Federal prosecutors accused Douglass Mackey, 31, described in news reports as a “Twitter Troll,”of coordinating with co-conspirators to spread misinformation on Twitter in 2016 that Hillary Clinton’s supporters could vote by sending a text message to a specific phone number.
Mackey was arrested a week ago in the first criminal case in the country alleging voter suppression through the use of false tweets.
Seth DuCharme, the acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office is prosecuting the case, said, “With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes.” The alleged crime is a conspiracy to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors allege that 4,900 really gullible and lazy Hillary Clinton supporters were fooled by Mackey’s scheme into trying to vote for her using a phone number publicized on social media. Mackey and his co-conspirators joked online about about tricking “dopey” liberals.
There is no question that what Mackey et al. did was unethical, dishonest, unfair and sinister. However, I find it hard to understand how he can be prosecuted while the deceptions of others whose efforts to mislead voters and either dissuade them from voting or get them to vote for a candidate they otherwise would not have were far more widespread and had far more impact on election results. My guess is that this charge is harassment, and harassment based on partisan intimidation.
Were not the inaccurate and manipulated polls constantly reported by the new media before the 2020 election designed to “oppress” Trump supporters and Republicans, to pick just one example? Didn’t the biased news coverage both after the 2016 election and before the 2020 election have the same motive as Mackey’s tweets? What about colleges that created a hostile environment for conservatives on campus, making political organizing by conservative studentdifficult or even impossible?
Like so many of the one-sided measures we have seen developing since the 2020 election as the Left sets out, rather brazenly, to institutionalize double standards that discourage dissent and opposition, this prosecution appears to be a First Amendment attack. The Supreme Court has decreed that lying is constitutionally protected unless it results in other crimes, like fraud. The lies of journalists, pundits, performers, candidates and other social media “influencers”—especially their Big Lies—do far more damage than Mackey’s stupid social media tricks.
How is it equitable to threaten him with prison for misdirecting a few thousand idiots—-yes, believing something so easily checked is cretinous—while Democratic and progressive trolls, many in elected positions or with press credentials, convinced smarter Americans that President Trump killed 400,000 people and Russia was responsible for spreading lies about Joe Biden’s wonderful and absolutely blameless son?
I doubt the charges against Mackey will hold up in court if he has the integrity and resources to challenge them. He’s an asshole for sure, but the Bill of Rights exists to protect assholes.