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In poker, it's called a "tell"—some inadvertent gesture or expression that is generally a sign that whatever comes next is a lie.

Donald Trump has many tells, but one of his biggest is a phrase he uses whenever he's about to spread a particularly nasty rumor or malicious conspiracy theory without having any evidence to back it up: "Many people are saying." It's a line that conjures the impression of an invisible consensus, while still giving Trump the latitude to weasel out of any responsibility when whatever declaration comes next is proven to be bogus.

Most recently, he used the phrase to share—without evidence—the theory that an Iranian nuclear scientist had been executed for espionage due to Hillary Clinton's email leaks.

For Donald Trump, "many people are saying," and variations thereof, has been one of the most reliable arrows in his rhetorical quiver for years—an "IRL Retweet" that he's used to question President Obama's citizenship, bolster his anti-Mexican racism, and even justify his campaign for President. Also, to sell his junky products.


After his Monday night allegation, though, the hashtag #ManyPeopleAreSaying went viral, with people using the candidate's own words against him to demonstrate how Trump's favorite rhetorical contortion can be used to insinuate, well, just about anything:


#ManyPeopleAreSaying Donald Trump worships Chester the Cheetah, mascot for Cheetos.

— blue aardvark (@AardvarkBlue) August 9, 2016

#ManyPeopleAreSaying Donald Trump reads like a first grader.

— Circus Politics (@CircusPolitico) August 9, 2016


Some Trump supporters tried to get in on the action as well—to slightly less comedic effect:


Compounding the old phrase's newfound viral fame was the fact that it coincides with the recently popular bot-generated rumor that Donald Trump contributed to the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Of course, he did no such thing, but the hoax (which originated on reddit) exploits the latitude offered by Trump's phrasing, and has spread across the internet in much the same way the candidate's own overhead conspiracy theories often do.


Which is all to say that the next time you hear Donald Trump assert a rumor as fact, keep in mind that he's probably just selling you some bullshit.

At least, that's what many people are saying.