The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Dominion Voting Systems Files $1.3B Lawsuit Against MyPillow Guy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Like many things about the Trump era and its lingering remnants, the news that a voting machine maker is suing a pillow executive for $1.3 billion sounds faintly ridiculous—but is part of a very serious effort to undermine democracy. The big lie, pushed by Donald Trump for months, is that the election was stolen, that President Biden won only through theft. The specific lie involved in this lawsuit is that voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems deleted votes for Trump or double-counted votes for Biden or were manipulated by foreign governments.

But the specific lie matters—in the world at large, not just to Dominion—because of the power of the big lie. Trump spent months pushing the claim that the election was stolen, delegitimizing Biden's presidency, and polls show that large majorities of Republicans—65 percent in one poll, 76 percent in another—believe there was widespread fraud or that Biden's win was not legitimate. And in this, as in so many things, Trump continues to lead the institutional Republican Party. On Sunday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise went on ABC's This Week and repeatedly insisted that Biden's win was related to there being "a few states that did not follow their state laws."

That right there is all the evidence you need that Trump has made the effort to undermine U.S. democracy mainstream in the Republican Party.

Dominion's lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, which also names MyPillow, relates to a less establishment-friendly form of the big lie, but it's all part of the same effort, and Lindell wasn't pushing his Dominion claims alone. This lawsuit follows similar ones by Dominion against Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and voting company Smartmatic similarly sued Giuliani, Powell, Fox News, and some Fox hosts for $2.7 billion.

In the lawsuit, Dominion alleges that "Acting in concert with allies and media outlets that were determined to curry favor with one of their biggest sponsors and to promote a false preconceived narrative about the 2020 election, Lindell launched a defamatory marketing campaign about Dominion that reached millions of people and caused enormous harm to Dominion."

As for those media outlets, Lindell paid to air his lies about the election and Dominion in a two-hour documentary that ran on One America News. OAN offered an extensive disclaimer about how the documentary was just Lindell's opinion, "not the product of OAN's reporting." But it also promoted the show as "a never-before-seen report breaking down election fraud evidence & showing how the unprecedented level of voter fraud was committed in the 2020 Presidential Election." The video was subsequently pulled from YouTube for violating the platform's presidential election integrity policy.

OAN, one of Trump's current favorite media outlets since he turned against Fox News, has been the target of a defamation suit by a Dominion executive and, following cease and desist letters from Dominion itself, quietly removed a bunch of election-related conspiracy theory coverage from its website in January.

So this is very much not just a voting machine maker suing a pillow maker. Lindell, as absurd as it may seem, is part of a much bigger effort to overturn or at least throw doubt on the results of a presidential election, an effort that started with someone who, as absurd as it may seem, was then the sitting president of the United States. It was pushed in its extreme forms by the latter's lawyers, including a once-respected former mayor of New York City, and widely aired on more than one right-wing television news network. The big lie led directly to a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol aimed at stopping Congress from certifying the election results. The lie continues, in a slightly watered-down form, to be spread by one of the top Republicans in the House of Representatives on a major network's flagship Sunday news talk show. The veneer of absurdity does not make this any less serious.

MyPillow Guy Is Kingpin Of Disinformation On Election and Virus

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A new video from MyPillow CEO and Trump supporter Mike Lindell that's filled with election falsehoods is spreading on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, even though each platform has a policy prohibiting this kind of misinformation.

Lindell has been a leading voice in promoting dangerous conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election (and bankrolling the proliferation of this lie) across right-wing media and social media.

Twitter permanently suspended Lindell for peddling election misinformation. Lindell then attempted to use his corporate MyPillow account to evade Twitter's ban; that account was also permanently suspended.

Lindell's Facebook and Instagram accounts are both active and full of election and COVID-19 misinformation. In fact, Lindell has access to multiple accounts for himself and his company. On Facebook, he has a personal account, a professional page, and a MyPillow corporate page. On Instagram, he has a verified personal account and a MyPillow account.

Even though former President Donald Trump's multiple attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election failed in courts, over 70% of likely Republican voters question the election results. Meanwhile, his supporters continue to push baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Lindell is one of Trump's most vocal supporters to promote unsubstantiated election fraud claims and conspiracy theories, and he recently released a film that The New York Times called a "disinfomercial." In the video, titled "Absolute Proof," Lindell spent over two hours falsely claiming that Trump won the election, making wild allegations of fraud that have no basis in reality, and railing against "cancel culture."

Following the release of Lindell's video on February 5, YouTube and Vimeo removed copies for violating each platform's election integrity policies, but additional versions of the film are still being uploaded to YouTube. Facebook and Twitter have both labeled posts sharing the film as misinformation and reduced its distribution, with Facebook confirming that the "video has been rated false by one of Facebook's third-party fact-checkers so it's been labeled and its distribution is being reduced." But Media Matters has still found active posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that have no label, and TikTok has not taken any action against posts with the video, even though the platform claimed on February 3 that it was taking new steps to crack down on misinformation.

Since before the election, social media platforms have claimed that they are trying to stop the spread of election misinformation, but these platforms have failed to adequately implement or consistently enforce related policies. For example, Facebook took minimal action against election misinformation from Trump and his allies on its platforms, allowing users to organize and promote"Stop the Steal" events, such as the January 6 rally that led to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Media Matters and others have documented similar failures of other platforms, such as Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.

The limited actions of social media platforms has allowed Lindell's conspiracy-laden video to spread across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.

Facebook and Instagram

Election misinformation policy: We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.

"Absolute Proof" is the latest example of Facebook being incapable or unwilling to consistently enforce its policies. Facebook confirmed that the video violates its policy and has labeled Lindell's posts linking to the film on both Facebook and Instagram as containing false information. But Media Matters has found Facebook and Instagram posts that are not labeled, including posts with links to versions of the video hosted on other websites and alternative platforms, such as Gab and Rumble. These posts are also circulating within private Facebook groups, which have been moredifficult for Facebook to moderate and for researchers and journalists trying to hold Facebook accountable to track.

Notable examples of Instagram posts with Lindell's film include:

Twitter

Election misinformation policy: We will label or remove false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election or other civic process. This includes but is not limited to: disputed claims that could undermine faith in the process itself, such as unverified information about election rigging, ballot tampering, vote tallying, or certification of election results.

Versions of Lindell's film are also spreading on Twitter. The platform labeled an OAN tweet promoting "Absolute Proof" with a disclaimer: "This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can't be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence."

However, this standard of policy enforcement is not consistently applied to all clips of the video. The Twitter hashtag "#AbsoluteProof" displays tweets containing links to the full-length film, as well as unlabeled video clips.

Right Side Broadcasting Network also tweeted a link to the full film multiple times, but Twitter has not applied a label or restrictions on them.

TikTok

Election misinformation policy: Our Community Guidelines prohibit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the larger public, including content that misleads people about elections or other civic processes, content distributed by disinformation campaigns, and health misinformation.

Even though it violates TikTok's election misinformation policy, "Absolute Proof" is swiftly spreading on the platform. The "Absolute Proof" hashtag on TikTok already has nearly half a million views, and all of the top videos promote Lindell's video.

Some TikTok creators are directing users to external websites to view the film in its entirety while others are uploading it in sections.

"Look what I got. … Apparently they've been taking down this documentary, so I figured I'd snag it," said one user. "I'll post some goodies that I find. And yeah, take that, big tech." This video has over 190,000 views and the account has over 57,000 followers.

YouTube

Election misinformation policy: Don't post content on YouTube if it fits any of the descriptions noted below.
Presidential Election Integrity: Content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of any past U.S. presidential election (Note: this applies to elections in the United States only). For the U.S. 2020 presidential election, this applies to content uploaded on or after December 9, 2020.

YouTube removed Lindell's video for violating its policies, but at the time of publication, there are many additional uploads still on YouTube. An advanced Google search for YouTube videos using the phrase "watch absolute proof" uploaded between February 5 and February 8 returned over 270 results.

There also appears to be a coordinated YouTube spam campaign centered around the Lindell film. All of the top results featured a series of screenshots from the film with overlaid text instructing users to click the "link" below to watch. The text slightly varied with each video, but the format and messaging appear uniform. These videos each have thousands of views.

How Consumers Pushed Corporate America To Defend Democracy

The board of Goya Foods has just forbidden its CEO, Robert Unanue, from talking to the media without first obtaining board permission. Do you know how extraordinary that is? Well, these are extraordinary times.

A month after the deadly attack on the Capitol, Unanue has continued to spread the false claim that prompted it — that former President Donald Trump was denied a second term because of voter fraud. He told Fox Business that Joe Biden's election was "unverified" and that there was a "war coming." That was the last straw for the Goya board.

Business decisions obviously play a part in companies' decision to risk losing some customers in defense of the democracy. They are exposing themselves to the type of political controversy they habitually avoid.

No executive has tied himself more tightly, by the ankles and wrists, to Trumpian conspiracy theories than Mike Lindell, founder and head of MyPillow. And that has made his brand toxic to many consumers. Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, H-E-B and Wayfair are among the retail giants to drop the MyPillow line. For many shoppers traumatized by the insurrection, just seeing that brand on the way to the shower curtains reawakens their disgust.

Twitter cut off Lindell as well, not only his personal account but also the MyPillow account. Dominion Voting Systems has already sued Trump ally Rudy Giuliani for knowingly spreading lies that its machines produced fraudulent results and is now threatening to go after Lindell for defamation, big time. Legal scholars say Dominion's case is strong and MyPillow could have its clock cleaned.

On the finance side, Shopify has taken down Trump's online stores. Stripe, PayPal and Square have stopped helping Trump World process payments. Deutsche Bank, Trump's one remaining major banker, says it's now through with him.

The PGA, meanwhile, has refused to hold its championship tournament at Trump's New Jersey golf club. When golf drops Trump, you know he's being dropped — and that the fear of losing customers as a result is less than fear of being associated with him.

The timeline at Goya offers a case in point. Last July, when Unanue campaigned with Trump, many Latinos and some anti-Trump groups called for a boycott of the Hispanic-owned food company's products. Trump supporters responded with a "buy-cott," urging their ranks to buy Goya products.

Who won? Sales driven by COVID-fueled demand for canned goods were hot early on. After July, though, Goya sales growth withered. And the board has discussed replacing Unanue, an anonymous source told CNN.

Unanue is not being "censored," as some news reports put it. Nor is Lindell a victim of cancel culture, as he insists. Both are free to mouth off, just as their customers are free to bypass a product they associate with appalling behavior.

To be clear on the issues involved, I never cared whether Unanue or Lindell liked or voted for Trump. But their tying the prestige of their companies to the Trump campaign made buying their products feel like a kind of Trump endorsement.

Let's end with the case of Mark Hastings, CEO of BarProducts.com. Hastings foolishly posted pictures of himself in front of the Capitol during the riots — and wearing a Trump hat, no less. An instant social media campaign was launched to boycott his products.

As a bar manager at the Graduate Hotel in Seattle wrote on Facebook, "This is a person I've given money to and in some way, I feel a little responsible for funding him to be there."

Americans are putting their consumer dollars on the side of democracy. Most of corporate America seems to have noticed.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

WATCH: MyPillow Guy Visits Newsmax To Talk ‘Cancel Culture’ — And Gets His Lies Canceled

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Looks like Mike Lindell is at the end of his bedsheet.

Newsmax—which not that long ago would have eagerly touted a conspiracy theory about a race of Jewish-funded reptilian overlords stealing the election from Donald Trump (assuming the network could have somehow dug up a stock photo of George Soros posing with an iguana)—is now apparently scared shitless about potentially being sued by Dominion Election Systems. As well it should be.

Yesterday the network invited MyPillow guy Mike Lindell on air to talk about cancel culture, but we didn't get to hear much of what he had to say about that because anchor Bob Sellers spent most of the segment loudly reading cover-your-ass disclaimers over Lindell's conspiratorial blather.

After Lindell claimed he had "100 percent proof" that the election was stolen by Dominion election machines, Sellers shut him down … but Lindell just kept talking.

It was HIIII-larious:

Watch:

After Sellers reads a detailed disclaimer noting that Newsmax has been unable to verify any of Lindell's claims about Dominion Voting Systems allegedly stealing the election, Lindell claims Twitter shut him down because he's "revealing all the evidence on Friday of all the election fraud with these machines."

At that point, Sellers begs his producers to "get out of here, please."

And then, because I hadn't laughed quite hard enough yet to literally piss myself, Sellers gets up and FUCKING LEAVES!

I'm thinking now might be a great time to start a new politics podcast, because I can almost guarantee you'd be able to book Mike Lindell. And I doubt there'd be any time limit. You could call it MyPodcast and make him your first guest—and then just sit back and watch the fireworks fizzle!

And as long as you have $1.3 billion burning a hole in your back pocket, well, it should all go swimmingly, now shouldn't it?