By Micah Morrison
“Victory has one hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan,” John F. Kennedy famously reminded the world in the wake of the Bay of Pigs disaster. It’s a lesson Time Magazine forgot in assembling its recent 6,800-word fantasy epic, “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved the 2020 Election.”
Lead writer Molly Ball and three additional Time reporters inventory a loosely connected ecosystem of notorious self-promotors now rushing to claim paternity for the Joe Biden victory. It was, Time tells us, a “conspiracy” of the selfless and the good, working to “keep the peace.”
On Election Day, Ball writes, “the nation was braced for chaos. Liberal groups had vowed to take to the streets, planning hundreds of protests across the country. Right-wing militias were girding for battle.”
But a “a well-funded cabal of powerful people” was ready. They ranged “across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”
What did this conspiracy do? “They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears. They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction.”
Who were the conspirators? They were “left-wing activists and business leaders,” the strange bedfellows of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, Democrats, Republicans, advocacy groups, “the institutional left, like Planned Parenthood and Greenpeace; resistance groups like Indivisible and MoveOn; progressive data geeks and strategists, representatives of donors and foundations, state-level grassroots organizers, racial-justice activists.” And more: “Congress, Silicon Valley and the nation’s statehouses,” were involved. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights CEO Vanita Gupta (now a Biden nominee for associate attorney general), former House leader Dick Gephardt, the National Council on Election Integrity, the Voting Rights Lab, and dozens of other groups and individuals were involved.
You can read the entire epic here. As serious political journalism, it’s nonsense. But here at Judicial Watch, we took note of three important issues that Time rushed past: the Left’s work with Big Tech to suppress information; the campaign against mail-in voting; and the command and control of violent protestors.
Time notes that elements of the Left “successfully pressured social media companies.” We don’t hear much more about it, except that “veteran progressive operative” Laura Quinn, a co-founder of data group Catalist, piloted a “secret project” to track the online flow of disputed information. And that armed with the Catalist findings, Left activists leaned on Mark Zuckerberg and others to step up pressure on social media opinion and reporting that they viewed as “disinformation.”
Judicial Watch has repeatedly warned about Big Tech’s concentration of power and the perils of censoring conservative speech. Many conservative voices have been banned from social media, including then-President of the United States Donald Trump. Judicial Watch’s own Tom Fitton was suspended from Twitter for an innocuous tweet about hydroxychloroquine—the exact same tweet that Tom had repeatedly posted and that Twitter had found in September to be not in violation of its rules.
Time does not pause to consider the dangers in gigantic corporations moving to censor speech. Nor does it question the merits of mail-in voting, despite serious problems with the practice. The Constitution gives state legislatures, not the courts, the authority to decide how elections will be conducted.
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider Pennsylvania’s judicial rewrite of state laws governing mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that “changing the rules in the middle of the game is bad enough. Such rule changes by officials who may lack authority to do so is even worse.” Read the full Thomas dissent here.
We share Justice Thomas’s concerns. Judicial Watch is a national leader in the campaign for fair and lawful elections. Our litigation teams have been working for years to clean up dirty voter rolls
In Pennsylvania, for example, we sued the state for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from its rolls, as required by the National Voter Registration Act. As we reported in October, Pennsylvania set out a ludicrously low level of inactive names eligible for removal under the NVRA. The state initially claimed that in one county of 457,000 registrants, it had found only eight inactive names eligible for removal. In another county of 357,000 registrants, only five names had been removed. In a third county of 403,000 registrants, only four names were removed. Read more here about the Pennsylvania case and other Judicial Watch efforts to clean up voter rolls.
Time also glides past what appears to be the biggest secret in its secret history: the ability of the Left to turn on and off street protests that could become violent. The revelations are buried deep in the story.
On Election Night, Time reports, “activists charged with the protest strategy” had a “difficult” conversation. When was the right time to trigger massive street protests? “We wanted to be mindful of when was the right time to call for moving masses of people into the streets,” one progressive activist told Time.
“As much as [Left activists] were eager to mount a show of strength,” Time reported, “mobilizing immediately could backfire and put people at risk. Protests that devolved into violent clashes would give Trump a pretext to send in federal agents or troops.”
So on Election Night, “the word went out: stand down.”
One leading protest organization sent out a notice saying it “would not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary.”
Another progressive activist told Time that protestors “had spent so much time getting ready to hit the streets” on Wednesday, the day after the election. But they followed orders. “Wednesday through Friday, there was not a single Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident like everyone was expecting.”
A national mobilization effort aimed at turning out street protests that could turn violent—sparked perhaps by an “Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident”—reveals an extraordinary degree of organization, command and control. That’s worth a closer look. But you probably won’t read about it in Time.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: [email protected]