MyPillow CEO and staunch Donald Trump supporter Mike Lindell, who had been promising for weeks to drop “evidence” backing unfounded claims of election fraud and vote tampering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, found the effort undermined Friday as the channel on which his quasidocumentary aired took pre-emptive steps to avoid appearing to vouch for its credibility.
Lindell’s three-hour movie, “Absolute Proof,” which he put together over the past two weeks and had claimed would show “100 percent” that China and other countries manipulated votes in President Joe Biden’s favor — there is zero evidence to support such claims, and Biden beat incumbent Trump by more than 7 million votes, 4½ percentage points and 74 votes in the Electoral College — premiered Friday on the right-wing One American News Network, or OAN.
Much to the amusement of many on Twitter TWTR, +0.48%, OAN aired a lengthy disclaimer ahead of “Absolute Proof” advising viewers that “the statements and claims expressed in this program are presented at this time as opinions only and are not intended to be taken or interpreted by the viewer as established facts.”
Early reviews of the footage have noted there is no actual proof provided, only more of the same conspiracy theories and misinformation that Lindell has trafficked in for weeks. Indeed, several viewers shared screenshots of YouTube removing the Lindell movie for violating its terms of service, although some pro-Lindell users of the Alphabet-owned GOOGL, +1.71% GOOG, +1.73% video service have continued to upload “Absolute Proof” to the platform. Alphabet was not immediately available for comment, but a spokesperson reportedly told Vice that the video “violated our presidential election integrity policy.”
“ ‘The statements and claims expressed in this program are presented at this time as opinions only and are not intended to be taken or interpreted by the viewer as established facts.’ ”
The juxtaposition of the “opinions only” disclaimer followed by the “Absolute Proof” title screen tickled many a funnybone on Twitter, leading “Absolute Proof” to trend on Friday afternoon.
Another popular joke was suggesting that the opinions expressed in the video were fueled by Absolut Vodka (which is generally 80 to 100 proof, for what it’s worth) rather than hard facts.
Some critics also warned that this is really more “absolute proof” that Dominion Voting Systems has a case in its pending defamation suit against Lindell. The company has warned that litigation is “imminent,” accusing Lindell in a legal letter of being a “prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign” claiming that the voting technology company’s machines were rigged to favor Biden.
Earlier this week, voting-machine company Smartmatic sued former Trump legal representatives Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as Fox News and its hosts, in a $2.7 billion libel case that accuses them of spreading similar election-fraud claims about the company.
OAN was careful to name both voting-technology companies in its “Absolute Proof” disclaimer. “OAN does not adopt or endorse any statements or opinions in this program regarding the following entities or people,” it said, before listing the voting tech companies.
OAN isn’t the only right-wing cable news network distancing itself from Lindell’s conspiracy theories to avoid similar suits.
The Trump-aligned media outlet Newsmax TV asked Lindell about his Twitter suspension on the air on Tuesday. Lindell instead started reciting unfounded election-fraud conspiracy theories, leading anchor Bob Sellers to read a statement noting that Newsmax has not been able to verify allegations about the voting machines. The channel had first read such a statement on the air a month and a half ago, after Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems threatened legal action against a number of right-wing media outlets for airing false claims. Sellers then cut the interview short by walking off the set.
But pro-Lindell viewers were so outraged by Sellers’s having stormed off that the anchor walked back some of his frustration on the air in a subsequent segment, calling Lindell a “friend” of the network, admitting that he could have “handled the end of the interview differently.”
MyPillow advertises heavily on right-leaning media and, according to one data analysis, was responsible for nearly 40% of all advertising spending on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s evening program in the early months of 2020.