Tucker Carlson Rushes To Defend White Nationalist Voter Deception Enthusiast 'Ricky Vaughn'
The Right, supposedly, lives in abject fear of voter fraud, always convinced that Democrats are doing something nefarious to thwart the election process. In fact, a whole bunch of them tried to stage a coup earlier this month because that is what they believed. Concurrently, many of them obsess over all of the "psyops" they think Democrats are doing. And yet we keep seeing reports of Republicans doing the things they accuse Democrats of — like voting for Donald Trump in their dead mother's name or fraudulently voting for Trump in Georgia when they actually live in Florida and encouraging others to do the same. One might even start to think that constantly telling Republicans how easy it is to do voter fraud and that Democrats do it all the time might lead to them going and trying to do it themselves and then getting arrested, because it's actually not that easy to do voter fraud.
And speaking of Republicans fucking with the vote — white supremacist Twitter troll Douglass Mackey, 31, better known by his online pseudonym "Ricky Vaughn" (after Charlie Sheen's character in Major League), was arrested on Wednesday for interference in the 2016 election.
According to the Department of Justice, Mackey — who was confirmed to be "Ricky Vaughn" by the Huffington Post in 2018 — was arrested for conspiring with other Trump supporters to use social media to spread misinformation meant to defraud people of their vote. (Alleged coconspirators include an as-yet-unidentified Trump devotee known for deploying pro-Trump bot armies who goes by the pseudonym "Microchip," and Anthime "Baked Alaska" Gionet, who was also recently arrested for his part in the Capitol riot/attempted coup.) More specifically, they ran a campaign targeting Clinton voters with memes claiming it was legal to vote by cell phone — and that at least 4,900 people ended up trying it.
As alleged in the complaint, between September 2016 and November 2016, in the lead up to the Nov. 8, 2016, U.S. Presidential Election, Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the "Candidate") to "vote" via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting.
For example, on Nov. 1, 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image that featured an African American woman standing in front of an "African Americans for [the Candidate]" sign. The image included the following text: "Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text '[Candidate's first name]' to 59925[.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history." The fine print at the bottom of the image stated: "Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016."
The tweet included the typed hashtags "#Go [Candidate]" and another slogan frequently used by the Candidate. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted "[Candidate's first name]" or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which was used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by the defendant and his co-conspirators.
This is fairly significant given the tiny margins by which Trump eked out a victory in some states.
Now, we all know that if Democrats had pulled such a scheme, Tucker Carlson would be screeching, "Oh, the humanity!" It would break his tiny heart that anyone would conspire to deprive hardworking Americans of their vote like this. But because this was done by Republicans to benefit Trump, his take is slightly different. Rather, his heart is breaking because Mackey — whom he absurdly describes as a "conservative journalist" — faces up to 10 years in prison just for doing memes.
What? People can't take a joke anymore?
This is just one more way that Joe Biden is failing at doing unity, Carlson explains. If he wanted to do unity, he would be nice to the white supremacist Twitter trolls who tried to ratfuck the 2016 election. Matt Walsh agrees!
They allege he deprived people of their right to vote by posting memes. Absurd on its face. If you were tricked out… https://t.co/hMGuM99zPx— Matt Walsh (@Matt Walsh) 1611787337.0
Guess what? You can't actually attempt to trick people out of voting. It's illegal, even if you swear you meant it as an adorable, whimsical joke. It says so right on the FBI website.
Intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting is voter suppression—and it is a federal crime.[...]
Bad actors use various methods to spread disinformation about voting, such as social media platforms, texting, or peer-to-peer messaging applications on smartphones. They may provide misleading information about the time, manner, or place of voting. This can include inaccurate election dates or false claims about voting qualifications or methods, such as false information suggesting that one may vote by text, which is not allowed in any jurisdiction.
This is far from the first time conservatives have tried to pull this shit. In 2004, someone circulated a flyer purporting to be from a non-existent "Milwaukee Black Voters League" around Milwaukee neighborhoods. The flyers told people they were ineligible to vote if they'd already voted in any election in the past year or if anyone in their family had been found guilty of anything, and that if they attempted to do so, they would be found guilty of a crime.
In 2008 in Virginia, a flyer falsely purporting to be from the Virginia Board of Elections circulated saying that Republicans were supposed to vote on the correct date of Tuesday, November 4, and Democrats were supposed to vote the day after. In 2012, political consultant Julius Henson was forced to pay the state of Maryland $1 million for having targeted Black voters with robocalls on the day of the 2010 election saying that Democrats had already won the election and they should just stay home instead of voting. And, of course, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are currently in a spot of bother for having targeted minority voters with robocalls meant to discourage them from voting by mail.
Mackey, clearly, knew how to use a computer. As did Gionet and "Microchip." There is no excuse for them to have thought that voter deception was legal. It is very Google-able! You Google it and it says, first thing, that it is a federal crime. As much as Tucker Carlson might like there to be, there is not a "unity pass" on committing a federal crime. It's illegal no matter who is president.
As ridiculous as it is, by the way, that Tucker Carlson called Mackey a "conservative journalist," it is equally ridiculous to call him a "right-wing social media influencer," as the Washington Post did, or a "right-wing provocateur" as the New York Times did. He's not showing anyone how to contour their face, he's not Andy Kaufman, he's not Dennis the Menace, he's an outspoken white supremacist who successfully ran a voter suppression campaign. "Provocateur" is not an appropriate substitution for "outspoken white supremacist." All of these terms downplay the seriousness of what people like Mackey believe and what they wish to accomplish — along with the fact that they are not just influencing or "provoking" but actually committing crimes. Charles Manson, frankly, had better claim to the term "provocateur" than does Doug Mackey.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse