WASHINGTON — As pillow magnate-cum-election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell finds once-supportive media no longer interested in his views after a wave of defamation lawsuits, one outlet remains ready and willing to regularly broadcast his lies: Steve Bannon’s “War Room” show, which Lindell also happens to underwrite.
“Dominion was part of it,” Lindell claimed on Friday’s program, without evidence, accusing the voting machine manufacturer of working with China to rig the November election against former President Donald Trump. “If you work for Dominion and you were part of this crime against humanity, turn yourself in. Save yourself some jail time.”
Dominion Voting Systems has already sued Lindell, Fox News and others for as much as $1.6 billion each for spreading unfounded claims that the company was involved in a grand scheme to steal the election from Trump. One prominent lawsuit defendant, lawyer Sidney Powell, who in a bizarre news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters managed to tie in dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, argued in a recent court filing that she should not be held liable for her claims because no reasonable person could have believed them to be factual.
Dominion did not respond to HuffPost’s queries about Bannon’s program.
In a series of interviews with HuffPost, Lindell acknowledged that most media outlets have banned him from discussing the election or Dominion during his appearances.
“They tell me what I can and can’t say,” he said, blaming lawsuits filed by Dominion and another voting machine company, Smartmatic, which has also sued him. “They’re using lawsuits to suppress our free speech.”
Apart from Bannon’s show that appears on various websites and radio stations, Lindell said the pro-Trump One America News is the only place that allows him to talk about those topics. “It’s a great network,” he said.
Neither OAN President Charles Herring nor Bannon responded to queries regarding Lindell’s falsehoods.
From Flying Air Force 1 To Hawking Pillows
For Bannon, who just four years ago was a top White House adviser flying on Air Force 1 and implementing his own anti-immigrant, “nationalist” agenda just yards from the Oval Office, his descent to pillow and vitamin pitchman has been dramatic.
And as Bannon praises Lindell for his “courage” in not backing down on his election claims, of course, he is also lauding one of the few — and perhaps the only — financial backers of his production.
“We are very honored to be part of the MyPillow family. Go to mypillow.com today!” Bannon told his audience on Friday, as he has done every day of late.
The only other ad appearing on the show itself is for vitamins. “It is incumbent upon every individual, every individual in our audience and in this nation to boost their own immune system,” Bannon says, pushing a “War Room”-branded starter pack that includes vitamin D3 and zinc tablets. “One of our focuses here is to make sure that not only do we have patriot warriors, but we have healthy patriot warriors.”
While Bannon is occasionally able to interrupt Lindell’s stream of debunked election fraud theories to ask what proof Lindell has, he does not challenge his benefactor when Lindell, rather than providing proof, instead repeats easily disproven lies about votes being “flipped” from Trump to Biden by the voting machines.
Eventually, Bannon transitions to complimenting Lindell’s pillows, sheets and other bedding accessories, and reminds his viewers and listeners to take advantage of the special “promo code” his show offers.
Pillow sales, in fact, are the entire point behind Lindell’s energetic promotion of his election lies, according to Dominion’s lawsuit. “Lindell ― a talented salesman and former professional card counter ― sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows,” states the complaint filed in federal court, pointing out Lindell’s previous willingness to make unfounded claims about the medical benefits of his pillows that he paid $1.1 million to settle.
Lindell, who prior to getting into the pillow business used to gamble for a living at casino blackjack tables, laughed at the idea he is hoping to make money from his election claims and said he has lost $65 million in sales already. “That’s the biggest lie in history, because I’ve lost 22 retailers because of cancel culture,” he told HuffPost.
Sued For Defamation But Still Lying
Lindell has already produced a two-hour movie that purports to prove his election assertions, and plans to release another. He said he has information from “cyber” experts “who work inside the government” but refused to name them or say what agencies they work for. He said he will get all his information before the U.S. Supreme Court ― which he expects will “take down” the 2020 election result and put Trump back in office by August ― but refused to say how.
What’s more, Lindell said he is not at all concerned about Dominion’s lawsuit and that he has hired a legal team to countersue Dominion. “I’m going after them. They should be the ones who are worried,” he said.
While Bannon continues to give Lindell free rein to spread his election falsehoods, not even all his broadcast associates are willing to go along.
John Fredericks, the Virginia owner of the chain of radio stations that carries Bannon’s “War Room” program, said he refuses to have Lindell on his own show.
“I have nothing to do with Mike Lindell…. There’s a reason I don’t have him on. Because I have seen no evidence,” Fredericks said, adding that he does not believe his carriage of “War Room” makes him potentially liable for the statements made on Bannon’s program. “We’re running his show. He’s not an employee of the company.”
That legal theory might not work should Dominion choose to take action against Bannon and his partners, said Clay Calvert, a media law professor at the University of Florida.
“He owns the stations on which the allegations were made. By choosing to let Bannon broadcast, Fredericks adopts that show’s content as his own,” Calvert said. “It would be rather perverse if Fredericks could profit from Bannon’s show and then not claim any responsibility for it.”
Bannon himself seems unconcerned by the litigation. “Mike, God bless you. You’re a patriot and a warrior. You’re beloved by so many people in this country,” he told Lindell on Friday after giving him nearly 45 minutes to spread his false election claims. “I don’t have to tell you don’t stop fighting because I know you never will.”