Can't Follow Bannon, Giuliani's Bizarre, Made-Up JOE BIDEN CORRUPTION China Plot? Here, Try Some Crack!
Oh, the GOP wants to talk about FAKE DOSSIER do they? Want to talk about misinformation campaigns and foreign election interference? Yes, let's have that talk.
Let's talk about the bullshit Hunter Biden dossier these coprophagic lunatics swallowed whole after watching it slide out the back end of their own fake news ecosystem. Extra fiber from China eases the way!
Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny from NBC got the goods. (Again.) Apparently, a guy named Martin Aspen cooked up a 64-page "intelligence report" on Hunter Biden's supposed ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that's been circulating among Trump's allies for months now.
Only Martin Aspen doesn't exist, and neither does Typhoon Investigations, the "intelligence firm" that supposedly employs him. It took tech experts approximately eight seconds to figure out that the profile picture for this person was generated by AI, which is about as long as it will take any American to work out that whoever is drafting these tweets is not a native English speaker.
The "Martin Aspen" persona has only tweeted a few times, often in Chinese, and mainly criticizing China's policies on Uighurs, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Is it coincidence that Steve "Flood the Zone With Shit" Bannon, who was recently arrested on the yacht of a Chinese billionaire wanted for extradition by the Chinese government, has been swimming in the anti-CCP side of the pool with The Epoch Times and its Falun Gong fellow travelers? (Oh, hey, that was a Collins/Zadrozny joint, too!)
Maybe! And maybe not. But in any event, that's where our story picks up, with an economist named Stephen Balding, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government who published the piece on his own blog.
"I had really not wanted to do this but roughly 2 months ago I was handed a report about Biden activities in China the press has simply refused to cover. I want to strongly emphasize I did not write the report but I know who did," he told NBC at first.
After being confronted with proof that "Martin Aspen" was literal fake news, he admitted that "I authored small parts of the report and was involved in report preparation and review. As a researcher, and due to the understandable worry about foreign disinformation, it was paramount that the report document activity from acknowledged and public sources. Great care was taken to document, cite, and retain information so that acknowledged facts could be placed in the public domain."
Well, those are all words. But we're real glad to hear that Mr. Balding is worried about foreign disinformation.
"The primary author of the report, due to personal and professional risks, requires anonymity," Balding insisted.
And here's how this piece of LITERAL FAKE NEWS got laundered up through the conservative ecosystem.
Balding's blog was the primary driver of virality in conservative and conspiracy communities. The report itself was shared across Facebook and Twitter around 5,000 times, according to BuzzSumo, and more than 80 sites linked back to the blog, which was shared more than 25,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Hyperpartisan and conspiracy sites like ZeroHedge and WorldNetDaily led the pack.
After the promise of a big reveal one day earlier, the document was also posted on the extremist forum 8kun by Q, the anonymous account behind the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
On Twitter, the document was pushed by influencers in the QAnon community, as well as by Dinggang Wang, an anti-Chinese government YouTube personality who works for Guo Wengui, a billionaire who fled China amid accusations of bribery and other crimes. Republican Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, tweeted the document to his 2.3 million followers.
The claims themselves are standard disinformation fare — lots of official-sounding names and dates padded with breezy assertions of brazen lies as if they were well-known facts.
Who else works for Guo? Take it away, Mother Jones!
Much of [Steve] Bannon's work for Guo is related to media companies Guo has launched. A one-year contract between Guo and Bannon inked in 2018 reportedly paid the former Breitbart executive $1 million to introduce Guo's media company to "media personalities" and advise the company on "industry standards." Bannon is also listed as director of GTV Media, a media company launched in April by Guo.
Well, that sure is coincidental.
Here's a sample of Balding's fantastical extrapolation.
Most worrying is the financial leverage this gives the Chinese state over a direct member of the Biden family. Despite the widely reported $1-1.5 billion of investment the reality is likely much higher. A co-founder of the investment firm reports the total assets under management as $6.5 billion. While this number cannot be completely replicated, given that two deal alone were worth in excess of $1.6 billion this number is not unrealistic at all. A 2% annual fee on assets under management would generate $130 million annually. Add in the 20% fee on capital gains the firm would recognize and it is not difficult to see Hunter's stake being worth in excess of $50 million.
Leave aside the whole English-as-a-second-language vibe for the moment — we'll come back to that one. The $1.5 billion figure has already been widely debunked as bullshit from "Clinton Cash" author Peter Schweizer. At some point Hunter Biden and his partners may have had $1.5 billion as a fundraising goal, but there's no indication they ever got anything like that level of investment from China or anywhere else. The rest of Balding's numbers are just invented out of whole cloth. This is less a smoking gun than a bottle of shampoo left unscrewed in your suitcase, slowly leaking Pantene all over your clothes.
Or maybe it's more like a thumb drive that falls out of an envelope when you ship it cross country via UPS!
It's clear that hacked emails and photos from Hunter Biden's phone have been floating around the wingnuttosphere for over a year now. Timesays that someone offered them to Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine for $5 million last year, and Salonreports that Rudy himself passed on an offer for a similar cache this May, deeming the deal too sketchy.
When a blind computer repair guy finally surfaced the documents in a Delaware computer repair shop 3,000 miles away from Hunter Biden's home in Los Angeles this month, no mainstream media outlet would touch the story. And now that his Ukraine allegations have landed like a lead balloon, Roodles the Clown has been reduced to doing media hits hinting about a kiddie porn connection. Because no low is too low.
But if Rudy couldn't carry it across the finish line ... who could?
Well, Balding's post is dated October 22, when it was clear that Rudy's Ukraine-Biden gambit was going exactly nowhere. In it, Balding exhorted readers to forget about "the salacious revelations about laptop provenance" and concentrate instead on "the more mundane reality of influence and money of major United States political figures. Ill informed accusations of Russian hacking and disinformation face the documented reality of a major Chinese state financial partnership with the children of major political figures."
And indeed the wingers moved as one to throw China up against the wall and see if it would stick.
My father gave me an opportunity to work my way up in his company. Joe gave his son China.— Donald Trump Jr. (@Donald Trump Jr.) 1603374717.0
Well, one of the presidential candidates gave his child China all right. But sadly for Donald Trump Jr., he wasn't that child.
Trump's lapdog Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, was quick to shout that "Hunter Biden's" laptop was "not part of some Russian disinformation campaign." And maybe this time he was telling the truth. (First time's a charm!) Because the author of this Hunter Biden China dossier is clearly a proficient but non-native speaker of English. And the people flogging this shit the hardest are Bannon's anti-CCP buddies.
Want to watch Steve Bannon be interviewed by Rudy Giuliani about "China OWNS The BIDEN Crime Family?" LOL, no you do not!
Here, read this from Josh Rogin at the Washington Post instead:
Guo Wengui, a close ally of Stephen K. Bannon, has interjected himself and his "whistleblower movement" directly into the middle of the presidential election. His Chinese-language news website, GNews, has been publishing documents and videos purported to be from Hunter Biden's lost laptop. The substance of the material ranges from allegations of business ties with Chinese executives to lewd, personal content.
Pro-Trump websites are citing GNews to launder the information into English-language press. Banned from Twitter, Guo's followers have turned to other social media applications to disseminate the material. Guo claims to be an anti-CCP freedom fighter who is working to establish a "New Federal State of China."
That's a lot of coincidences for a Friday. So let's just close by noting that the exact same people who screamed that the Steele Dossier was FAKE NEWS, and Brett Kavanaugh's accusers were FAKE NEWS, just like all the women who accused Trump of sexual assault were FAKE NEWS, and Russian influence in the 2016 election was FAKE NEWS — those same people Jacob Wohl'd up their own LITERAL FAKE NEWS dossier about Hunter Biden and talked themselves into believing it was true. Demanded that social media platforms let it run riot on their platforms! And are currently excoriating actual news outlets for refusing to treat it as if it's real news.
FOUR MORE DAYS.
[NBC / Balding's World / WaPo]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.