Joseph Hippolito, A disturbing glance at the powers-that-be. In a matter of just five days, two separate incidents demonstrated the collusion used by the powers-that-be to control thought.
On Feb. 5, Mike Lindell, who founded MyPillow, released a two-hour documentary, “Absolute Proof,” providing detailed evidence of fraud during the Presidential election. On Feb. 10, the House of Representatives’ impeachment managers showed a video of the bedlam at the Capitol on Jan. 6, bedlam they accused President Donald Trump of inciting.
Once Lindell released his documentary, Google and Wikipedia attempted to manipulate his search results and biography, respectively. Two days after the impeachment managers released their video, David Schoen, one of Trump’s defense attorneys demonstrated how the video deliberately misrepresented his client. Trump’s trial ended the next day in acquittal.
Both cases show the determination of Big Government, Big Tech and Big Media — at the very least — to promote narratives that advance their unified interests and agendas. In the process, those three entities — along with Big Business, Big Academia, Big Whatever — will try to destroy anyone who opposes those narratives.
As FrontPage Magazine reported in “People of the Lie,” organizations ranging from businesses to foreign governments to federal agencies to charitable foundations use “astroturf” to influence opinion. “Astroturf” provides the illusion of a grassroots campaign while hiding its artificial nature. The strategy involves creating various kinds of written and video content — including blogs, social media accounts, video channels, online comments, letters to the editor — often through third parties.
“Special interests have unlimited time and money to figure out new ways to spin us while cloaking their role,” said Sharyl Attkisson, who won five Emmy Awards for CBS News. “Surreptitious astroturf methods are now more important to those interests than traditional lobbying of Congress. There’s an entire industry built around it in Washington.
“The whole point of astroturf is to try to give the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion by making you feel as if you’re an outlier when you’re not.”
One way special interests manipulate opinion is through “fact checkers.” As the Columbia Journalism Review’s Tim Schwab reported, PolitiFact and USA Today used their “fact checkers” to defend Bill Gates “from ‘false conspiracy theories’ and ‘misinformation,’ like the idea that the foundation has financial investments in companies developing Covid vaccines and therapies,” he wrote.
But Gates’ own tax records reveal such investments. Moreover, PolitiFact’s and USA Today’s parent organizations — the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively — receive money from Gates’ foundation.
Schwab’s reporting reveals a second technique: derision and defamation.
“Hallmarks of astroturf include use of inflammatory language, such as ‘crank,’ ‘quack,’ ‘nutty,’ ‘lies,’ ‘paranoid,’ ‘pseudo’ and ‘conspiracy,’ ” Attkisson said. “Use of the charged language tests well. People hear something’s a myth, maybe they find it on Snopes and they instantly declare themselves too smart to fall for it.”
Lindell’s updated Wikipedia biography provides numerous examples. In discussing his efforts to reveal election fraud, Wikipedia claims “Lindell promoted a conspiracy theory, popular with Trump supporters, that falsely claimed that voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion conspired with foreign powers to rig voting machines to steal the election from Trump.”
In addition, “Lindell was among those who advanced the false conspiracy theory that people associated with Antifa were responsible for the attack, saying they had probably ‘dressed as Trump people,’” Wikipedia claims. But as FrontPage Magazine reported in “Capturing the False Flag,” the evidence favors Lindell’s opinion.
Wikipedia also claimed Twitter “banned Lindell for perpetuating the unfounded claim that Trump won the 2020 election,” and that his documentary was “filled with false claims about the election.”
Lindell asserted Wikipedia even maligned his character to the point where his Christian foundation to help drug addicts is losing support.
“They’ve called employees and friends that I’ve had for 15, 20 years,” Lindell said. “In churches, people are hesitant. What kind of person is he, really? Is this really for us? It’s damaging, very damaging.”
“They can put up anything they want. They’re their own boss. They’re a monster.”
Google, meanwhile, directly attacked Lindell’s ability to make money. On the day Lindell released “Absolute Proof,” Google inserted “all these crazy stories,” he said, to bury his website in the search algorithm. The search engine also raised the price every time he clicked on his name from 5 cents to $1, he said, until Google prevented him from clicking on his name.
“After taking $20,000 of my money, Google said, ‘You don’t get to buy this anymore,’ ” Lindell said. “They shut it off. That’s unheard of for your own name, It’s an anti-trust law violation, for sure.”
Trump and his supporters know the politics of personal destruction well. The Establishment ridicules them as “traitors” and “domestic terrorists,” yet lauds agitators from Antifa and Black Lives Matter as “peaceful protestors” whose anger justifies their violence. The Establishment branded protestors who breached Capitol security Jan. 6 as treasonous to link them to Trump, whom the House’s impeachment managers accused of inciting insurrection.
But when Schoen spoke Feb. 12, he used the managers’ own video against them. Trump’s lawyers took parts of that video, which contained shots of the Capitol chaos and edited versions of Trump’s comments that day, and compared it to Trump’s complete remarks in their full context.
“Words matter, they told you, but they selectively edited the President’s words over and over again,” Schoen said. “They manipulated video, time-shifting clips and made it appear the President’s words were playing to a crowd when they weren’t.”
More importantly, Schoen showed how impeachment managers altered tweets to make them say what the managers wanted them to say. A photo in the New York Times showed Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead manager, examining two tweets. In one, Trump retweeted a statement expressing support. In the other, that supporter thanked Trump and reiterated her support.
But the timestamp on both tweets showed “2020,” not “2021.” Worse, the supporter’s account in the photo showed a blue checkmark indicating verification — which does not appear in the original account.
“The hatred that the House managers and others on the Left have for President Trump has driven them to skip the basic elements of due process, and fairness, and to rush an impeachment through the House, claiming, ‘urgency,’ ” Schoen said. “But the House waited to deliver the articles to the Senate for almost two weeks, only after Democrats had secured control over the Senate.”
That hatred also motivates Big Media and Big Tech to indulge in “fake news,” as Trump calls it. Though he made the term popular, “liberals were first to heavily promote use of the phrase referring to conservative disinformation and right-wing websites,” Attkisson said.
In September 2016, a non-profit group, First Draft, announced “a partnership to tackle malicious hoaxes and fake news reports,” Attkisson said. “The goal was supposedly to separate wheat from chaff, to prevent unproven conspiracy talk from figuring prominently in internet searches.”
As Lindell and many others know, the powers-that-be determine what “chaff” is. Facts and proof just get in their way.
So, who created First Draft? Google, through its parent company, Alphabet, whose executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, ranked among former President Barack Obama’s major donors. In 2016, Schmidt “devoted himself,” Attkisson said, to helping Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“His company funded First Draft around the start of the election cycle,” Attkisson said. “Not surprisingly, Hillary was soon to jump aboard the anti-fake news train. Her surrogate, David Brock of Media Matters, privately told donors he was the one who convinced Facebook to join the effort.”
For information consumers, the lesson is clear.
“Be aware when interests attack an issue by controversializing or attacking the people, personalities, and organizations surrounding it rather than addressing the facts,” Attkisson said. “Most of all, astroturfers tend to reserve all of their public skepticism for those exposing wrongdoing rather than the wrongdoers.
“In other words, instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority.”
While questioning those who question authority — risking potentially devastating lawsuits in the process — colluding interests from disparate fields inadvertently pose a powerful question:
What if the “conspiracy” is real?