Biden debate wire conspiracy me orig_00003917.jpg
This crease in Biden's shirt fueled a conspiracy theory
03:05 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump’s campaign has been serially dishonest on social media, repeatedly using altered or deceptively clipped videos and images to try to make opponent Joe Biden appear senile.

The Trump campaign is now running yet another series of inaccurate ads.

Trump allies baselessly hinted before Tuesday’s presidential debate that Biden was seeking to use an earpiece on stage, presumably to get real-time instructions from advisers.

Biden did not wear an earpiece, and there is no evidence he ever sought to wear one. (There is a history of phony conspiracy theories about debate earpieces.) But the Trump campaign nonetheless launched a series of still-image Facebook ads that purport to show a photo of Biden wearing an Apple-style white earpiece in his right ear.

Some of the ads feature a white circle around that part of the image, as if showing people where to look to see that Biden has been caught.

Facts First: The Trump ads’ image of Biden wearing an earpiece is not authentic. The image was manipulated to add the earpiece to a real photo that shows Biden without an earpiece.

The Trump campaign, in fact, is also running some anti-Biden ads that use that same Biden photo without the earpiece edited in.

The Trump campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said in a Thursday email in response to CNN’s request for comment that the ads featuring the earpiece are “obvious satire” of what he claimed was the Biden campaign’s decision to agree to a pre-debate earpiece inspection and then changing its mind.

There is no proof this happened. Regardless, it is not at all obvious that the ads are meant to be satirical. Some of the ads say things like “Joe’s BEGGING for breaks during the debate! CHECK JOE’S EARS! He REFUSED drug test & DECLINED an earpiece inspection!” Others say, “WHO IS IN JOE’S EAR?”

And Trump and his campaign have made an entirely serious, months-long effort to convince the public that Biden’s mind is not up to the job. They have repeatedly suggested, again baselessly, that Biden is incapable of speaking coherently without the aid of a teleprompter or even drugs.

The earpiece ads – some of which were still active as of Friday, three days after the debate – have collectively been seen millions of times, according to statistics from Facebook’s publicly accessible ad database. Facebook does not fact check politicians’ ads.

It’s not clear whether the Trump campaign did its own photoshop job or took the altered image from elsewhere.