The Big Reveal That Wasn’t

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota—Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO, has been talking about his three-day “cyber forensic symposium” for months. When we last spoke, he told me it was going to be the biggest event in the world. Many, many hundreds of people from across the country would be in attendance. Secretaries of state, attorneys general, governors, cybersecurity experts, and media from across the political spectrum would fill a stadium and watch in near disbelief as he convinced all of the nonbelievers that they were wrong about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. And finally, with his new evidence, everyone in attendance would know Donald Trump had won the election and that as soon as the morning of August 13, the result would be overturned and Trump reinstated.  

Like many of Lindell’s recent fantasies, the symposium he envisioned never materialized. The stately arena that was going to host this huge crowd was actually just a modest event space that held at most 200 people, with an adjacent gun range and a small combined lounge and bar called “Club Lobo.” 

Throughout the event—which took place last Tuesday through Thursday—Lindell, sometimes accompanied by his “experts,” sometimes alone, sat at a glass table on a makeshift stage. Attendees sat on plastic folding chairs surrounding the stage. Certain guests had special seats, with handwritten “reserved” signs taped onto the back of bar stool chairs. The audience, although smaller than expected, seemed for the most part engaged, almost riled up.  At one point an attendee, apropos of nothing, asked if it was time to “bring in the military to stop the coup.”

The event many were promised would be the moment Lindell shared his “PCAPs” with the world. Looking at packet captures is a standard networking way to view traffic over the internet. We provided a comprehensive explanation of PCAPs in a Dispatch Fact Check:  “Traffic over the internet is sent as packets of information. They aren’t encrypted, necessarily, but they are encoded, because they don’t need to be human-readable while they’re in transit.” 

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Comments (135)
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  • Thank you, Khaya, for your painstaking work at this thankless task. You’re on the front lines of this misinformation war. As sad a topic as it is, I very much enjoyed this piece for the high quality of reporting and analysis. Good work.

    Part of me wonders whether Mike Lindell is back on drugs. Sounds like he needs help.

  • I work for an elected official in a County in California. We had no competitive races in our County, and not a single candidate complained about an unfair election. But I still have deluded Trump/Lindell fanboys demanding that we conduct a "forensic audit" on our voting machines to prove they weren't hacked. I keep explaining to them that if they were really smart enough to hack machines all over the country, they would also be smart enough to only target states and county's where changing the bare minimum of votes would make a difference in an election. Risking getting caught by tampering with machines in California, where Trump was certain to lose by millions of votes would be a ludicrous strategy by people they have already decided are ingenious strategic planners, and I'm not going to waste taxpayer money and the Registrar's resources to prove that they rigged an election that did not need rigging. They always respond that we should check anyways, "just to be sure!" And I curse the name of Lindell every time I hear from one of these deluded people.

  • An excellent summation of this pseudo-event. Thank you, Ms. Himmelman.
    Sadly, Tina Peters & Lauren Boebert both represent (and work for) me in SW Colorado.
    FWIW, the Colorado secretary of state will not allow Mesa Co. Clerk Tina Peters to oversee the next election, due to Peters allowing an outsider into a secure conference who then leaked images containing Mesa County elections system passwords to a far right website.

    1. Breaking News on Tina Peters:

  • Mike Lindell needs to focus on his business, I think Bernie Sanders new "🅞🅤🅡 🅟🅘🅛🅛🅞🅦 " is gonna be a hit with the libs, and could be a real game changer.

  • Michigan resident here. It should be Patrick Colbeck, not Holbeck.

  • It's just grift. And yes, showing a bunch of data that no one understand IS meant to wear down the audience into just believing "something" must be there, look at all that "evidence".

    It's just to play to the crazy base.

    The whole "we were attacked by antifa" is just a ruse to later be able to say "well, we HAD the evidence, but antifa stole/hacked/ate our homework".

    That some Americans are following this like it's NASA getting ready for a moon landing is just INSANE.

  • Thanks Khaya, you poor soul. You’ll never get those days of your life back. I’m thinking those 3 days should be tacked on to your vacation balance.

  • Great, Jerrod Sessler’s running in my House district. 2022’s shaping up to be a complete circus.

  • It's sad, (so sad) so sad
    It's a sad, sad situation
    And it's getting more and more absurd
    It's sad, (so sad) so sad
    Why can't we see the PCAPs?
    Oh, it seems to me
    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    What do I do to make you listen
    What have I got to do to be heard
    What do I do when boredom strikes me
    What have you got to show
    Everything you say is
    Simply the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard

    [Apologies to Elton John and all his fans]

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