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No, BLM Did Not Ask Rich White People Not to Send Their Kids to Ivy League Schools

Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it’s causing, and what we should do about it.

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When Casie Tomlin opened her mailbox on July 17 in the ultra-affluent enclave of Highland Park in Dallas on Saturday, July 17, she saw a FedEx envelope. Inside was a letter from an activist group called Dallas Justice Now.

The letter was not your typical missive from a social justice organization. Rather than calling for defunding the police or protesting racial discrimination, the letter called on “white liberals and allies of the Black Lives Matter movement to make sacrifices to open up opportunities for students of color,” by signing an online pledge not to send their children to Ivy League Schools. 

If they refused to sign, the letter warned, the group would publicly shame them by publishing their names on its website.

Tomlin’s neighbors in the staunchly Republican area also got the letter, and soon the local conservative Facebook group lit up with posts about how scary the letter was and how they couldn’t believe “the left” would do something like this.

The story spread to local right-wing media outlets, before being picked up by international media, with credulous reports in outlets like Canadian far-right website Post Millennial, British tabloid the Daily Mail, and Newsweek. On Wednesday night, the story was covered on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, America’s highest-rated cable news show.

“It’s the bigotry of no expectations,” Candace Owens, a conservative author, told Carlson. On Twitter, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, laid the blame on critical race theory.

But back in Highland Pack, Casie Tomlin smelled a rat.

“Straight away I knew that it was fake,” Tomlin told VICE News.

And she was right. Dallas Justice Now is not a real social justice organization, but appears to be a hoax campaign designed to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement. The group is linked to a right-wing PR company that works closely with the Republican Party.

But when Tomlin decided to speak out and question the veracity of the letter she received in the post, she was called a “racist Karen” and someone posted her personal details online.

But when she pointed out to her neighbors that the letter had been revealed to be a hoax, and that it was linked to a right-wing PR group, they didn’t believe her.

“The whole neighborhood is very, very well aware of [the reports of the campaign being a hoax] and we still have people that were messaging me and telling me: ‘No, this group is real because they have an African American on their website, so it’s real.’”

The text of the letter was also posted on PR Newswire, a site where you pay to publish press releases. The post contains the full pledge the group is asking people to make:

“As a white person with privilege both from my whiteness and my neighborhood I recognize the need to make sacrifices for the purpose of correcting hundreds of years of murder, slavery, discrimination, and lack of educational and economic opportunities perpetrated upon people of color. I understand that access to top schools is a key component in economic and social advancement. Therefore, I commit that my children will not apply to or attend any Ivy League School or US News & World Report Top 50 School so that position at that school is available for people of color to help correct historical wrongs. If I do not have children under 18 then I will commit to encouraging my white privileged friends, neighbors, and family members with children to sign the pledge and holding them accountable until they do so.”

The press release quotes someone named Michele Washington as a spokesperson for the group, but there is very little evidence that this person exists.

The only online reference to a person called Michele Washington living in the Dallas area was a Facebook profile created in October. The profile lacked a picture of the person or any other details about her life, beyond the fact she works for Dallas Justice Now.

The Facebook profile says Washington began working at the group in October 2020, even though the group’s website only came online in May 2021. Messages sent to Washington and several of her Facebook friends went unanswered. 

When VICE News flagged the profile and the Dallas Justice Now page to Facebook, company spokesman Andy Stone said the company was looking into it. Hours later, the Michele Washington profile page was removed from the site.

After Tomlin received the letter in the post she decided to do some research. She attempted to contact the group but was unsuccessful. Then, she made a donation of $1, and received a receipt from a completely different company called “Painted Praise.”

Tomlin then contacted the company facilitating donations on the Dallas Justice Now website and asked to be put in touch with someone from the group. Dallas Justice Now responded in an email by calling Tomlin a “white supremacist” and claiming she was harrassing them.

But it didn’t stop there. The group then posted on Facebook about Tomlin’s complaints, calling her a “racist Karen” and saying: “Girl, if you are going to come at us just take off your klan hood and call us the n-word.”

The group also posted personal information about Tomlin, including details about a five-year-old DUI conviction.

The group then published a new press release specifically about Tomlin, repeating their baseless claim that she was a “white supremacist.”

Despite the obviously fake nature of the letter and the initial press release, the story gained traction in a publication called the Dallas City Wire, which is owned by conservative businessman Brian Timpone.

Timpone operates a network of “content farms” which the New York Times has linked to a national pay-for-play network of websites seeking to take the place of dwindling local news outlets.

The Dallas City Wire article quoted Michele Washington, but when Tomlin contacted the reporter who wrote the story to see if she had actually spoken to someone at Dallas Justice Now, the reporter asked Tomlin if she was the police and then refused to answer any other questions.

Tomlin wasn’t the only one looking into Dallas Justice Now.

A group of researchers based in Dallas, also looked into the group’s website. It quickly found links to Keep Dallas Safe, a group the Dallas Observer reports is “an organization run by a confirmed astroturfer.”

Astroturfing is the practice of hiding the real creators of a campaign or organization to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.

Earlier this year, Keep Dallas Safe targeted candidates in the Dallas City Council election with false claims that they intended to defund the police.

Both Dallas Justice Now and the Keep Dallas Safe are linked to Arena, a PR firm that has worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Michigan Republican Party, and other right-wing politicians and campaigns. 

When asked about the link with Dallas Justice Now, Arena confirmed it had begun to work on the campaign but claimed it stopped once it realized what was happening.

“Arena did not and would never support an activity of this type. We were working with a client and when we learned what their objective was, the project was terminated. Unfortunately, it appears someone from the group copied the original code containing a link to the abandoned ‘under construction’ website, which linked to our server,” Clint Brown, Arena’s chief operating officer told VICe News in an emailed statement.

Brown did not respond to follow-up questions about how the alleged code copying happened and asking him to identify the client carrying out the campaign. However, a report in Dallas has uncovered links between Arena and numerous astroturfing campaigns in other states.

VICE News contacted Dallas Justice Now on Thursday to discuss the claims about its bogus origins, and hours later the group issued another press release, this time lashing out at the “unfounded reports” and “conspiracy theories” about the group, specifically mentioning the Dallas Observer report and once again targeting Tomlin.

The group did not respond to follow-up questions.

Despite the revelations that Tomlin and local media have made about who is really behind this group, Tomlin’s neighbors continue to believe the campaign is real, which is making Tomlin concerned about her own safety and the safety of her family.

“I’m definitely still worried,” Tomlin said. “I don’t know what [the people behind the campaign] are capable of doing. It’s definitely scary because I believe there are very powerful people behind this with a lot of money and if they’re willing to create a fake social justice group then they’re also willing to go through a lot more to get me to be quiet and stop talking.”

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Former Cardinal Allegedly Prayed as He Sexually Abused Teen Boy

Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick (C) greets Pope Francis (L) during Midday Prayer at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick (C) greets Pope Francis (L) during Midday Prayer at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jonathan Newton-Pool/Getty Images)

A former Catholic cardinal who was kicked out of the priesthood in 2019 is now facing charges for allegedly molesting a 16-year-old boy after a wedding in the 1970s.

On Wednesday, Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, DC, was charged in Massachusetts with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 years old, court records show. The charges stem from one June day in 1974, when McCarrick showed up at a wedding reception at Wellesley College, according to a criminal complaint filed in court and obtained by VICE News.

McCarrick was a family friend of the alleged victim, whose name was withheld in the complaint. The victim, who met with law enforcement over Zoom in January, said that McCarrick would go on trips with his family and perform holy rites for them at funerals, weddings, and baptisms. McCarrick was so close to the family that it felt like he’d been adopted into it.

McCarrick allegedly started sexually abusing the victim when he was a “young boy,” according to the complaint, in no less than four states.

On June 8, 1974, when the victim was 16, his brother got married. At the reception, McCarrick told the victim that his father wanted McCarrick to talk to the victim because he was “being mischievous at home and not attending church,” the complaint alleges.

As they walked around the Wellesley campus, McCarrick touched the teenager’s genitals, according to the complaint.

Afterward, McCarrick allegedly took the victim into a small room, where he told the victim that he “needed to go to confession.” McCarrick then fondled and kissed the victim’s penis, “saying prayers to make me feel holy,” according to the complaint.

McCarrick then allegedly told the victim to pull up his pants and directed him to say prayers “so God can redeem you of your sins.”

The abuse by McCarrick continued after this incident, the victim told law enforcement, including after the victim had become an adult.

Despite the avalanche of sex abuse accusations against Catholic priests, the charges make McCarrick the first cardinal to be charged with a sex crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, the victim’s attorney. The case is moving forward thanks to a technicality: At the time of the alleged assaults, McCarrick was not a resident of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reported. The statute of limitations paused when he left the state.

“It takes an enormous amount of courage for a sexual abuse victim to report having been sexually abused to investigators and proceed through the criminal process,” Garabedian told CNN.

“We look forward to addressing this case in the courtroom,” McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, told VICE News. McCarrick has previously denied wrongdoing in regards to past allegations.

McCarrick was defrocked, or laicized, in 2019, after the Vatican found him guilty of soliciting sex during confession as well as committing “sins” with both minors and adults; the Vatican noted that there was “the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.” But some members of the Catholic hierarchy reportedly knew about the allegations against McCarrick for years before they came to light, as the New York Times reported in 2018 that American bishops received multiple complaints about McCarrick’s behavior with adult seminarians. 

He’s believed to be the first cardinal to be laicized over sex abuse allegations.

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The King of Underground Punk vs. Europe’s Last Dictator

The government of Belarus shocked the world in May when it basically hijacked a Ryanair passenger flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania to arrest a 26-year-old opposition journalist and his girlfriend. It was the latest escalation in a crackdown led by strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, sparking massive criticism from the West and within his own country.

In this episode, we hear from Igor Bancer, the lead singer of the punk rock group Mister X, who despite imprisonment and an impending labor sentence, refuses to put down the mic and provides a window into life under “Europe’s last dictator.”

MORE: 

Western governments have reacted with fury after a Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk so Belarusian authorities could detain a 26-year-old journalist.

Russian passport-holders tracked a dissident blogger for days in Crete before he boarded a fateful flight home. 

“Nobody will escape” – Friends and colleagues of Roman Protasevich explain why they’re still in shock at how he was snatched from the skies by Belarus’ strongman president.

CREDITS: 

This episode was reported by Steph Brown. Special thanks to VICE News consulting producer Maya Tepler. 

VICE News Reports is produced by Jesse Alejandro Cottrell, Sophie Kazis (Kay-ziss), Jen Kinney, Janice Llamoca (Ya-Mo-Ka), Julia Nutter, and Sayre Quevedo. Our senior producers are Ashley Cleek and Adizah Eghan. Our associate producers are Sam Egan, and Adreanna Rodriguez. Sound Design and music composition by Steve Bone, Pran Bandi and Kyle Murdock. 

Our executive producer and VP of Vice Audio is Kate Osborn. Janet Lee is Senior Production Manager for VICE Audio. 

Fact-checking by Nicole Pasulka. Our theme music is by Steve Bone.

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Proud Boys Crashed School Board Meetings to Protest Critical Race Theory

Proud Boys showed up to the Nashua School Board meeting this week to protest anti-racist education. Photo by Shannon Burstein

Proud Boys showed up to the Nashua School Board meeting this week to protest anti-racist education. (Photo by Shannon Burstein)

Proud Boys are raising the temperature in Nashua, New Hampshire, by showing up to school board meetings in their black-and-yellow uniforms and with their faces covered to protest anti-racist education.

Their presence is a menacing addition to an already tense situation. Like many communities across the U.S., Nashua, New Hampshire’s second-largest city, has become a flashpoint for national culture war issues. Discussions over school mask mandates in the past grew so heated that police are now present at each meeting.

But it’s the latest moral panic du jour that’s attracting members of the far-right street-fighting gang: “critical race theory.” Critical race theory originally applied to a 40-year-old academic movement focused on deconstructing systemic racism. Of late, the term has been co-opted by the GOP and Fox, who’ve claimed that any discussion about race in classrooms is racist. As a result, this issue has roiled school board meetings across the country.  

Local activists posted photos of the group loitering by the school building holding flags, flashing their trademark “OK” sign (which has been co-opted by racists), and carrying signs saying things like “Marxism has no home here.” After a solitary Proud Boy showed up earlier this week and raised alarm bells, the local Black Lives Matter called on community members to rally at the next meeting. On Wednesday, about a dozen Proud Boys, joined by anti-maskers, showed up. 

School board members are not happy about this development. “I do find it concerning that we have Proud Boys showing up at our meetings,” school board member Jennifer Bishop told the Union Leader. While it’s not her intention to silence anyone, she added, her priority was ensuring that everyone in the community felt safe. “We have a community of minorities that we need to support,” she added. 

Proud Boys have latched onto the right-wing culture war over antiracist education.

Proud Boys have latched onto the right-wing culture war over antiracist education. Photo by Shannon Burstein

The Proud Boys are under intense scrutiny since many of its leaders have been charged with conspiracy for their alleged involvement in the violent insurrection at the Capitol. (The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, who was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then.)

Since January 6, members of the group have steered clear of large-scale rallies, and instead attempted to build grassroots support in their communities by latching onto hyper-local culture war dramas and ginning up tensions. They’ve forged ties with anti-vaxxers in Los Angeles, provided security to evangelicals outside a Planned Parenthood in Salem, Oregon, and joined Cuban protesters in Miami. Their attempt to insert themselves into the discussion over critical race theory in Nashua is just the latest example of this. 

Last September, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order instructing federal agencies to cancel any race sensitivity training programs that mentioned “white privilege” or “critical race theory,” calling it “divisive, un-American propaganda.” This year, conservatives have stepped up their attacks on critical race theory, accusing schools of instilling racism in children by teaching them about it. A discussion about critical race theory at a school board meeting in Loudoun, Virginia, actually descended into violence earlier this year, as unruly parents brawled, resulting in at least one injury and an arrest. Fox News host Tucker Carlson even suggested that teachers wear body cameras to ensure they don’t talk about racism in the classroom. 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who is a Republican, signed new restrictions into law earlier this year that prohibits teachers or other state employees from teaching that any group is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive. So far, more than 25 GOP-led states have passed or proposed restrictions on how teachers can talk about race. 

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter.

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Off-Duty SWAT Cop Reportedly Caught on Video Hurling Man into Lamp Pole

​Screenshots of bystander video showing a member of the Dallas Police Department shoving a man into a lamp pole.

Screenshots of bystander video showing a member of the Dallas Police Department shoving a man into a lamp pole.

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A Dallas cop was caught on video at a local bar shoving a man into a metal lamp pole and punching him repeatedly in the face while he was on the ground.  

The uniformed officer was off-duty and typically assigned to the SWAT team, according to local ABC affiliate WFAA-8.

The video, which has amassed more than 26,000 views across social media platforms like Youtube and Twitter, shows a chaotic scene in front of a business in Dallas’ Deep Ellum area. Four officers with the Dallas Police Department are seen trying to break up what appears to be about a dozen people fighting. At one point, the officer who’s reportedly an off-duty SWAT team member pulls away from the crowd and appears to assault a man in a white T-shirt before being stopped by two of his colleagues. 

The department has told VICE News that the unidentified officer has since been placed on administrative leave, and the department has launched administrative and criminal investigations. He already has two other pending use of force investigations against him, according to WFAA 8. 

At the start of the near minute and a half long video, people can be seen on the ground as others are throwing punches at each other. Three officers are on the scene, attempting to break up the brawl. As two of the officers check up on two individuals sitting on the ground, a man in a white T-shirt approaches the group from off screen. The third cop, who was reportedly off-duty, then tells the man to back up two before pushing him back.

“Get out of the street,” that officer says as the person recording gets in their car.

“Fuck you,” the man can be heard responding and the person filming rolls down their window.

The next few seconds of their interaction are obscured, but a crowd can be heard gasping. When the camera refocuses on the man in the white T-shirt, the officer reportedly off-duty is seen shoving the man into a nearby lamp pole. After the man crumples to the ground, the cop then stands over him and throws six punches to the man’s face. Two other officers run over to intervene, before restraining the man on the ground and placing him under arrest.

Dallas Police Department Chief Edgardo Garcia “commended those officers who recognized their duty to intervene in this incident and deescalate the situation,” according to a statement from the department. 

A spokesperson for the department told VICE News that information regarding what happened between the officer and the man as well as what caused the brawl in front of the bar is limited as the investigation is still active.

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An Anti-Mask Mob Hurled Racist Insults at a Public Health Official

​St. Louis County Council​

St. Louis County Council

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The acting director for the St. Louis County Department of Public Health was just doing his job: offering guidance during a county council meeting in which officials sought to rescind a new mask mandate.

His expert opinion, according to local media, was that it was a bad idea. 

“If the council, in its infinite wisdom, negates this public health order, there will be more misery,” Dr. Faisal Khan told officials Tuesday, noting the steady rise of the Delta variant, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There will be more infection. There will be more death.”

But, for the simple offense of providing this warning, Khan said he was confronted by a seemingly anti-mask, pro-MAGA crowd that assaulted, mocked, and berated him both inside and outside of council chambers. He was even called a “fat brown cunt” and “brown bastard,” according to a letter Khan wrote to Council Chair Rita Heard Days on Wednesday. 

What’s more, the county council voted 5-2 to end the mandate despite Khan’s advice, adding fuel to the raging dumpster fire that is America’s twin crisis: a persistent, deadly pandemic, and the constant politicization of the means to control it. For months now, public health officials like Khan have been under attack or subjected to threats by those who oppose masks and vaccines. Now, they’re resigning or retiring in droves. 

“I have worked to improve public health around the world, working in Australia, Vietnam, Pakistan, South Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the United States (West Virginia, Massachusetts and Missouri). I have been a proud citizen of the United States since 2013,” Khan said in his letter.

“In all that time and in all those places, I have never been subjected to the racist, xenophobic, and threatening behavior that greeted me in the County Council meeting last night,” he added. 

Fed up, Khan at one point flipped off a person who had attacked him with racial slurs during the fracas, he said. He’s not exactly keen on apologizing, either, he added in his letter, which pointed to one official in particular as an instigator: Republican Councilman Tim Fitch, who sponsored the resolution to stop mask requirements, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Political operatives — and even Mr. Fitch himself — have sought to use my instinctive reaction as political fodder against me,” Khan wrote. “I would like to think that I would not react like that because it risks creating a distraction from what should be a consensus around masking and vaccines.”

“I have to say, however, that when faced with the racist vitriol that Councilman Fitch has been privately and publicly stoking against me since my appointment, I cannot say I am sorry.”

Khan also called out Mark McCloskey—one half of the gun-toting duo that made international headlines for brandishing firearms at racial justice protesters last year—as one of his harassers. McCloskey, who is also running for a U.S. Senate seat, was seated behind Khan as he offered his testimony to the council, Khan said.

A spokesperson for McCloskey’s campaign denied any heckling in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Fitch, who Khan described as a friend to McCloskey, has slammed Khan’s letter, calling it a “desperate attempt at deflection and diversion” by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who has said the mask mandate is somehow still in place despite the council’s vote, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“We as elected officials cannot stand by and let the delta variant rack up more and more victims each and every day,” Page said of the mask mandate, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Masks will help slow the spread of the virus while we continue to vaccinate as many people as we can.”

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Top Texas Prosecutor Very Sorry He Called Simone Biles a ‘National Embarrassment’

USA's Simone Biles waits for the final results of the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)​

USA’s Simone Biles waits for the final results of the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

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A deputy attorney general from Simone Biles’ home state of Texas is apologizing after calling the Olympic gymnast a “selfish, childish, national embarrassment” in response to her pulling out of the team final in Tokyo earlier this week—a comment that earned him a public rebuke from his boss. 

Texas Deputy Attorney General of Legal Strategy Aaron Reitz made the comment in a now-deleted tweet posted Wednesday, in response to a video published by a conservative publisher comparing Biles with former U.S. Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug.

After an awkward landing during the team all-around final earlier this week, Biles withdrew from the competition and said she wasn’t “in the right headspace” to continue. She’s also withdrawn from Thursday’s individual all-around final, and it’s so far unclear whether she’ll take part next week in the four individual event finals she qualified for. 

Biles has received praise for starting a dialogue about mental health and the pressure on athletes, as well as understanding and listening to her own body. Though some conservatives have joined in on the criticism of Biles, the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton—Reitz’s boss—tweeted that Reitz’s comment was “very inappropriate and insensitive” and that the matter “would be handled internally.” (Paxton’s office did not immediately return a call from VICE News Thursday morning.) 

“I know Simone Biles—she is a fantastic athlete but an even better person,” said Paxton, who is best known for trying and failing to get the election overturned and Obamacare thrown out on a technicality. “Mental health is far more important than any athletic competition and I fully support her decision.”

Before the end of the day, Reitz had apologized. “In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed. That was an error,” Reitz tweeted, adding that Biles was a “true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time.”

Despite the outcry from the perpetually aggrieved wing of the Republican Party, Biles has received overwhelming support following her decision to bow out, including from Strug herself and other athletes.

“The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” Biles tweeted Wednesday.

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Stealing Arizona for Trump Is Costing Shadowy Groups Millions of Dollars

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather at a 'Stop the Steal' protest as President-elect Joe Biden is declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Ima

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather at a ‘Stop the Steal’ protest as President-elect Joe Biden is declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it’s causing, and what we should do about it.

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After months of confusion, wild conspiracy theories, and court battles to keep the funders of the bogus audit in Maricopa County private, some details have finally been revealed.

On Thursday morning, Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company with no prior election audit experience that is running the recount, issued a press release listing the donors who’ve collectively have coughed up a massive $5.7 million to fund this charade.

And in the least surprising news of 2021, it’s a laundry list of groups that have been maliciously pushing the Big Lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

The audit in Maricopa County was sanctioned by the Republican-controlled Arizona State Senate after QAnon-conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud were boosted by a network of pro-Trump groups. The Senate pledged $150,000 to pay for the audit, as well as covering the costs of renting the building where the audit was held, and 24-hour security for the ballots.

The audit has been mired in controversy from the beginning, with Cyber Ninjas using untested methods and indulging wild conspiracy theories. This led to the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County calling those in charge a bunch of “grifters and con artists.” 

One of the biggest questions critics had about the recount was where all the money was coming from, especially after the recount continued well beyond the proposed finish date and the Senate’s $150,000 was long gone. The Senate and Logan had been attempting to keep the details of the funding private, but earlier this month, a court in Arizona overruled those efforts and ordered that it to turn over documents related to the recount’s funding.

It appears that Logan’s press release is an attempt to get ahead of whatever revelations may be contained in those documents.

Topping the list of “Stop the Steal” groups is the America Project, a nonprofit run by Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com and one of the loudest voices boosting bogus conspiracy theories about election fraud.

The America Project donated more than half of the total raised ($3.25 million) and Byrne himself personally pledged  $1 million to the fundraising effort. The group, through its “Fund the Audit” website, solicited donations from the public to reach a goal of $2.8 million. Logan’s list does not break down who donated the rest of the group’s money.

Byrne also spent recent months funding the production of “The Deep Rig,” a supposed documentary about supposed election fraud, starring a who’s who of election fraud conspiracy theorists—including Logan himself.

Next on the donor list is the group America’s Future, which raised just shy of $1 million for the audit. The group, which describes itself as an organization that “recruits and cultivates young professionals to become effective, lifelong advocates who will inspire their peers to embrace freedom,” is chaired by disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, one of the biggest proponents of the Big Lie and a hero in the QAnon world.

Flynn recently said there was no reason a military coup couldn’t happen in the U.S. in response to the 2020 election, just as happened recently in Myanmar.

Another major donor was “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell’s nonprofit Defending the Republic, which donated $550,000. Powell, who is facing possible disbarment for her bogus election lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign.

While neither Trump nor the Trump campaign is listed among the donors, the links to the former president among those who are listed are extremely strong. Powell, Flynn, and Byrne all met with Trump in the Oval Office in December, when they reportedly pushed for him to effectively declare martial law and seize election equipment around the country.

There are two other groups listed among the audit donors.

The first is Voices and Votes, a nonprofit set up by One America News presenters Chanel Rion and Christina Bobb, who repeatedly boosted the funding effort on air while being given special access to the audit floor.

The other is the Election Integrity Funds for the American Republic, together with a sister group called the Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic. Both groups are linked to attorney Matthew DePerno, who was the attorney in a failed lawsuit alleging massive election fraud in Michigan’s Antrim County.

DePerno, together with the OAN-sponsored group and Byrne’s America Project, also “provided operational support and advice pivotal in executing the audit,” Logan said.

“As we continue our commitment to transparency, we want to take this opportunity to publicly thank and disclose those organizations that have supported us during this audit,” Logan said in an emailed statement, which claimed that 1,500 people have spent over 100,000 hours working on the recount.

The Maricopa County audit has become the focus of intense scrutiny in MAGA world, as many see it as a possible avenue for Trump to return to the White House—which it isn’t. Dozens of GOP lawmakers from other states have visited the audit site, pledging to push for similar recounts in their own states.

Trump has become obsessed with the audit in Arizona in recent months and has taken to repeated almost verbatim the bogus claims made by Logan and others about widespread election fraud.

Despite the claim of “transparency” from Logan, the Cyber Ninjas CEO has yet to reveal how this huge pile of cash was spent, or provide any more information about the individuals who have donated to fund the audit.

But he did reveal how everyone was fed during the recount. 

In his statement Logan thanked Apologia Church in Phoenix, who he said “provided snacks for all of our participants throughout the duration of the audit and tirelessly worked behind the scenes to make this all a success.”

The militantly anti-abortion church, which in the past produced a film called “Babies Are Murdered Here,” defied lockdown measures over the last year and remained open without requiring masks indoors.

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Tucker Carlson Keeps Interviewing a Congressman Who Is Also His Son’s Boss

Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses ‘Populism and the Right’ during the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Hours after the U.S. Capitol was overrun by rioters on January 6, Fox News host Tucker Carlson brought on Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks to discuss the still-unfolding situation, introducing him as “a sincere and principled conservative.”

But Carlson didn’t mention that Banks is also his son’s boss.

That connection may matter more going forward. Banks is a rising star in the GOP who’s emerged as a key messenger on their attempts to contain the political fallout from the Capitol riot. Carlson, meanwhile, has been an outspoken booster of conspiracy theories about the January 6 insurrection, popularizing the baseless claim that the FBI may have instigated the violent attack.

Carlson, the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and one of the most powerful figures of the modern right, has had Banks on his show four times in the past two years. And while he’s heaped praise on the lawmaker, at no point has he told his viewers that his son, Buckley, is Banks’ spokesman, letting them know about the connection to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.

“Congressman Banks, I appreciate your bravery,” Carlson said as he concluded a March 9 segment, thanking him for questioning why the Navy had put Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” on its recommended reading list

During Banks’ appearance in March 2020, Carlson introduced him as “one of the few and loudest voices calling attention to the threat that China poses to the United States.” Carlson was deferential when he interviewed Banks in February 2020 as well, and in June 2020 Carlson shouted out a bill Banks was crafting that would make it a federal crime to deface memorials to the Founding Fathers and former presidents.

Banks has made clear he’s a fan of the elder Carlson’s show:

Banks is a rising star in the House GOP, landing the much-coveted role of chairman of the Republican Study Committee at the beginning of this Congress. 

And Buckley Carlson’s profile has risen with Banks’. He was hired in 2019 as an entry-level communications assistant, soon graduating from college. His previous work experience included a stint as an intern in President Trump’s White House. Six months later, he was promoted to Banks’ press secretary.  At the beginning of this year, Carlson got promoted to communications director for Banks’ congressional office and deputy communications director for the Republican Study Committee.

Banks’ public profile took a big jump in the past week when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy named him as the lead Republican on the House select committee to investigate the January 6 riots, only to have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boot him and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan from the committee. 

Banks and Jordan both voted against certifying President Biden’s wins in two states, supported a lawsuit aimed at overturning Biden’s victory, and have been outspoken in defending Trump in recent months. 

McCarthy responded to Pelosi’s rejection of two of his committee picks by pledging to boycott the committee altogether, and promising the GOP would do its own investigation into the riot and its causes. It seems that Banks will be involved: He spoke at a House Republicans’ Tuesday press event before the committee’s first meeting, and made his rounds on Fox News later in the day to push the GOP’s views.

“It’s clear at this point that Nancy Pelosi has cherry-picked the members to serve on this committee. She’s pre-written a narrative. Only members who will stick to her talking points are allowed to serve on this committee,” Banks said Tuesday, before the hearing began.

And while Banks hasn’t repeated Carlson’s claims that the capitol riot may have been a false flag operation, he’s been scathing in his claims that Democrats are exaggerating the severity of the attacks to score political points.

“Make no mistake: Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the left’s authoritarian agenda,” he said in a statement last week about the select committee, which was created by Democrats after Republicans blocked a bipartisan agreement for a bipartisan committee to investigate the attacks.

Democrats were also critical of Banks because an alleged Capitol rioter joined a congressional trip to the U.S.-Mexico border organized by the Republican Study Committee.

Buckley Carlson spoke on Banks’ behalf during that incident, calling the rioter’s presence at the border “purely incidental.”

“Chairman Banks never spoke to the individual in question, the Republican Study Committee was unaware of his identity and whereabouts on January 6, and he did not travel with our group to the border,” he said in a statement to CNN.

The actual committee held its first hearing on Tuesday, with Trump-critical Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, two Pelosi appointees, as the only Republicans who agreed to serve.

Last Wednesday, Carlson touted Banks and Jordan as the two Republicans named to the committee who “were by far the most likely to press for answers,” arguing that’s why Pelosi booted them from the select committee to investigate the attack.

“Today, Pelosi banned two Republican Members of Congress from serving on the Committee. They are Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana. What did they do wrong? Those two specifically seem most likely to ask questions about January 6 that Pelosi did not want to discuss. They pushed for openness, so she booted them,” he said in a segment introducing Jordan.

Banks has also seen his power grow since he was first elected in 2016. The hard-charging and ambitious Afghanistan War veteran became head of the Republican Study Committee, a powerful group of House Republicans, at the beginning of this congressional session. He was unsuccessful when he put out feelers about replacing Cheney when she was booted from GOP leadership earlier this year, but there’s growing buzz that he may take another stab at winning a spot in House GOP leadership if Republicans win back House control in next year’s midterm elections.

When Banks hired the younger Carlson in 2019, his chief of staff said that Banks and Tucker Carlson had never met, and that Banks didn’t realize that Tucker and Buckley were related when the hire was made.

“Jim’s got a reputation as a rising, young conservative leader on the Hill. We get folks who want to come work for him,” Banks’ chief of staff David Keller told the Journal Gazette in 2019.

Both Tucker and Buckley Carlson refused to talk to VICE News on the record for this story. Fox News declined to comment. Keller didn’t respond to emailed questions.

It’s not like it’s that unusual for scions of powerful political figures to land jobs in adjacent industries—New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, are one glaring example, and the children of the Bush, Clinton and McCain families all at one point or another landed plumb TV jobs. Washington is full of people who have family connections around town, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with someone related to a media figure working in Congress.

Carlson, a second-generation journalist who recently declared “The only thing I know much about is journalism,” even as he derided modern reporters as “cringing animals who are not worthy of respect.” The profession’s normal ground rules involve letting audiences know if there’s a possible conflict of interest in a story you’re covering, like a family member who works for the person you’re interviewing. 

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Man Charged With Sending Death Threats to Fauci

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (J. Scott Applewhite-Poo

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

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A 56-year-old man was charged Tuesday with sending threatening emails to top public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, at one point writing to Fauci that he and his “entire family will be dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”

Thomas J. Connally Jr., a technical writer, was indicted in federal court in Maryland for making threats against a federal official and interstate communication containing a threat to harm, for sending several threatening emails to Fauci and National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins, using a Protonmail account between December 2020 and last week. 

“Hope someone takes a baseball bat to your dirty lying elf skull and puts your [sic] out of your misery, you sickening vile piece of criminal DOG SHIT,” Connally allegedly wrote in a December 2020 email to Fauci, according to screenshots provided in the court filing. 

“You and your disgusting wife and daughters are getting 6 mandatory shots to their disgusting pig snouts while you watch,” said an email sent in April, one of six sent to Fauci over the course of three minutes on a Saturday night. “You and your entire family will be dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”

The emails repeatedly used anti-gay slurs. “Drop the ‘mandatory vaccine’ talk, or you’re getting 6 mandatory shots to your worhtless [sic] satanist f***** skull,” Connally allegedly wrote in another email sent to Collins on the same night, one of four. “I’ll smash every tooth out of your f***** skull.” In another email to Collins that night, he referred to Collins by an antisemitic slur. 

Though he used an encrypted email service, investigators tracked the emails to Connally using an IP address and a separate email, which he allegedly used for job listings and to keep track of passwords including to the ProtonMail account. 

“I will smash every bone in your worthless, venal, criminal elf skull,” Connally wrote in the most recent email to Fauci, sent July 21. “I will slaughter your entire family. You will pay with your childrens’ blood for your crimes, you sickening fucking piece of shit.”

Connally faces up to 15 years in prison if he’s convicted. 

“We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials,” Acting Maryland U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a statement. “Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants.”