Repellent con man gets arrested!


What Tucker's viewers were told: Yesterday, an allegedly repellent con man got arrested in Florida on federal charges. 

At the start of this news report, the New York Times explains the nature of the charges:

HONG (1/28/21): A man who was known as a far-right Twitter troll was arrested on Wednesday and charged with spreading disinformation online that tricked Democratic voters in 2016 into trying to cast their ballots by phone instead of going to the polls.

Federal prosecutors accused Douglass Mackey, 31, of coordinating with co-conspirators to spread memes on Twitter falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton’s supporters could vote by sending a text message to a specific phone number.

The co-conspirators were not named in the complaint, but one of them was Anthime Gionet, a far-right media personality known as “Baked Alaska,” who was arrested after participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

As a result of the misinformation campaign, prosecutors said, at least 4,900 unique phone numbers texted the number in a futile effort to cast votes for Mrs. Clinton.

According to federal prosecutors, Mackie tricked thousands of people into thinking that they could vote by phone. In this way, thousands of people were apparently led to believe that they'd voted for Hillary Clinton when, in fact, they'd cast no vote at all.

Stating the obvious, it would be better if people didn't fall for scams of this type. That said, we have all kinds of consumer protection laws because people do fall for scams. 

(Example: In Meredith Willson's Music Man, the entire town of River City ends up believing in a bunch of magic trombones.)

We humans do fall for scams. We have many laws to punish the people who take advantage of this state of affairs, whether the scam involves the peddling of silly elixir remedies or the attempt to defraud targeted groups out of their right to vote.

According to the Times report, Mackey was working the voter fraud scam. (Attempts to fool people about how to vote are as old as time itself.) Also according to the Times, he's facing an unusual charge:

HONG: Mr. Mackey, who was released from custody on Wednesday on a $50,000 bond, faces an unusual charge: conspiracy to violate rights, which makes it illegal for people to conspire to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The case will test the novel use of federal civil rights laws as a tool to hold people accountable for misinformation campaigns intended to interfere with elections, a problem that has recently become an urgent priority for social media platforms and law enforcement officials to stop.

We don't know if Mackey is guilty of a well-formed charge, but he's charged with heinous behavior. We mention this because of something we saw on cable last night. 

We refer to the way Tucker Carlson began his Fox News program, Tucker Carlson Tonight. Carlson began by discussing Mackey's arrest. Rather, he began with a stunningly edited, halls-of-mirrors version of Mackey's arrest.

In Carlson's rendition, Mackey was described as "a 31-year-old conservative journalist in Florida." According to Carlson's overview, "It looks like this is the part of the revolution where they start throwing their political opponents in jail."

Long story short—Carlson began his show with a trip down a hall of mirrors.  We can't tell you whether Mackie is guilty of the conduct with which he's been charged, but viewers of Carlson's program have no earthly idea what the charges are.

We mention this second con for a reason:

In this morning's print editions, the New York Times includes a fascinating profile of  Ashley Klein, a 32-year-old Minnesota woman who believes a lot of things which almost surely aren't true. 

Ashley Klein is new to politics. It sounds like she's completely sincere, but here's where she gets her ideas and her "information:"

SEARCEY (1/28/21): [I]n 2019, Democrats began talking about impeaching Mr. Trump on charges that he had unlawfully solicited Ukrainian authorities to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. To [Klein], it sounded absurd.

Ms. Klein joined a Facebook group called The People Against Impeachment. Posts railed against the process, calling it “a political weapon” and insisting that a plan to impeach Mr. Trump had been in place even before he had reached the White House. Ms. Klein tuned into the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, the Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, and Newsmax, a conservative news network.

Ashley Klein believes the things she hears on Carlson's program. If she was watching Carlson last night, she was treated to an angry diatribe about Mackie's arrest—a diatribe which omitted and distorted all the basic facts about the crimes with which Mackie has been charged.

For almost twenty years, we've been saying this about that:

When people like Carlson misinform millions of people, their conduct should be treated as front-page news. We don't think we've ever seen the basic facts of a news event massacred in quite the way Carlson clowned with the facts last night.

In the next day or two, we hope to show you what Carlson said in more detail. That said, Fox News is like MSNBC—perhaps for fairly obvious reasons, it rarely publishes transcripts of the things its TV stars say. This makes it harder to comment on Fox News programs. 

The New York Times should report what Carlson said at the start of last night's show. As we've suggested for twenty years, the Times should perform this public service right there on its front page.

You can possibly watch the segment: You may be able to watch last night's Carlson program. 

Click here, then click on "Full Episodes." Try to proceed from there. 

The report on Mackey opened the show. When it comes to staging a scam, Mackey has nothing on Carlson!

(Where does such fraudulent programming come from? On all three of our "cable news" channels, the rewards are too damn high!)


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  2. "(Example: In Meredith Willson's Music Man, the entire town of River City ends up believing in a bunch of magic trombones.)"

    This is not what happens at all. The people are tricked into believing that Prof. Harold Hill is qualified to teach people how to play a musical instrument (not just trombones) using "the think method" which involves just imagining the sound of the music. He is saved in the end because they are able to play their instruments (something resembling the tune they were imagining).

    Somerby never lets the journalists he attacks get away with making glosses as far removed as this one is from the actual plot of the musical. Lazy. The whole point is that the con man falls for his own pitch and goes straight at the end. I doubt that is what Somerby means to be suggesting today about that con in Florida.

  3. "In this way, thousands of people were apparently led to believe that they'd voted for Hillary Clinton when, in fact, they'd cast no vote at all."

    You don't know that "they'd cast no vote at all", dear Bob.

    In reality, some, or most, or all of them could text, and go and vote. In fact, for all you know they could vote multiple times.

    Another thing you don't know, dear Bob, is that any of those thousands of people who texted were eligible and registered voters. For all you know, they could be children and/or non-citizens. Or convicts.

    Tsk. Why are you misinforming your readers, dear Bob?

    Or, have you been misinformed yourself, dear Bob? In that case, why don't you talk to Ms. Klein, and get informed?

    1. If you were to text (believing you had voted) and then go vote in person (believing you were voting again), you would be committing election fraud.

      This is the conservative idea that people routinely try to vote multiple times. There is no evidence that happens, and that's one reason why Trump's claims about voter fraud were found to have no factual basis.

      It is time for you, Mao, and other conservatives to stop spreading the lie that Trump's election was stolen.

    2. Mao, if the guy has been charged, there presumably will be a trial and the facts will come out. The government will have to produce evidence, and the defendant can try to defend against it. Other possibilities are that the charges will be dismissed - or he can plead guilty. TDH hasn't misinformed anyone, but maybe you have with insinuations based on speculation.

    3. Can you read, dear dembot? Or, replying with non-sequiturs is merely a tool of your trade?

    4. Yes I can read. No non-sequiturs. Apparently just over your head. Good one though with the "dembot" reference, especially a "dear" one.

  4. "We don't think we've ever seen the basic facts of a news event massacred in quite the way Carlson clowned with the facts last night."

    This is another Somerby lie. He says he has been watching Fox and this is all they ever do, every day, with every story they feature. Tucker Carlson says much worse things than this every night.

    Today Somerby pretends he was born yesterday. But who is the bad guy? Not Carlson but the newspapers who do not feature Carlson's bad reporting as front page news. As if conservatives wouldn't cry victim loudly were such reports to occur. Carlson is saying that prosecuting vote suppression as a crime is political repression. He will say the same about attempts to point out his lies. There is no law against what Carlson is doing. Everyone on the face of the earth knows what Fox is about -- that is the reason why its viewers watch it. Unless they start inciting violence, there is nothing any other newspaper can do about it, and it is not the responsibility of other papers to replace their own reporting with critiques of right-wing lies.

    This is like suggesting that the Democrats should have countered those robo-calls by themselves calling every registered Democratic voter and telling them not to believe the robo-calls about voting by text. Aside from the resource-costs involved, preventative not ameliorative effects seem a better idea. Prosecuting this guys in FL is a preventative measure.

    When Somerby refers to this man as a con artist instead of a political operative, he is minimizing, trivializing, and obscuring the conspiracy aspect of the crime committed. This is not what con artists do (what is the individual gain?), it is what Republicans do. They cheat and think themselves clever for doing so.

    When Somerby lists the ways that cons have been with us forever, he comes perilously close to blaming people for being conned while excusing the perpetrators of this vote theft as just another grifter practicing a minor offense (despite stealing 4900 minimum votes) because cons gotta con. No, this is interference in an election and if the voters in question were primarily black, then it is also a civil rights violation because those voters were targeted.

    Somerby should be outraged. An actual liberal would be. Somerby doesn't even notice that this is yet another way that Hillary's victory was stolen by Republican interference in what should have been a fair election.

    Instead, he pretends that the people should have known better than to believe in magical trombones. The way he dismisses these offenses is subtle, but his intent is clear. And he is working on the other side, telling us that we are getting conned because we never object to Tucker Carlson's content. What an ass Somerby is today.

    1. Spoken like a good agnostic.

    2. Some of us liked The Music Man (show and film) and hate to see it reduced to magic trombones.

  5. And here comes the false equivalency:

    "When it comes to staging a scam, Mackey has nothing on Carlson!

    (Where does such fraudulent programming come from? On all three of our "cable news" channels, the rewards are too damn high!)"

    The propaganda on Fox, especially Tucker Carlson, is nothing like what occurs on CNN and MSNBC, even on Rachel Maddow's worst night. Lumping these three together as if they were all equally bad is highly misleading, perhaps as misleading as Tucker Carlson himself.

    Somerby watches Maddow and others on MSNBC and dislikes the slant because he is a conservative now (assuming he was ever liberal). But that is not the same as leaving out the most material facts in order propagandize an audience, as they do routinely on Fox. Somerby no doubt knows that, so what game is HE playing?

  6. ‘According to Carlson's overview, "It looks like this is the part of the revolution where they start throwing their political opponents in jail."’

    Gee, that’s odd. Where have I heard that before?

    Oh yeah. That is precisely what Somerby accuses liberals/progressives/Democrats of doing, almost every day.

  7. "QAnon-loving Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2018 posted a bizarre conspiracy theory on her Facebook page involving then-California Gov. Jerry Brown using a giant space laser to deliberately start wildfires."

  8. I looked for Tucker's clip on YT and found this

    Tried Bob's link and got a strange error message. My server is not authorized? Do I have to have cable TV or something?

  9. What can you say when he's right he's right.

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