Americans had prepared today (and also last week) for MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to unleash his nebulous avant-garde invention, Frank: a social media platform billed as a cross between YouTube and Twitter with elements of newspapers and television, except with free speech. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see the nexus realized.
Frank is currently down for an indeterminate length of time, but Lindell is offering an alternative spectacle. The homepage of FrankSpeech.com currently hosts the “Frankathon,” a 48-hour Lindell-hosted livestream broadcast set in a sort of news studio. He has a mug. The event opened today in full meltdown conspiracy mode.
“It was the biggest attack on a website, probably in history,” Lindell said of the failed launch. While Lindell has not yet specified exactly who attacked his website and how, the theory seems to be evolving live, with increasing certainty that this was the biggest cyberattack of all time. (A bucket of clues include attackers from “all over the world,” “Zuckabuck from Facebook,” and the inability to talk about “vaccines and machines.”) At this writing, Lindell says that 15 million viewers have tuned in.
We’ve reached out to My Pillow for comment and will update when we hear back.
Lindell’s headline news, though, is the announcement that My Pillow is counter-suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion for defamation, which he has framed as a defense of free speech. Court records show the lawsuit, which claims violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
The sum is slightly higher than the $1.3 billion in damages Dominion is currently seeking from Lindell in its own defamation suit, targeting Lindell’s wild fabrications that the company conspired with Democrats to steal the election from Donald Trump. (The site showed a looping video of Lindell’s claims, which I won’t repeat here. Dominion has also sued Fox News for allowing Lindell to make such claims without challenging their veracity.) Lindell has enlisted a legal A-team including prominent First Amendment attorney Nathan Lewin and Alan Derschowitz, primarily known for advising on the O.J. Simpson trial and defending Harvey Weinstein. (Both, the Daily Beast has noted, are longtime registered Democrats.) In a motion to dismiss, My Pillow’s attorneys argue that Dominion has engaged in “lawfare,” using the suits to “restrict the marketplace of ideas to one viewpoint.”
Dominion has argued that Lindell’s “viewpoint” (read: hysterical accusations) has caused them irreparable harm and led to an onslaught of violent threats against employees. “This is a meritless retaliatory lawsuit, filed by MyPillow to try to distract from the harm it caused to Dominion,” Dominion legal counsel Stephen Shackelford said in a statement emailed to Gizmodo.
Dershowitz, appearing on the Frankathon this morning via video, made a crystal clear point to distance himself from certain harmful misinformation that would likely be welcome on Lindell’s platform. Unprompted, he said, of free speech:
I defend the right of bigots and ignoramuses to say the Holocaust didn’t occur. It’s wrong, it’s foolish, it’s bigoted, it’s insulting. It affects my family. But I think they’re right to say it. If you want to say the Earth is flat, say the Earth is flat. The geologists will come and prove you wrong, historians will be wrong about the Holocaust.
Lindell also said:
“...It would be like if My Pillow was out there, and all these people were saying there’s rocks and knives in my pillows. And I would just say what I would do as the owner. I would say, ‘hey, everybody, look... there’s no rocks or knives.’”
Dershowitz does plan to uncover the truth behind Dominion’s election conduct in discovery, in which he’ll demand access to Dominion’s machines and source code, in case completely unsubstantiated social media-sourced conspiracy theories prove to be true.
You can watch unfolding events here. Steve Bannon and Diamond and Silk are on the docket. And you can view the lawsuit below.
UPDATE 4/19/2021 3:35 p.m. ET: This post has been amended to include comment from Dominion.