Right-wing pundit, conspiracy theorist, and liar Dinesh D’Souza is releasing a new movie, 2000 Mules, based on false claims about the 2020 election. The movie was made in partnership with conservative media giant Salem Media Group and True the Vote, a Texas-based group that has been pushing conspiracy theories around election fraud and dodging claims of intimidating voters since at least 2012.
D’Souza and True the Vote have promoted the film by claiming it uncovers an army of unidentifiable operatives secretly packing ballot boxes in swing states during the 2020 election. They allege to have proved this activity through geolocation evidence that shows, as The Washington Post put it, “some people may have been near drop-box locations on a given day.” The movie also claims to show individuals dropping more than one ballot into ballot boxes, a common occurrence in 2020 as collecting and submitting multiple people’s ballots was legal in some form in all the states discussed in 2000 Mules.
The claims made in the trailer have been debunked by experts. The Washington Post explained how the geolocation data used by True the Vote has no way to be verified as geofencing data typically only pinpoint a person within approximately 30 feet. The Post article went on to suggest the group likely cherry-picked data based on its predetermined theory.
A fact check by the Associated Press also showed that True the Vote’s research was based on “faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location data, which is not precise enough to confirm that somebody deposited a ballot into a drop box, according to experts.” And beyond the questionable data in this instance, multiple reviews conducted in the past two years have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring during the 2020 election.
High-profile right-wing influencers and politicians have latched onto this farcical theory and have heavily promoted 2000 Mules through social media channels and on radio shows and podcasts. Former President Donald Trump released the movie’s trailer at his April 23 rally in Ohio and issued a statement praising D’Souza’s work and claiming the movie “proves the 2020 Election was Rigged and Stolen.”
Dinesh D’Souza is known for his books and movies, primarily based on conspiracy theories and falsehoods. He pleaded guilty to violating campaign laws in 2014 and was pardoned by Trump in 2018. He has previously released five right-wing conspiracy-based movies. The latest, Trump Card, was released in 2020 and included “racist dog whistles, low-production-value historical re-enactments, and interviews with a dizzying, dubious array of subjects,” according to the AV Club.
True the Vote was founded in 2009 by Catherine Engelbrecht, who won the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 for her work with the group. More recently, True the Vote was sued by a high-profile donor, who had donated $2.5 million to the group’s election fraud investigation, saying the group did not spend the money as it said it would. Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, who has falsely claimed to have evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election, have taken credit for the research behind the film and have presented their “findings” at a hearing by Wisconsin’s Campaigns and Elections Committee and in other public interviews.
D’Souza secured some right-wing pundits like former Trump adviser and current Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka, right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk, and talk show host Dennis Prager to appear in 2000 Mules. All three of them have shows hosted by Salem Media Group.
Here are some examples of right-wing media figures – including some of those who appear in the trailer – who have promoted the movie through their own channels:
- Charlie Kirk partnered with D’Souza to provide exclusive showings and had D’Souza on The Charlie Kirk Show to promote the movie.
- Sebastian Gorka aired the trailer during his show, The Gorka Reality Check, on Newsmax.
- Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who also appears in 2000 Mules and also has a show hosted by Salem Media Group, tweeted his support for D’Souza’s project by sharing WND’s article on the movie titled “Miranda Devine: 'The most compelling evidence' of 2020 vote fraud.”
- Miranda Devine wrote a column in the New York Post covering the movie and appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends where she pushed the false “mules” conspiracy theory and pointed to D’Souza’s movie as evidence.
- Right-wing site Breitbart published an article covering the release of the movie’s trailer. The piece was titled “Trump Reveals Trailer of Explosive ‘2000 Mules’ Ballot Harvesting Documentary at Ohio Rally.”
- The Gateway Pundit published an article promoting the release of the movie titled “Dinesh D’Souza Releases Movie Poster for ‘2000 Mules’ on 2020 Election Fraud — Premiere Dates Announced — May 2 thru May 7.” The site later suggested the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was timed to suppress D'Souza's film.
- Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield called D’Souza’s trailer a “bombshell” during the January 31 edition of his show Stinchfield.
- OAN has heavily promoted the film, and one host even claims to be traveling to Mar-a-Lago for its premiere.
- Buck Sexton invited D’Souza to promote the film on his show Hold the Line.
- QAnon-affiliated Matrixxx Groove Show had D’Souza on as a guest to promote the movie.
- Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne, who has heavy ties to QAnon shows and influencers, has promoted the film on his Telegram channel.
On April 30, D’Souza shared a video to his YouTube channel outlining the many ways people can watch 2000 Mules, including in over 300 theaters across the U.S. and a virtual premiere following which the movie will be hosted on a Rumble-owned site. D’Souza went on to claim:
We're releasing this movie in a very novel way because we're in an age of censorship and so the normal places that I put movies, which is you find them in Apple iTunes and Amazon Prime -- no, this movie is not going to be available in those ways.
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.