Trump supporters linked to Steve Bannon pushing ‘fantastical rumors’ to try to ‘pizzagate’ Joe Biden: report
White House chief strategist and former executive Steve Bannon. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

NBC News on Thursday published a blockbuster report on efforts to smear former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Some of the same people who pushed a false conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton that first emerged in 2016 are now targeting Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, with similar falsehoods. Their online posts are garnering astronomical numbers of shares on social media," NBC News correspondents Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny reported Thursday.

"The fantastical rumors, which NBC News is declining to repeat verbatim, echo specific plot points central to 'pizzagate,' a viral disinformation campaign that predates QAnon but also falsely alleges a vast conspiracy of child abuse," NBC News explained. "There is an important difference, however. The pizzagate-style rumors in 2016 were largely confined to far-right message boards like 4chan and parts of Reddit. But the Hunter Biden iteration of the same conspiracy theory took off last weekend with the help of speculation from conservative TV hosts and members of Congress. Their theorizing can be traced back to a new website that has been promoted by President Donald Trump and his surrogates."

"The disinformation campaign appears to have been successful in its goal of generating a smear against the former vice president's son. According to Google Trends, 'human trafficking' is now the third-most common related search term for 'Hunter Biden' in the last year, after 'laptop' and 'New York Post,' which point to search interest around the unconfirmed allegations that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden contained evidence of crimes," NBC explained. "But the child abuse conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden that emerged from the fringes of the internet began swirling before the New York Post article and can be traced to associates of former White House aide Steve Bannon. They are now reaching a fever pitch less than two weeks before the election, in which Trump trails Biden in most national and many battleground state polls."