’s first Presidential debate.”
According to Gateway Pundit and Infowars, journalist Mike Cernovich sent the video evidence to four-time world poker champion Mike Matusow, who looked at it and confirmed that Clinton was sending hand signals to Holt.
After YouTube took down the original video uploaded by True Pundit, citing copyrights violation, the blog denied it was guilty of copyright infringement and alleged the video was taken down to stop people from seeing the evidence that Clinton and Holt colluded to cheat.
Conspiracy theorists also claimed evidence that Holt leaked questions to Clinton ahead of the debate. According to the claim, immediately after the debate, as Clinton walked away, a man rushed to her podium and snatched all of the notes she used during the debate and took them to Holt (see video below).
“The notes contained most likely all the questions and pre-planned answers to Holt’s questions,” YouTube user Rusty TV claimed. “It was a #RiggedDebate.”
But online fact-checker Snopes dismissed the claims as baseless, insisting that the video does not show evidence that Clinton and Holt communicated via hand signals during the debate.
“The creator of the video simply strung together several unrelated events — Clinton scratching her face, Holt making a comment and Clinton replying to Trump — and then claimed that they were somehow connected to a furtive signaling plot without providing any proof,” Snopes argued.
The website also refuted claims that Clinton rarely touches her face with her fingers in public by publishing multiple photos showing Clinton touching her face in public.
Snopes noted that Trump also touched his face multiple times during the debate.
[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Photo]