A former executive at Fox News promoted emails he claimed he obtained from the laptop of Hunter Biden on a far-right message board and told users on the message board he had hoped they would “go to work” on all of the alleged emails, days after an account on that same forum had hinted at and promoted upcoming reports about the emails before they were published.
On October 14, the New York Post released a series of articles claiming to show emails from the laptop of Hunter Biden -- the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden -- in which he arranged for a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm to meet with the then-vice president when he was in charge of U.S. policy toward Ukraine. However, the articles falsely claimed Joe Biden got a prosecutor fired in order to help Hunter and made a series of other questionable conclusions.
The Post also obtained the material from a questionable source: Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, who claimed he got it from a store owner who obtained the laptop. Giuliani and Stephen Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, have since continued to promote content that they claim, without evidence, is from the alleged emails.
On October 15, Ken LaCorte posted on The Donald.win, “New Hunter Biden Emails Released: Burisma tasked him and team to help ‘close down’ Ukrainian investigations. (Email cache available for download.),” linking to his site the Media Action Network. LaCorte is a former executive at Fox News who killed a story in 2016 about Trump’s relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels and has since run a network of Macedonia-based sites spreading misinformation. (Breitbart the following day published an article about the supposed emails that cited LaCorte directly.) To prove LaCorte was who he said he was in response to skeptical users, he tweeted a link to the thread.
In the thread, LaCorte told users that he obtained the emails “from the store owner himself, after he'd given the big batch to Rudy but before he know they were successfully shopped to the NY Post” and that he has released “everything I have” of the alleged emails.
On October 20, LaCorte participated in an “AMA” (or “Ask Me Anything”) on the forum, where he continued to promote the alleged emails he obtained, writing, “Before they were published in the NY Post, I was helping that Delaware computer shop whistleblower get his story out. I had dozens of the emails and many conversations with him. The press is smearing him, but he’s a true patriot and I believe him 100%.”
He added in the thread that the store owner “sent a few notices to some rightwing outlets, who ignored him. Probably accidentaly. Then Rudy. And when Rudy was slow, me.” He also wrote that he had “many convos” with that store owner.
LaCorte also wrote that if he had all of Hunter’s emails, he would have “release[d] anything related to Burisma, China or anything else with whiffs of corruption, and let the internet autists go to work” on the emails. (“Internet autists” is likely a reference to what forum users called themselves when digging through and interpreting hacked documents from WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election.) He also praised the forum as a “success story” that “needs to be expanded” because it “showed people how to abandon a lefty mothership and create a real alternative.”
LaCorte’s promotion of the alleged Hunter Biden material comes days after another user on the forum (with an apparent white nationalist username) was hinting at and promoting the Hunter Biden materials days before the New York Post articles were published; the user had written on the forum that the “parties involved” “know TheDonald is very important” and “so they let me share this.”
TheDonald.win and its previous iteration, “r/The_Donald,” which was eventually banned by Reddit, have been repeatedly involved with spreading far-right misinformation, conspiracy theories, and far-right campaigns -- some of it about elections and efforts to vote, including a Trump campaign poll-watching operation that the site’s users promoted.
The message board also has other ties to extremism; users of the old Reddit version shared content from white nationalist figures and used it to promote the deadly 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The new version now helps host other extremist communities. Users have also used the forum to direct calls to violence against law enforcement and government officials, a behavior which originally got “r/The_Donald” quarantined by Reddit a year before its ban.