MyPillow CEO’s Cyber Symposium Is Already a Deranged Circus

MyPillow CEO’s Cyber Symposium Is Already a Deranged Circus
Photo: JIM WATSON / AFP, Getty Images

Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, has launched a three-day “cyber symposium” aimed at providing incontrovertible evidence that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump by an evil cabal of cyber fiends and politicos.

Among the numerous rightwing figures in media, business, and GOP politics that have pushed the conspiratorial election fraud claims, Lindell stands out as one of the movement’s most prominent nutcases. Having apparently made it a mission to preach the gospel of Trump wherever he goes, Lindell has been promoting his weird event for weeks — even going on CNN, where he got into a heated argument with Drew Griffith about the validity of his dubious claims.

The cyber symposium, held in Sioux Falls, S.D. Aug. 10-12, is now being continuously live-streamed via the businessman’s buggy farce of a website, Frank, and is supposed to feature hard data that proves (once and for all!) that votes were manipulated in favour of Joe Biden last November.

The event has attracted a weird mix of attendees, including a who’s who of Trump’s most influential supporters. Steve Bannon, the alleged architect of the former president’s successful 2016 campaign, has been photographed around the event. Similarly, rightwing conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins (who has been pinpointed as the likeliest “Q” of QAnon), also video-streamed into the symposium to add his two cents. Even Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (an alleged Trump pal), for some reason showed up.

While Lindell has promised to present “world-changing” information that will force the Supreme Court to reinstate Trump as president, that information has not shown up yet and he mostly seems to be just making stuff up as he goes. Case in point: He kicked things off nicely on Tuesday by claiming that the event itself had been hacked. “The whole technology was attacked,” he babbled to the audience, later rambling, “We need to get the word out because they blocked the thing. But this is part of what I’m going to talk about today. This is the cover-up. This is the absolute cover-up of the worst in history.”

At one point, Lindell also showed everybody a video, which seems to lay out the grand narrative for his conspiratorial vision. It alleges that the 2020 election was stolen by a cabal of deep-state goons, the Chinese government, George Soros (?), and corrupt electioneering vendors like Dominion Voting Systems.

While, admittedly, America’s real deep state goons aren’t above stealing the occasional election (or just, like, killing a nation’s political leaders and replacing them with fascist friends), the claims that have emanated from the Trump crowd represent just one unsubstantiated over-the-top claim after another, the likes of which sound like aborted storylines from a bad comic book.

More relevantly, ongoing audits and reviews by knowledgable security professionals have repeatedly debunked many of the claims made by Trump acolytes — not that it matters much to them.

Perhaps the most absurd part of Lindell’s whole “symposium” stunt is that he has offered $US5 ($7) million to any cybersecurity professional who can look at his “data packets” and prove that claims of voter fraud are incorrect. Sounds like easy money, right?

Well, a number of infosec professionals are actually attending the event, though none of them seem to be under the delusion that they’re going to walk away with cash. Rather, many came in the hopes of seeing what Lindell is talking about and instead have weathered an unending tidal wave of bullshit. Instead of providing the security professionals with data to analyse, the pillow vendor has mostly just been messing with them.

Harri Hursti, an election security expert who attended the conference, told the Washington Post that the event was “a big fat nothing and a distraction,” also commenting “they have fed us with garbage just to control the narrative.”

Robert Graham, another well-known security professional who attended the event, has been live-tweeting most of the past two days, commenting that Lindell has continually promised to reveal to them “bombshell” data that proves malfeasance, only to feed them “random garbage that wastes our time.”

On Wednesday, Graham tweeted: “All day Mike Lindell has been on stage saying the cyber experts are happily working on packet captures. We are not. We haven’t been given the packet captures we were promised. I mentioned this because some of his PR guys came by looking to take video of cyber experts working on packet captures. They seem confused by the fact that there’s no cyber experts who have seen the promised packet captures.”

Footage of the conference is like something out of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, except not as interesting or fun to watch. Overall, this tweet seems to have summed up the experience of attending — or just viewing — the event:

Sounds about right.