Hundreds of Republicans that still believe that, contrary to any and all evidence, Donald Trump actually won the 2020 elections and only didn’t get a second term in office due to mass voter fraud congregated together on the Corn Palace in South Dakota on Monday to see the World’s Biggest Corn Cob. By which we mean, a sweaty guy with a mustache yelling about voting machines and who kept on telling them to log onto his friend Frank.
The Corn Palace is a big arena slash tourist trap that is themed around corn. Usually, the biggest corn cobs on display there are statues with cartoon faces on them, accompanied by lots of other regular-sized corn cobs for theming. MyPillow co-founder and attempted coup leader Mike Lindell spoke there on Monday to continue spreading a hoax theory that the Chinese government, or other nefarious foreigners, worked in concert with U.S. election tech firms such as Dominion Voting Systems to subvert the outcome of the 2020 vote. He was also there to promote the supposed re-launch of his failed social media website, Frank Speech, which almost entirely consists of Lindell livestreams and ads for pillow coupons. He claimed 30,000 would be in attendance.
Well, Lindell fans reportedly came from as far afield as Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin—Texas being a 15-hour drive or so—and formed lines that stretched around the building, with some reportedly waiting seven hours or more to get into an event they had been assured would be packed to capacity.
After all that waiting, it turns out the line was a crock of shit. There weren’t more than about 1,500 people inside, about half of the total that can fit in the Corn Palace. Anyone could have waltzed right in. And, as mentioned before, the only giant corn cob on display was Mike.
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This corn-themed hellhole show went on for the next three and a half hours. The Dickinson Press summed it up as largely consisting of Lindell reiterating debunked claims he’s repeated endlessly on air, as well as predicting that regular citizens would successfully petition the Supreme Court to return Trump to the presidency by the end of the summer:
Lindell spoke for nearly 90 minutes, serving as the crescendo for the crowd in attendance after seeing a number of conservative personalities for the prior two hours… He says his evidence shows that China corrupted election machines and changed the voting results in the election, denying Donald Trump from winning by 14 million votes. Lindell’s goal, he said, is for regular citizens to put significant pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the evidence. He said if that happens, Trump will be back in office as president by August.
“They will have to protect our country and it’s going to be a 9-0 vote to pull the election down,” Lindell said, adding that “evil is overplaying its hand” in politics in this country.
Lindell, who told the crowd that he doesn’t know anything about cybersecurity or informational technology, said he has kept his name in the news since November to help spread his claims about the election being fraudulent.
Frank Speech’s original rollout in April was plagued with crashes and glitches, which Lindell and his partners blamed on DDOS attacks, rather than obvious technical ineptitude and the apparent lack of any social features. Despite the event on Monday being billed as a relaunch, the only content on the Frank Speech website appears to be livestreams of Lindell and other conspiracy theorists talking, reposted news articles, and podcast episodes. The signup screen returned an error stating “The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.” The signup attempt later succeeded, though there appears to be no difference in functionality beyond the ability to log in and log out and the collection of personal information during the signup process—possibly for the purpose of selling it to political committees. Despite the website requiring users to input a phone number for the ostensible purpose of anti-spam verification, Frank Speech happily accepted the phone number “1-111-111-1111”.
Anyone displeased with the festivities at the Corn Palace won’t be getting a refund for their ticket, as it was a free event. Perhaps they could sue, but something tells us Lindell would love that.
Many weird and wild things are coming out of Mike Lindell’s 48-hour bananathon livestream today—Ted Nugent, a crank call from a “reporter,” another crank call from “Donald Trump”—and somehow, I, too, was there. After a press request this morning to MyPillow, which has ignored my emails on two previous occasions, my phone rang.
“Are you okay with being live on the air?” Mike Lindell asked me. “Twenty-six million people?”
Gotta respect the game. For context, this broadcast is ongoing on the homepage of Lindell’s borked social media platform Frank, which was supposed to launch last week, and this weekend, and again today. After disgruntling followers with days of silence, Lindell struck back with a gripping tale of a foreign cybersecurity attack(!!!), the biggest of all time ever in the world. Somehow the livestream has been functioning smoothly, for tens of millions, so parts of it are theoretically working. While we still don’t know exactly what Frank will look like when it does come to fruition, the platform is supposed to be a “mix of YouTube and Twitter,” multi-billion dollar platforms that took over a decade to build and still don’t function as their overlords would like to claim.
Lindell regaled this morning’s captive audience of potential Frank users with the news that My Pillow is suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion—retaliation for Dominion’s $1.3 billion defamation suit against MyPillow and Lindell for the latter’s multitudinous unsubstantiated speculation about a wide-ranging Deep State conspiracy that involved Dominion’s voting machines robbing Donald Trump of the presidency.
Elected officials and cybersecurity experts have almost unilaterally rejected Lindell and Trump’s nonsense on the basis that it has no basis. The Washington Post found that, as of December 20th, at least 86 Democrat and Republican judges (including at least one open Trump supporter) had rejected Trump’s post-election lawsuits. The Supreme Court, which includes three Trump appointees, tossed aside a suit brought by the state of Texas asking to throw out election results in key states. As Dominion points out in its lawsuit, a wide swath of bipartisan officials have refuted Lindell’s conspiracy theories, including Trump appointees attorney general Bill Barr and Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity head Chris Krebs. Fifty-nine election security experts jointly condemned bunk fraud claims, agreeing that none had seen any credible evidence of a “technical compromise.” Numerous top government election overseers also rejected fraud claims, noting that voting equipment was tested and certified by state and federal bodies.
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In numerous interviews, Lindell had confused who owned Dominion Voting Systems and said that Dominion’s “algorithms” had failed despite additional hand counts of paper ballots.
Lindell didn’t shed further light on where he’s getting his intel or the nature of today’s supposed cybersecurity attack (just that it’s from “overseas”). He did repeatedly tell me that as a journalist I “should know” about this stuff and he used the opportunity to promote his forthcoming movie (a sequel to the “documentary” that he released in February). He did say what he would do if someone was going around making up unsubstantiated nonsense about his pillows. “You could put this in your article,” he said. “If everybody out there was saying MyPillow is full of rocks and knives, I wouldn’t sue them. I would go, hey, guys, look inside my pillow. It’s beautiful patented felt.”
It’s a line that he’s been repeating throughout the day, so I pressed the issue. How would Mike Lindell disprove un-dis-provable widespread fraudulent allegations about a single pillow, were someone to make them repeatedly on air?
Gizmodo: To compare this to Dominion, would you provide that person with every single pillow? Like, how can you disprove that one pillow did not arrive at someone’s house with rocks or knives inside?
Lindell: Are you for real?
Gizmodo: I’m curious. I mean, if you’re looking for—
Lindell: This is the common sense that has been lost in our country. I’ve sold over 50 million MyPillows. I’m just saying, if all of the sudden—actually [Alan Dershowitz, attorney retained by MyPillow] said, if all of the sudden people are out there saying there’s stuff in his pillows, I would show them in my factory and say, look at this. Or I would say, bring them in. You know what, bring in your pillow and show the news desk. Dominion won’t show one machine.
So, you know, I would say, okay, if you’ve got a rock and a knife in your pillow, show the world. They won’t even show this. So there’s the difference. I would not only show my manufacturer, I would say, I would want to show every pillow I could in the world. Everybody, open up your pillows. If Dominion didn’t have any corruptness to hide with the biggest cyber crime, part of it with China, in the history of the world—this is a crime against humanity. Dominion should say, hey, you know what? Smartmatic, all of them, they’re all tied together. We’re going to show that you open up every machine. Let’s go in there and show this to the world once and for all.
So, he wouldn’t sue. Food for thought, I suppose.
Dominion legal counsel Stephen Shackelford told Gizmodo today, in a statement, that My Pillow’s “meritless retaliatory lawsuit” was filed with the goal of trying “to distract from the harm it caused to Dominion.”
Anyways, Mike Lindell’s social media platform will allegedly be available to collect your personal data at some point in the future.
Americans had prepared today (and also last week) for MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to unleash his nebulous avant-garde invention, Frank: a social media platform billed as a cross between YouTube and Twitter with elements of newspapers and television, except with free speech. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see the nexus realized.
Frank is currently down for an indeterminate length of time, but Lindell is offering an alternative spectacle. The homepage of FrankSpeech.com currently hosts the “Frankathon,” a 48-hour Lindell-hosted livestream broadcast set in a sort of news studio. He has a mug. The event opened today in full meltdown conspiracy mode.
“It was the biggest attack on a website, probably in history,” Lindell said of the failed launch. While Lindell has not yet specified exactly who attacked his website and how, the theory seems to be evolving live, with increasing certainty that this was the biggest cyberattack of all time. (A bucket of clues include attackers from “all over the world,” “Zuckabuck from Facebook,” and the inability to talk about “vaccines and machines.”) At this writing, Lindell says that 15 million viewers have tuned in.
We’ve reached out to My Pillow for comment and will update when we hear back.
Lindell’s headline news, though, is the announcement that My Pillow is counter-suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion for defamation, which he has framed as a defense of free speech. Court records show the lawsuit, which claims violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
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The sum is slightly higher than the $1.3 billion in damages Dominion is currently seeking from Lindell in its own defamation suit, targeting Lindell’s wild fabrications that the company conspired with Democrats to steal the election from Donald Trump. (The site showed a looping video of Lindell’s claims, which I won’t repeat here. Dominion has also sued Fox News for allowing Lindell to make such claims without challenging their veracity.) Lindell has enlisted a legal A-team including prominent First Amendment attorney Nathan Lewin and Alan Derschowitz, primarily known for advising on the O.J. Simpson trial and defending Harvey Weinstein. (Both, the Daily Beast has noted, are longtime registered Democrats.) In a motion to dismiss, My Pillow’s attorneys argue that Dominion has engaged in “lawfare,” using the suits to “restrict the marketplace of ideas to one viewpoint.”
Dominion has argued that Lindell’s “viewpoint” (read: hysterical accusations) has caused them irreparable harm and led to an onslaught of violent threats against employees.
Dershowitz, appearing on the Frankathon this morning via video, made a crystal clear point to distance himself from certain harmful misinformation that would likely be welcome on Lindell’s platform. Unprompted, he said, of free speech:
I defend the right of bigots and ignoramuses to say the Holocaust didn’t occur. It’s wrong, it’s foolish, it’s bigoted, it’s insulting. It affects my family. But I think they’re right to say it. If you want to say the Earth is flat, say the Earth is flat. The geologists will come and prove you wrong, historians will be wrong about the Holocaust.
Lindell also said:
“…It would be like if My Pillow was out there, and all these people were saying there’s rocks and knives in my pillows. And I would just say what I would do as the owner. I would say, ‘hey, everybody, look… there’s no rocks or knives.’”
Dershowitz does plan to uncover the truth behind Dominion’s election conduct in discovery, in which he’ll demand access to Dominion’s machines and source code, in case completely unsubstantiated social media-sourced conspiracy theories prove to be true.
You can watch unfolding events here. Steve Bannon and Diamond and Silk are on the docket. And you can view the lawsuit below.
In less surprising news, the studio also confirmed that legendary composer John Williams would return to score the movie. “Steven [Spielberg], Harrison, Kathy [Kennedy], Frank [Marshall], and John are all artistic heroes of mine,” the film’s director, Logan’s James Mangold (replacing Spielberg, who stepped away from directing the film early last year), said in a provided statement. “When you add Phoebe, a dazzling actor, brilliant creative voice and the chemistry she will undoubtedly bring to our set, I can’t help but feel as lucky as Indiana Jones himself.”
Indiana Jones 5is currently set to hit theaters July 29, 2022. No word yet on who Waller-Bridge will play in the adventure film but we’ll bring you more as we know it.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.
HellfeedHellfeedHellfeed is your bimonthly resource for news on the current heading of the social media garbage barge.
We’re jumping the gun on Hellfeed’s normally bi-weekly schedule—because dear lord, the last five days were something else. This week’s social media hellscape kicked off with news Donald Trump is investigating opening his own, presumably even more racist social media platform (uh-huh) before drunkenly veering everywhere to a beleaguered mega-ship clogging the bowels of shipping to Mark Zuckerberg’s vaccination to Amazon tweeting about peeing in bottles to the Shrimp Guy getting Milkshake Ducked (something that I swear will make more sense if you scroll down the page).
This is Hellfeed: Emergency Edition.
The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter went before the House Energy and Commerce Committee for precisely the kind of bipartisan struggle session they’ve faced at multiple prior hearings. While Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, and Mark Zuckerberg absolutely deserve to be dragged by whatever means possible, the hearings are quickly becoming a ritualistic washing of hands in which the assembled members of Congress yell at unpopular tech CEOs instead of actually passing any legislation to address their pet concerns (misinformation and hate speech for Dems, why a grainy .bmp file of Donald Trump giving a thumbs up doesn’t appear at the top of every webpage for Republicans).
Zuckerberg explained that misinformation about the climate isn’t as harmful as misinformation about the coronavirus, which conveniently explains why Facebook doesn’t do anything about it.
Representative Peter Welch asked the three CEOs whether they would support the creation of a Federal Trade Commission-like agency to regulate social media sites; Zuckerberg, who has been a major beneficiary of the FTC’s half-hearted approach to regulation, enthusiastically responded that could be “very effective and positive.”
More generally, the CEOs agreed that there needs to be some type of regulation of social media—though possibly just to placate Congress into summoning them to fewer hearings, and they were generally vague on what kind of regulations they would actually support beyond mandating greater transparency and accepting more liability for user-generated content.
Confronted on the issue of whether they would ban a dozen anti-vaxxers who bear wildly disproportionate responsibility for hoaxes, misinformation, and conspiracy theories circulating about vaccines on their sites, all three CEOs waffled.
In an extremely uncomfortable moment starting at 2:35:15 in this YouTube stream, Representative Billy Long asked each of the CEOs whether or not they understood the difference between “yes” and “no” before asking them if they had been vaccinated against the coronavirus yet. Pichai was the only one who said yes.
The assembled CEOs generally evaded addressing or defending their actual business models, which is prioritizing user growth and engagement and thus revenue over just about anything else.
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Amazon is now tweeting about whether or not its employees piss in bottles
Everyone’s favorite robber-baron empire has had a lot of fun online this week trying to “own” critics and failing miserably in the process. This all started when Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, practiced his tight five for the Comedy Store by tweeting a fun little jab: he often says “we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”
This could be charitably described as misreading the room. The heckling escalated rapidly when Representative Mark Pocan pointed out the well-documented trend of Amazon warehouse workers being pressed so hard they have to urinate (and sometimes poop) in bottles, which the official Amazon News account condescendingly responded to with “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
This is more than a little like some cartoon banker dressed like Mr. Monopoly yelling, “You don’t really believe the locking the shirtwaist factory stairwells thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” over the sound of a fire alarm.
Amazon workers and drivers on numerous occasions have confirmed they sometimes have to pee and poop in things that are not toilets to hit company quotas, something the company is quite aware of. As a result of their pathetic little attempt at a clapback, the Google News results for “Amazon pee in bottles” now looks like this (and goes on and on like this):
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the only person in history to be fined $20 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission, sent a tweet at 4:18 a.m. on Friday stating “I think there is a >0% chance Tesla could become the biggest company.” He perhaps had that settlement on his mind when he deleted a subsequent tweet saying that could happen “Probably within a few months.”
Per the Washington Post, Musk mashing that delete button caused a minor panic among Tesla stockholders:
Musk boasted early Friday to his nearly 50 million Twitter followers that his company could be “the biggest” in a few months. It came less than a day after the National Labor Review Board upheld a 2019 ruling that determined Tesla engaged in unfair labor practices and called on the company to have Musk delete a tweet from 2018.
Tesla shares were hovering near $608 shortly before 2 p.m. EDT, after an otherwise uneventful morning session. The company’s market cap tumbled to $586.7 billion, losing more than $26 billion over the span of four hours.
As the Post noted, this is just one day after the National Labor Relations Board ordered Tesla to have Musk delete this 2018 tweet threatening labor organizers, which Musk has not done.
You live by the post, you cringe die by the post.
Shrimp guy gets milkshake ducked in record time
Social media was briefly delighted by the tale of a man named Jeremy Karp, who tweeted a complaint to the Cinnamon Toast Crunch account asking it to explain why cinnamon-encrusted shrimp tails had ended up in his bag of cereal. After his initial tweet went viral, Karp spent days tweeting many, many more times about the incident.
Unfortunately for Karp, the attention also drew a massive amount of attention to his backstory. That began with fun revelations, such as that he is married to Danielle Fishel, who played Topanga in Boy Meets World, and was once an unsuccessful rapper named “Hot Karl”. It ended with considerably more disturbing ones, as several women on Twitter accused Karp of being a serial manipulator and emotional abuser and disrespectful to Black colleagues. (Podcaster Melissa Stutten wrote he was a “manipulative gaslighting narcissistic ex-boyfriend who once told me he was surprised I hadn’t killed myself because my life was so worthless,” while writer and former Karp colleague Brittani Nichols wrote he had inserted racist lines into the scripts of TBS rap battle show Drop the Mic.)
In other words, he got Milkshake Ducked in record time:
One could call this a cautionary tale, but the moral isn’t ‘never tweet’ so much as don’t be like this guy.
Ship. Ship. Ship.
Everyone is living vicariously through the big ship that’s blocking the Suez Canal (and a massive percentage of world shipping) and has exhibited no signs it intends to get moving anytime soon. It’s possibly the first relatable news event in years! Anyhow, here’s a bunch of tweets about it.
We regret to inform you the
The entire Earth is now being converted into a giant block of computronium that will be worth approximately $42.50 after a “market correction,” as evidenced by the fact that the “Cash Me Outside” meme girl Danielle Bregoli—who is somehow now the rapper Bhad Bhabie—is getting in on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are essentially a complicated, blockchain-powered way of turning massive amountsof electricity into digital trading cards that in some cases are selling for millions of dollars, despite the fact they will likely be worth absolutely nothing in just a few months or years.
Anyhow, Bhad Bhabie is selling 20 NFTs, per HypeBeast, which writes that the sale includes “original works based on the biggest meme of 2017 and focusing on its dominance, her rise to fame, the success of her music and meme culture.” That includes the chance to own the “Cash Me Outside” meme:
The first group of NFTs will be released on March 26, Bregoli’s 18th birthday, via Opensea, then on March 29 via Rarible and March 31 via Zora. The collab between Bhad Bhabie and Flue Block Arts will also include a mega package on Opensea that includes ownership of the “Cash Me Outside” meme transferred from the artist to the buyer, one NFT of each of the visual works, a personalized video of the transfer sale from Bregoli to the buyer that will be posted on both her Instagram and YouTube and a 16-bar verse feature from Bhad Bhabie.
If nothing else, you have to respect Ja Rule’s deep commitment to scams.
Frank. It’s just called Frank
MyPillow goblin Mike Lindell, who is currently being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems for promoting hoaxes and conspiracy theories claiming it helped steal the 2020 elections for Joe Biden, is launching a social media site. Allegedly. No one really knows whether it exists or is just another Lindell fantasy. It’s possible there is a small army of coders locked in the basement of the MyPillow factory, who knows.
There’s only one solution: Donald Trump and Mike Lindell must fight to the death. Possibly in a gladiatorial format, maybe jousting, could also be a cage match, or perhaps an old-timey duel? What’s important is that two old men of dubious lucidity enter, one old man leaves—as the tech bro CEO of a startup social media firm that possibly exists entirely within their heads. But watch out, Mr. Trump. Lindell looks like a biter.