Pizzagate: Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal - 2017-11-16
All the same, two days after Hagmann's appearance on InfoWars, Erik Prince, the brother of Trump's secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, "confirmed" that the terrible rumor was true in an interview on Breitbart. Prince is best known as the founder of the private military company Blackwater USA, whose mercenaries shot and killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007. He donated $250,000 to the Trump campaign and became an informal adviser on intelligence and security issues, traveling to the Seychelles during the transition to meet with a Kremlin associate in an attempt to create back-channel communications between Moscow and the president-elect. On Breitbart radio, Prince painted a picture sure to stir the far right. "Because of Weinergate and the sexting scandal, the NYPD started investigating," he said. "They found a lot of other really damning criminal information, including money-laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than 20 times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times."
The right-wing-media system went into overdrive. Prince's story was picked up and embellished by other right-wing outlets, and made its way back to InfoWars that afternoon. Citing Prince's interview, Jones fumed, "When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped . . . yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children." Jones' video was viewed on YouTube more than 427,000 times. Prince's interview was shared another 81,000 times. On Twitter, the numbers were increasing exponentially- – 300 percent in just six days.
Long before October 28th, 2016, when Comey wrote to Congress that the FBI would be reexamining Clinton's use of a private e-mail server, her campaign knew they had a huge e-mail problem. In focus groups, voters conflated the case with the e-mails Russian operatives had hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Podesta, her campaign manager. Though U.S. intelligence agencies now agree that a Kremlin–associated group, Fancy Bear, hacked the e-mails – which WikiLeaks began posting less than an hour after The Washington Post published Trump's "grab them by the pussy" video – a senior Clinton campaign staffer tells me, "There was just more voyeuristic interest in the content of the e-mails than in how they were obtained."