Comedian and prankster Sacha Baron Cohen came out with a new movie Friday containing a compromising scene of Trump’s personal attorney and top sycophant Rudy Giuliani reclining on a bed with his hands in his pants in front of a woman playing the 15-year-old daughter of Cohen’s character.
Photos of the compromising scene were released in advance of the movie last Wednesday, incensing far-right activists Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, who complained that the media was not paying enough attention to the highly suspect story they’ve been pushing about Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The pair—who peddled the debunked 2016 “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory accusing top Democrats of child-sex-trafficking—accused Twitter of bias for allowing the photos of Giuliani to remain on the site and called the photos “revenge porn.” Neither Cernovich nor Posobiec appeared to see any irony in their meltdown over the compromising Giuliani photos.
Cohen has made a career out of pranking conservative politicians, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. In “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Cohen returns to play Borat, a racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic character from Kazakhstan who must deliver his 15-year-old daughter to Vice President Mike Pence. After Borat fails to deliver his daughter to Pence at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, his daughter, played by 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova, becomes a conservative journalist and must deliver herself to Giuliani. Here’s The Guardian’s description of the scene:
In the film, released on Friday, the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat’s daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist.
Following an obsequious interview for a fake conservative news programme, the pair retreat at her suggestion for a drink to the bedroom of a hotel suite, which is rigged with concealed cameras.
After she removes his microphone, Giuliani, 76, can be seen lying back on the bed, fiddling with his untucked shirt and reaching into his trousers. They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”
Unsurprisingly, the images and discussion about what they mean for Rudy Giuliani, an incessant peddler of conspiracy theories, circulated over social media since their release last week.
Giuliani, who is known for making false claims about the Bidens, was a main source for the New York Post’s Oct. 15 story that claimed to have “smoking-gun” emails showing Hunter Biden was using his father’s position as vice president for his own gain and that Joe Biden was in on it as well. The emails were supposedly retrieved from a laptop obtained by Giuliani after it was dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop and never retrieved, and Giuliani supposedly learned about the existence of said emails from former Trump campaign manager and disinformation peddler Steve Bannon, who is currently under indictment for fraud.
As many journalists pointed out, the story by the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post was chock full of red flags, including that the emails were never verified, that Russian operatives had sought to feed Giuliani disinformation to use against the Bidens, and that neither Giuliani nor Bannon are trustworthy sources. Three men allied with the president had first tried to pitch the story to the Wall Street Journal before Giuliani’s explosive, tabloid claims and publication of the New York Post article. The Wall Street Journal’s eventual reporting on the matter stated, “Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden.”
Both Facebook and Twitter have limited distribution of the New York Post story due to the unsubstantiated claims to limit the spread of disinformation, and Twitter initially blocked users from sharing pictures of the unverified emails or links to the New York Post’s stories with the unsubstantiated claims.
Nonetheless, it has been heavily pushed on conservative media and in right-wing circles, with conservatives crying of censorship.
The day before the compromising photos of Giuliani were released, Giuliani told right-wing Newsmax TV that Hunter Biden had numerous pictures of “underage girls” on the laptop he claimed belonged to Hunter. Conspiracy theorists and radical commentators like Wayne Allen Root and Alex Jones, have gone all in accusing Hunter Biden of pedophilia, and Josh Bernstein went on to accuse Joe Biden of it as well.
Both Cernovich and Posobiec peddled the debunked “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which claimed that hacked emails sent by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager contained coded messages connecting several high-ranking Democratic Party officials to an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring at a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that Cernovich “made his career on trolling the liberal establishment by accusing people of pedophilia or child sex trafficking.”
The pair, normally in favor of accusing people of pedophilia, came rushing to defend Giuliani with gusto once the compromising footage was released.
Cernovich attacked Twitter for locking the New York Post out of its account for violating its hacked-materials policy. “The New York Post got locked out of its twitter account but Twitter is going to let everyone post revenge porn of Rudy Giuliani, a clear violation of New York law and also Twitter’s own terms of service,” he tweeted. About 20 minutes later, Posobiec tweeted, “Twitter is allowing a coordinated unlawful revenge porn campaign against Rudy Giuliani to flood their networks today.”
Claiming it met the statutory definition of revenge porn, Cernovich took to Periscope to ask, “Why is Twitter allows reveng porn re Rudy Giuliani?” Revenge porn is the nonconsensual publication and distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of an individual.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘You’re defending Rudy, blah, blah, blah.’ Some people are making assumptions about me,” Cernovich said, before going on to defend Giuliani, attack Cohen, and accuse the media of a disinformation campaign.
“Sacha Baron Cohen said she was 15,” Cernovich said, referring to the moment when Borat busts into the room in pink lingerie and asks Giuliani to take him and not his 15-year-old daughter. “So, I think Sacha Baron Cohen should be investigated immediately.”
“If you’re laying down because a woman put you on your back because you think you’re about to get a BJ, that you’re laying down on your back, because you’re about to get a BJ, and your hands are in your pants, is that an intimate encounter?” Cernovich asked. “That’s what I mean, you don’t have to be a constitutional lawyer to say, yeah. Clearly.”
Why is Twitter allows reveng porn re Rudy Giuliani? https://t.co/LtJ2691qVj
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 21, 2020
Posobiec agreed that the images were revenge porn, claiming, “I didn’t post the Hunter Biden revenge porn photos, because I know how the law works” and “Everyone posting the Rudy Giuliani Borat photo is in violation of revenge porn law.”
I didn't post the Hunter Biden revenge porn photos, because I know how the law works
Everyone posting the Rudy Giuliani Borat photo is in violation of revenge porn law
And @TwitterSupport is allowing unlawful dissemination
— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) October 21, 2020
But that narrative didn’t fly with Giuliani.
About three hours after the images were shared, Giuliani shared his own narrative, arguing that the video was a complete fabrication and that he was really just reclining on the bed to tuck in his shirt after asking for Borat’s daughter’s number. “This is an effort to blunt my relentless exposure of the criminality and depravity of Joe Biden and his entire family,” he tweeted in a thread, which Posobiec promptly retweeted, seemingly forgetting the revenge porn narrative he had just helped shape.
The entire left spread a massive election disinfo campaign against a Trump advisor today using a doctored video @Twitter promoted it
— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) October 21, 2020
On Friday, the day of the release of the new Borat movie, Posobiec took to Bannon’s “War Room Pandemic” to push the Hunter Biden conspiracy theory. While there, he asked whether Child Protective Services was ever called on Hunter Biden’s family, presumably in reference to Giuliani’s pedophilia charges.