The Laramee Filter: pseudorandom thoughts, subsequently put on the Internet.
Tom Laramee
Date Published:
May 10th, 2022
Word Count:
1,672 (12:30 read time)
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The Profound Irony of The Big Lie (Is That It's a Big Lie)

One of the more frightening aspects of our information-saturated culture is the incredibly effective use of propaganda. Today's example concerns itself with "The big lie", which is the conspiracy theory that Trump won the last presidential election.

For those of you living in a cave: Former President Donald Trump has spent months spreading lies about the 2020 election, which he himself is now calling "The Big Lie" as he continues to claim that a massive conspiracy robbed him of a second term."

So, The Big Lie is that idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that therefore Biden is an illegitimate president (BTW: Note the trend here: Trump also claimed that Obama was an illegitimate president using the racist "Birther" conspiracy theory. Kind of an interesting trend.)

Now: back to the power of propaganda

In conservative media, this claim has been reiterated so many times that, as of Jan 2022, only 21% of Republican voters say Joe Biden's victory was legitimate, and the vast majority agree with Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen[1].

What's fascinating about this story is mostly the raw power of propaganda to convince a large group of people that something is true when it's not. It's terrifying that, not only is something that's a lie so widely accepted, but the certainty of the people who believe it is equally impressive. To move about the world loudly proclaiming one owns "the truth" and that the rest of us are "sheeple", blindly consuming whatever our "lamestream media" is serving up: that's a bold move.

There's a vicious irony in there. I saw a scary chart earlier this year, produced by Vox, that listed "News sources trusted by at least 40% of democrats", and then "News sources trusted by at least 40% of republicans". On the democrat side was "CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, NY Times, BBC, MSNBC, Wash. Post, NPR, and Time".

On the republican side was a single entry "Fox News".

One media source.

For half of America.

Below is a reference that may have been the source for that slide[2].

What's so odd (and troubling) about that is that it's so much more effective a platform to produce propaganda when you have such a concentrated information source. It's just way harder to coordinate a lie across a dozen media outlets than it is within a single media outlet.

But that's a story for another day.

There are three main parts that really trouble me about this story

  1. OAN just had to admit, via a court order, that the big lie is indeed, a big lie.
  2. None of the court cases filed on behalf of Trump w/r/t the 2020 election have succeeded.
  3. None of the audits done on the 2020 election yielded any evidence of fraud.


Let's look at each of these in a bit of detail.

1. OAN Has Been Found Liable in a Defamation Case

I wonder if the following story will make it into the conservative media: Pro-Trump OAN network admits there was no widespread fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election after extensively pushing the claim.

From the article:

In a 30-second statement that aired Monday night, a voiceover stated: "Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020."

OAN was part of the propaganda machine, and they were subsequently sued, for defamation, for telling lies about the 2020 election, and they lost. The people who sued OAN helped administer the 2020 election in Georgia.

If there had been election fraud, it would have been completely insane for those folks to sue OAN, because said fraud would likely have come out during discovery for the case and they could have gone to jail.

Also worth noting: defamation is both (a) difficult to prove and (b) expensive to prove, and so nobody is going to attempt to litigate a defamation case unless is pretty much a sure thing (or, like Peter Thiel, they have millions of dollars to employ for "revenge litigation").

2. Litigating the 2020 Election Has Not Been Going Very Well

Also being ignored by conservative media is the record of court cases filed on behalf of Trump following the election:

"Nearly all the suits were dismissed or dropped due to lack of evidence".
"Judges, lawyers, and other observers described the suits as "frivolous" and "without merit". In one instance, the Trump campaign and other groups seeking his reelection collectively lost multiple cases in six states on a single day."
"By November 27, more than thirty of the legal challenges filed since Election Day had failed; by December 14 over fifty lawsuits had been dismissed"

Go ahead, read the "Legal analysis and reactions" section of that wikipedia article[3]. It's worth the time.

What's important here is that, if there was indeed election fraud, a lawsuit is the proper remedy. Many of those judges deciding whether to allow a lawsuit to proceed were appointed by Trump himself. The problem is a profound lack of evidence.

Let's face it: if there was evidence of fraud, a judge could be disbarred for not moving forward with a case. My guess is many of the Trump-appointed judges were practically begging for someone to bring enough evidence forward to move forward with a trial.

But nobody could.

And it's still going on[13] (and still nobody can).

And not only that: several people have been sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems. Now, if there was voting fraud, and Dominion was culpable (and there was fraud), do you really think Dominion would bring these suits to trial? No fucking way. They'd do anything they could to *avoid* discovery. So the fact that Dominion is proceeding with these cases is telling[4].

3. Forensic Audits of the 2020 Election Have All Turned Up Nothing

The third, very troubling part of this whole story, is that specific efforts to analyze election results in states like Wisconsin, Arizona, and Michigan turned up no evidence of fraud, even when they were being conducted by conservative organizations[5] [6] [7] [10].

All of this is incredibly troubling if we cycle back to the beginning: "only 21% of Republican voters say Joe Biden's victory was legitimate, and the vast majority agree with Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen".

That, my friends, is the power of propaganda. It also shows "confirmation bias" (people seek out information that confirms what they believe and avoid information that conflicts with what they believe).

It also shows the power of information bubbles, which, for the 2020 election fraud stories, the conservative media is doing a breathtakingly stellar job of keeping this entire corpus of information from being served to their viewers/readers.

A Partial List of the Things You Must Believe In Order to Continue to Believe In The Big Lie

Knowing all of that, it's worth making a list of all the things you need to believe in order to believe "The Big Lie":

  1. That "Cyber Ninjas" is in on it (lead by a CEO that helped spread "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theories).
  2. That a bunch of Trump-appointed judges are in on it.
  3. That the conservative "Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty" (WILL) is in on it[7].
  4. That half of the State of Georgia is in on it .. including a bunch of people who could go to jail if caught lying, from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.
  5. That half of Maricopa County is in on it .. from Jack Sellers (chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors), to Senate President Karen Fann, to Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen .. all of these folks would go to jail if they're caught lying.
  6. That Attorney General Barr, the DOJ, and the FBI are all in on it[8].
  7. That Dominion and Smartmatic, who are actively seeking several defamation cases, are somehow going to "hide the evidence of fraud" while allowing for legal discovery for the rest of their case in their defamation case (which would be legal suicide BTW).
  8. That the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is in on it[9]
  9. That a bunch of Michigan Republican lawmakers who investigated potential election fraud in 2020 is in on it[10].

Any yet in spite of all that .. a veritable mountain of information .. the majority of republicans believe the big lie.

That my friends, is the awesome power of propaganda[12].


[1] Do Republicans really believe Trump won the 2020 election? Our research suggests that they do.
[2] U.S. Media Polarization and the 2020 Election: A Nation Divided
[3] Post-election lawsuits related to the 2020 United States presidential election
[4] From Mike Lindell to OAN, here's everyone Dominion and Smartmatic are suing over election conspiracy theories so far
[5] Arizona ‘audit’ finds Biden won (by more votes) and no evidence of fraud
[6] Investigators say ‘no fraudulent absentee ballots’ in Georgia county
[7] Wisconsin Conservative Group Finds ‘No Evidence Of Widespread Fraud’ In 2020 Election
[8] Defying Trump, Attorney General Barr says the DOJ and the FBI didn't discover any evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election
[9] Pennsylvania Supreme Court Blocks Voting Machine Inspection In GOP Election Audit
[10] Michigan Republican-led investigation rejects Trump's claim that Nov. 3 election was stolen
[11] Nine Election Fraud Claims, None Credible
[12] And if you believe all of that, then I believe that makes you (to use a term you're likely familiar with), a sheeple.
[13] Judge: Perdue’s election fraud claims are ‘conjecture and paranoia’
Perdue Suit Pushing Election Fraud Claims Dismissed by Judge