To know Pillow Man is to laugh at Pillow Man—or it is if you’re a member in good standing of the sane community, anyway. If not, you may be willing to follow Mike Lindell down every rabbit hole he’s managed to slither through with the help of a spelunker’s headlamp and a Costco-sized tub of Crisco.
Lindell is about what you’d get if Harry Carey had switched from Budweiser to bath salts late in life. He’s a big, barrel-chested, dough-stuffed mound of wrong, and yet he somehow keeps on truckin’.
To be sure, while the correct response to Lindell is derisive laughter, what he’s doing isn’t necessarily all that funny. Several attempts to debunk Lindell’s whatever-it-is have so far focused on his inability to come up with a coherent narrative … or sentence … or thought. But in a sweeping report that aired on Aug. 5 on Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN really dug in and put the lie to Lindell’s febrile delusions.
This gets weird—and Lindell gets more than a little defensive here—but the key takeaway is that CNN consulted real cyber and election experts rather than the cabal of apparent scammers Lindell has hired to interpret his pustulant pile of nothing.
Reporter Drew Griffin took the supposed packet capture evidence that Lindell has touted as the linchpin of his effort to put Donald Trump back in the White House and left it in a sad, viscous puddle on the floor.
GRIFFIN (VOICEOVER, starting at 1:16): “When Lindell released his so-called evidence, in videos like this, fact-checkers quickly found out it was evidence of nothing. These images are just publicly available voter data scrolling across the screen, not proof of election hacking. So Lindell changed his story, saying now the real evidence will be revealed at a cyber symposium, streamed live, with MyPillow discounts available throughout. And as further proof, he sent CNN a preview: six different screen shots.”
GRIFFIN: “You sent us this on Friday. What is this?”
LINDELL: “That’s just one piece of 1.2 billion lines of data from the election. Within that will be timestamps of when it happened, there’ll be flips in there.”
GRIFFIN: “So we sent this to our own expert, and he said it doesn’t show any specific actions of any kind, election-related or not, and it’s proof of nothing.”
LINDELL: “Okay, so he said that’s nothing, huh? Well, he’s wrong. Then you didn’t hire a cyber expert.”
GRIFFIN (VOICEOVER): “We didn’t consult just one cyber expert, we consulted nine top election-security experts who told us Lindell’s screen shots were ‘extremely rudimentary metadata’ and ‘completely ridiculous.’”
Oh, but that wasn’t all. When Griffin contacted 15 officials from 15 counties where Lindell says votes were switched by Chinese hackers, they all said there was absolutely no evidence of hacking. “We couldn’t find a single person that said this is even possible,” Griffin told Lindell. “They say you are mistaken, they think you’re wrong. The bottom line is they have paper ballot backups.”
At that point, Lindell got just a wee bit defensive: “So you guys went and they let you audit there? They let you do a full audit, CNN? You did a full audit on 15 counties, huh?”
Of course, ignoring for now that paper ballot backups and subsequent recounts long ago put the lie to Trump’s and Lindell’s voter fraud claims, Lindell also fails to explain away the prima-facie impossibility of hacking a voting machine that’s not hooked up to the internet. But, hey, why get in the way of a fun story?
Later in the segment, when Griffin said he was worried that Lindell may be the victim of a scam, Lindell turned sarcastic, citing the $5 million prize he’s put up for anyone who can debunk his evidence: “Well, then why don’t you come to the symposium and make $5 million? Are you worried about me? We should give a hug. You’re worried about ol’ Mike? Oh, God bless you!”
It was as mad and flustered as I’ve ever seen Lindell, and frankly, it was a bit jarring—almost like watching the genial Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man suddenly go on a murderous rampage.
In a sane world where facts and evidence still mattered, Lindell would have slunk away from the interview, canceled his cyber symposium scheduled for Aug. 10-12, laid his foam-stuffed head on his foam-stuffed pillow, and gotten some much-needed rest. But he won’t do that. Because he’s Mike Lindell, and Jesus told him Donald Trump was the rightful president.
My prediction? Lindell’s cyber symposium—which for me will be like celebrating Christmas four months early—will reveal a whole lot more nothing to add to the nothing pile Lindell already has locked in storage. But Lindell will not be deterred. No matter how many cyber experts debunk Lindell’s claims, they’ll all somehow be “exposed” as the “wrong experts.” And this fantasy will continue for years to come.
And while that’s great for our side (the more true-believer Republicans who think there’s no use in voting, the better, right?), Lindell’s gooble-gobble, which has likely convinced millions of fellow travelers that Trump will be reinstated before the year is out, is nevertheless corrosive to our democracy. And it gives juice to virulently anti-democratic forces such as, well, our previous pr*sident.
Luckily, for once a major news outlet has produced the receipts—and they show Lindell to be utterly bankrupt.
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