‘2,000 Mules’ Producer Apologizes to Man Depicted Committing Election Fraud

The conservative media company Salem Media Group has apologized to a Georgia man who was falsely depicted as having committed election fraud in the film “2,000 Mules,” which Salem co-produced and released in 2022.

The documentary, written and directed by the right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza, claimed that Democrats had conspired with nonprofit groups to rig the 2020 election in favor of President Biden by using “mules” who stuffed ballot boxes in swing states.

More than a million people watched “2,000 Mules” in just the first two weeks after its release in May 2022, and the film grossed over $10 million. Its unfounded allegations became an article of faith for an untold number of Americans convinced that the election had been stolen. Five months later, Salem released a companion book.

The film features surveillance video of the man from Georgia, Mark Andrews, as he places ballots into a drop box near Atlanta, along with voice-over commentary by Mr. D’Souza calling the action “a crime” and adding, “These are fraudulent votes.”

Although Mr. Andrews’s face is blurred in the images, the film’s producers used unblurred versions of the same video to promote the film on a variety of conservative news outlets, including Tucker Carlson’s former show on Fox News and a show hosted by Charlie Kirk, a founder of Turning Point USA, and produced by Salem.

Mr. Andrews sued Mr. D’Souza, along with Salem and two individuals associated with the right-wing election-monitoring group True the Vote, for defamation in October 2022. State investigators in Georgia have since found that Mr. Andrews committed no crime and that he had legally deposited the ballots for himself and several members of his family.

“It was never our intent that the publication of the ‘2,000 Mules’ film and book would harm Mr. Andrews,” Salem said in a statement on Friday. “We apologize for the hurt the inclusion of Mr. Andrews’s image in the movie, book and promotional materials have caused Mr. Andrews and his family.”

Salem, one of the largest radio broadcasters in the country, with 115 stations, also syndicates radio and podcast content, operates several websites and publishes a number of conservative Christian-themed magazines. It said on Friday that it had taken “2,000 Mules” off its platforms and that it would no longer distribute the film and the book.

As the 2022 midterm elections approached, the film became a touch point for a variety of institutions and individuals alleging that the presidency had been stolen from Donald J. Trump, who for his part called it “the greatest and most impactful documentary of our time.”

Several advocacy groups, inspired by “2,000 Mules,” formed to stake out ballot boxes — at times with individuals carrying firearms — and to warn voters against voting early.

But some of the film’s staunchest promoters, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who attended a screening at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Fla., and Fox News, which aired several segments about the film, later admitted that they had peddled lies about the election. In February, a lawyer for True the Vote told a Georgia court that it had no evidence to support its allegations of election fraud in the state.

Despite such admissions, many Americans continue to believe that the 2020 election was rigged. A poll conducted last August by CNN found that more than two-thirds of Republican voters did not believe that President Biden had won fairly.

Mr. D’Souza did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote, did not answer a phone call or reply to an email seeking a response.

“2,000 Mules” relied heavily on cellphone location data provided by True the Vote, which Mr. D’Souza claimed showed ballot mules approaching ballot boxes several times a day, as well as attending Black Lives Matter protests. The film claimed to provide evidence of fraud in battleground states that were critical to the outcome of the 2020 election, including Georgia and Arizona. True the Vote officials claimed that they had turned over proof of fraud to the F.B.I.

But subsequent investigations have debunked the documentary’s claims, and Arizona’s attorney general referred True the Vote to the F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service for investigation, noting that the group had provided no evidence to substantiate its fraud claims.

In September, a federal judge in Georgia rejected efforts by defendants to dismiss Mr. Andrews’s defamation case. The case is pending.

#Mules #Producer #Apologizes #Man #Depicted #Committing #Election #Fraud

About The Author

Leave a Comment