The so-called “cyber symposium” put on by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in Sioux Falls, S.D. caught fire and crash-landed on Thursday, bringing three days of sheer boredom and weirdness to a predictably unsatisfying close.
Lindell, who is a diehard Trump fan and prominent voter fraud conspiracy theorist, launched the pseudo-conference with the hopes of definitively proving that the Don was robbed of the presidency last November by a band of Deep State goons and Chinese hackers. Inviting the press, cybersecurity professionals, and Trump associates, the pillow salesman planned to prove that ongoing claims about voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election are, in fact, real. Lindell claimed that he had “irrefutable” evidence of this in the form of “packet captures” (or “pcaps”) — basically intercepted network traffic, that, when analysed, would show that Chinese hackers had switched votes from Trump to Biden in Dominion Voting System machines across the country. These pcaps would provide “world changing” information that would ultimately lead to the re-instatement of Trump as president.
Unfortunately for Lindell, the man he hired to assess that data has now admitted that it can’t possibly show what he says it does. See, Lindell brought on various cyber analysts who were supposed to look at the data provided at the symposium and assess its validity. Josh Merritt, who is described as the pillow salesman’s “lead cyber expert,” did not stick to the script.
“So our team said, we’re not going to say that this is legitimate if we don’t have confidence in the information,” Merritt told The Washington Times on Thursday. He further told the outlet that the data, in the form that it’s been provided, could not prove that a cyberattack had occurred.
The apparent nothingburger of Lindell’s findings similarly means that the reward he had offered — $US5 ($7) million to any infosec official who could disprove his evidence of a conspiracy — will also not be materialising. Merritt apparently told the Times that the offer is “no longer on the table.”
So, to sum up: no mind-melting information, the world is unchanged, and nobody got paid. You don’t really need to know anything else but, if you’re curious, there’s more.
Throughout its baffling three-day span, the symposium more or less deteriorated into a series of alternately boring and bewildering episodes — the likes of which gave it the feel of being inside a big top whose tent poles are slowly collapsing.
On Thursday morning, Lindell announced that he had been “attacked” as he returned to his hotel the previous night. “I’m OK. It hurts a little bit,” he said. “I just want everyone to know all the evil that’s out there.” This sounded weird, so we reached out to the Sioux Falls Police Department, which told Gizmodo that they were legally barred from identifying the victims of crimes or alleged crimes but commented that they had received a report about an alleged assault at a hotel located near the symposium’s venue. The officer couldn’t provide any other details.
Anyway, whether it happened or not, getting jumped by a local anarchist isn’t Lindell’s top problem. More importantly, he’s currently being sued for $US1.3 ($2) billion by Dominion Voting Systems, the electioneering vendor at the centre of the pillow salesman’s voter fraud claims, which apparently grew tired of being implicated in his paranoiac ravings. (Dominion is also currently suing Newsmax, OAN, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and others, on similar grounds.) These legal troubles seemed to spill into the Sioux Falls event on Wednesday when news broke that a U.S. Court had rejected requests to throw out Dominion’s lawsuits against Lindell and others. Only minutes after the news broke, Lindell seemed to abruptly leave the stage — which numerous outlets reported on, implying that he may have been sweating bullets about the prospect of his potentially financially fucked future.
Legal troubles aside, if the point of this whole exercise was to give clear and convincing evidence of a conspiracy, the organisers have definitively failed to do so — not merely because their claims are bullshit but because the event itself was unwatchable. Common sense dictates that if you want to alert the public to something important, you schedule a short, concise hearing, in which you lay out all the facts accordingly (you know, like every police press conference you’ve ever seen). You don’t yap non-stop for 72 hours straight, seeding a mind-numbing disquisition that weaves in and out of personal narrative, religious sermon, political commentary, and Jim Garrison-esque conspiracy exposé. At its most compelling, Lindell’s oratory style is something akin to bad beat poetry and, at its worst, resembles the dronings of a lawn mower.
For the brave who managed to sit through this interminable drudge, the reward was, apparently, nothing. Robert Graham, a longtime security professional, tweeted out his final assessment:
Final verdict of this "cyber expert":
Number of "packet captures" or "cyber pcaps" seen = 0
Amount of "Absolute Proof" seen = 0
Amount of any evidence seen = 0
— Robᵉʳᵗ Graham #PcapsOrItDidntHappen (@ErrataRob) August 12, 2021
There you have it, folks.