Conservatives Run With Sketchy Conspiracy Website’s Utterly Baseless Claim Clinton Wanted To “Drone” Assange
Wikileaks and some conservative outlets are running with a claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton openly speculated about targeting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with a drone strike. But the report in question comes from an anonymously-sourced article from “True Pundit,” a fringe conspiracy website that even conservatives have criticized.
On October 2, True Pundit posted an article claiming that during a meeting of “State’s top brass” in 2010 to discuss how to deal with Wikileaks, Clinton asked of Assange, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” The site only attributes the comment to anonymous “State Department sources. ”The fact-checking website Snopes looked into the True Pundit article and found their claim “unproven,” pointing out that the source of their purported Clinton quote was “a vague and anonymous reference that does not yield to verification.” (It’s also unclear why multiple sources with knowledge of this supposed incident that took place in a meeting of senior State Department staff would choose to leak them to a minor conspiracy blogger rather than a credible news outlet. )
RT, the international news network owned by the Russian government, picked up the True Pundit story. Wikileaks’ official Twitter account also promoted the story, as did Trump allies Alex Jones and Roger Stone. FoxNews.com cited the Wikileaks tweet in its report on Assange rescheduling the time of a proposed address this week.
True Pundit’s supposed scoop comes on the heels of months of laughable articles forwarding conspiracies about Clinton.
The site wrote that anonymous “NYPD sources” had told them that during the recent Commander-In-Chief Forum, Clinton was “sporting a mini earbud wired to receive stealth communications from her campaign handlers.” (That conspiracy was picked up by the Trump campaign, along with Alex Jones, the Drudge Report, and Fox’s Sean Hannity)
The site also promoted a YouTube video claiming to show Clinton “using hand signals to trigger Lester Holt” during the presidential debate. (This claim was held up by Fox News as an example of conspiracy theories that came out of the debate.)
True Pundit claimed that during the debate there was a “medical episode played off by Hillary Clinton’s frozen smile, shaking head and upper torso with her eyes closed” during which “a concerned Donald Trump can be seen mouthing the word ‘seizure’ to his family and campaign advisors.”
In August, True Pundit offered “an unprecedented reward of $1 Million (One Million Dollars US) for Clinton’s true medical records” and said Clinton was rumored “to be suffering from a plethora of medical ailments” including dementia, post-concussion syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, a brain tumor, brain injury, and complex partial seizures.
Conservative blogger Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, no stranger to oddball conspiracy content, noted, “TruePundit may be a hoax website” (though he still devoted an article to promoting the claim about the Assange drone strike).
Heat Street, a conservative website run by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., also described the Assange drone story as a “conspiracy theory.”
Conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson of Alex Jones’ Infowars initially described the True Pundit story as “iffy,” but after Wikileaks posted it said, “thought this was a fake story, until Wikileaks tweeted it out.”