The New York Times on Saturday reported that a fake Joe Biden campaign website that is “full of obvious disinformation” is being run by an operative on President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Patrick Mauldin, who makes videos and digital content for President Trump’s campaign, told the Times that the site he created, JoeBiden.info, is intended to help Democrats “face facts” about the former vice president.
He told the newspaper that he did not put his name on the website because “people tend to dismiss things that they don’t like, especially if it comes from the opposite side.”
The “parody” campaign website features out-of-context quotes from leading 2020 Democratic candidate and also includes GIFs of him touching women in ways that others alleged made them uncomfortable.
“Uncle Joe is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America’s problems,” the site’s header mockingly reads. “Joe Biden has a good feel for the American people and knows exactly what they really want deep down.”
Newsweek notes that along with his brother, “Mauldin runs Vici Media Group, a Republican consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. Mauldin acknowledged to the paper his role in creating the website, which he has used to spread disparaging and sometimes misleading content about Biden.”
Mauldin told the Times that he built and paid for the website himself and that it is not related to the campaign, although the campaign knows about it.
Biden campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said it is “great that talented supporters of Trump use their time to help his re-election.”
“We appreciate their efforts in their own time with parodies like this that help the cause,” he told the Times.
Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo told the newspaper that it was aware of the site, but not who was behind it.
“Imagine our surprise that a site full of obvious disinformation,” he said, “is the handiwork of an operative tied to the Trump campaign,” he said.
Mauldin has also set up other parody sites of the Warren, Sanders and Harris campaigns, the newspaper reported.
Despite its unintended status as a campaign hub, Mauldin’s site has performed remarkably well. The Times reported that his parody site garnered nearly 400,000 unique visitors over a two-and-a-half month period this year, compared with just over 300,000 for Biden’s official campaign site.
According to the web analytics website SEMrush, the keyword “biden 2020” returns JoeBiden.info as its second-ranking web search result. Biden’s campaign ad at the top of a Google search appears to be the only way the fake site has been outflanked, at least as it concerns certain search terms.