Review: ‘Absolute Proof’ is just as bad as you’d expect

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Gage Skidmore, Courtesy Creative Commons

“Mike Lindell” by Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Noah Colbert, news staff

The last month hasn’t exactly been a fruitful one for MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Lindell was banned from Twitter on Jan. 26, for consistently parroting discredited election fraud conspiracies. Lindell claimed Twitter had taken over and ran his account from Germany for two weeks prior to the ban. In an interview on Newsmax, an anchor walked off after Lindell refused to stop talking about Dominion voting machines. And despite his best efforts, he was unable to keep his beloved President Trump in office. 

Yet none of this has stopped Lindell from pushing forward his deeply held belief that the 2020 election was stolen through massive voter fraud. His documentary “Absolute Proof,” released Feb. 5 on One America News Network, or OANN, is a testament to this belief. Yet the documentary —perhaps unsurprisingly— fails to live up to its name.

The first letdown is the runtime. Lindell claimed that he had produced a documentary that clocked in at three hours, yet the final product doesn’t even pass two. It’s plausible that there is a director’s cut, as there are many strange cuts throughout the documentary, usually at times where Lindell seems about to embark on a tirade too crazy for even his production. But to those that are not already true believers, the shortened run time is a blessing. 

An 80-second disclaimer proceeds the documentary in which OANN attempts to distance itself as much as possible from the drivel the audience is about to witness. 

“The statements and claims expressed in this program are presented at this time as opinions only and are not intended to be taken or interpreted by the viewer as established facts,” the statement read. 

If so, one might wonder why OANN then felt the need to air the documentary, since the statement discloses the fact that you will basically be lied to for 2 hours. The decision is even more perplexing considering the fact that OANN is also facing litigation from Dominion, and a weak disclaimer problem will not protect them from this. But considering the exodus of viewers from Fox News after it became perceived as “too liberal,” it is not surprising that OANN is willing to risk this to cater to Trump’s base. 

After the disclaimer, the camera cuts to Mike Lindell sitting behind a news anchor’s desk with  screen monitors on both sides of him. Before his interviews with “experts” and “witnesses,” which make up most of the documentary, Lindell gives us a rundown of the general narrative. The election fraud took place in dozens of different ways, but the main method revolved around Dominion Voting Systems. He alleges that Dominion flipped votes from Trump to Biden; brought votes from other countries like China, Iran, and Germany; deleted votes from Trump and added votes from Biden; and weighed Trump and Biden votes differently. Why each of these methods would be needed when one properly executed would suffice is never revealed. 

However, Lindell seemed to put some thought into why all the other imperfect methods of voter fraud would be necessary if the machines could take care of everything. As he says, the votes for Trump were so overwhelming that the algorithms somehow broke down. Lindell speculates that the true tally was 79 million for Trump and 68 million for Biden as opposed to 81 million for Biden and 74 million for Trump. The machines were just not able to handle the sheer quantity of votes Trump received, so the polling centers had to shut down and use other methods to push Biden over the top. If this hadn’t happened, Lindell alleges that no one would have known about the massive fraud that took place, a claim that falls flat on its face.

Numerous times, Lindell shows graphs that reveal nothing, contextless figures and unsourced data that he expects his viewers to take at face value. At one point, he runs down the exact amount and type of fraudulent votes in each battleground state that Trump lost. From dead voters, to backdated ballots, to non-state residents voting, the primary methods of physical fraud seem to vary from state to state; each one seems to have decided to use its own unique methods for stealing the election. Lindell also refers to the total count of illegal votes as a “margin of error,” displaying a laughable misunderstanding of what a margin of error is. 

Lindell’s claims make even less sense considering the massive scale of the alleged conspiracy. The charges Lindell levies implicate people from across the entire country, even throughout the world. He believes that foreign interference colluded with domestic traitors to propel Joe Biden to the presidency but has no speculation why this massive cabal did not think to prevent Republicans from gaining 13 House seats, maintaining state legislative majorities and only losing 3 net seats in the Senate. 

In between his absurd claims, Lindell rants about communism, cancel culture and the suppression of Christianity that apparently have something to do with how the election was stolen. While funny, his words reveal the true nature of the tale the right is telling itself: It is not genuine concern for election integrity that drives the election fraud talks. Rather, it is a culture war and grievance narrative that is emotion-based – trying to debunk it is impossible because you cannot disprove emotion.  

The information that Lindell throws at the viewer is so incoherent and scattered that, unless one is willing to pause constantly and take notes, information absorption is virtually impossible. Even someone who is entirely on board with Lindell’s worldview would not be able to explain the narrative of what happened on election night in a cohesive manner. Hearing contextless numbers thrown at you for hours makes you feel like you are sitting in a calculus class taught by a fifth-grader. 

Throughout the film, Lindell interviews a number of guests, each of whom repeats and adds to the pseudo-reality he pushes. Guests range from crank ex-military figures, who a cursory Google search will reveal have been thoroughly discredited, to purported election experts. 

The guest viewers are most likely to recognize is Melissa Carone, the woman in Michigan who went viral after she appeared drunk while testifying with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about the fraud she saw. Her allegations of fraud stem not even from fraud she observed but rather what she didn’t see. Carone claims that in the 22 hours she spent as an IT contractor, she did not see a single Trump ballot. When repeating Carone’s claim only a minute later, Lindell ups the hours to 26. Though she fails to establish any other reasonable objections than this, Carone’s appearance will no doubt endear her with the Trump base that she is certainly courting for her Michigan state House run. 

Lindell’s documentary ends with him giving a final screed reiterating his baseless claims. However, he concludes on an oddly hopeful note, considering his efforts to keep Donald Trump in office were all for naught. He suggests that all 9 Supreme Court justices are watching, and calls the movement a revival that will bring the country back to being one nation under God. Lindell’s words, though nonsensical, highlight the degree to which religious fanaticism has overtaken the Republican party. It has pledged itself to former President Donald Trump in a way that mirrors cultist devotion. Religious undertones and fear of modernity pervade the documentary. 

Lindell, who has called the COVID-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast,” has a distrust of technology that is evident in every statement he makes about Dominion machines. The fear in his voice when discussing simple things like algorithms and digital software resonates with older Americans. This may explain the staying power of conspiracies about the 2020 election; they prey upon people’s deeply held misgivings about things they do not understand. 

“Absolute Proof” is ultimately a silly documentary that will have no direct impact on our culture; perhaps outside of some of your relatives on Facebook, you probably won’t hear much about it. But it portends a worrying fusion of post-truth narratives, right-wing extremism and religious fanaticism no longer confined to the fringes. It is a symptom of a broader cancer that is spreading, as of yet, unchecked through the U.S. body politic.