Right-wing media circles have long been evidence- and fact-free ragertainment channels that specialize in peddling angry feelings and blame, but not in offering solutions. The only real answers that the conservative mediasphere has for anything is a vague thesis that our country’s democratic experiment has failed, and in its place, a fascist ethnostate should be installed.
To this end, Fox News, OAN, and Sinclair Broadcasting stations have been doling out election doubt for years, culminating in the attempted coup this past January. Since the Jan. 6 insurrection, conservative news channels have continued to play the dangerous game of providing heaping servings of conspiracy nonsense, while also pretending they are not. In order to do this effectively, they prance out “experts” claim there were strange things afoot in the 2020 election results, provide zero pieces of factual evidence, and then tell their audience that they are just reporting the news. One such “expert” was Ed Solomon. Solomon came on OAN at the end of January, purporting to be an “expert mathematician” with proof of election rigging. Well, about that.
Vice reports that Solomon appeared on OAN to explain that he had proof—by way of synchronized precinct reporting, which he said was identical to vote tabulation results—that proved “an algorithm” had been used to rig the election. When asked about the probability of this kind of synchronization happening, Solomon reportedly asserted that "you can use the binomial probability formula, and the chance of that event happening is one over ten to an exponent so large there's not enough stars in the universe—there's not enough atoms in the universe to explain the number. It can't happen naturally."
According to the new Dominion lawsuit, filed against OAN Network, Solomon is not exactly a mathematical expert. In fact, his expertise in math is a big question mark:
Ed Solomon was portrayed by OAN on its network as an alleged “expert mathematician.” In reality, however, he is a convicted felon who, at the time he was interviewed by OAN, was working as an “installer” at a swing set construction company in Long Island.
Unfortunately for America, these outlets are not legitimate news organizations. While they use the same kinds of graphics and sound effects other news outlets use, they choose not to verify the veracity of the claims being made, and maybe even more insidiously, they do not even verify the claims of expertise being made by the people talking on air. In fact, Dominion’s lawsuit claims that while OAN might have claimed they didn’t realize Solomon was not a trustworthy subject-matter expert, Dominion had “expressly notified OAN of independent evidence debunking them, because former President Trump’s own administration had debunked them, and because OAN itself had effectively acknowledged it by secretly removing several articles and broadcasts from its own website that made similar claims.”
OAN also knew Solomon’s claims were bogus because Solomon was the farthest thing imaginable from an “expert mathematician”—he was in fact a convicted felon with no college degree. Nonetheless, OAN broadcast and endorsed as its own Solomon’s preposterous and baseless allegations that the 2020 election was rigged through computer algorithms Solomon claimed were implemented in voting machines in the very counties and jurisdictions that used Dominion machines.
FactCheck.org reports that Solomon “attended classes as a math major” at StonyBrook University “for various terms between 2008 and 2015, but did not get a degree.” And to be clear, not having a math degree, being convicted of some sort of drug felony, and having a non-math-related job doesn’t mean you cannot be an expert mathematician. Being unable to defend your math (especially math that relies on numbers that can’t be shared or verified) makes you not a very plausible “expert mathematician.”
“It seems like [Solomon] may have sifted through the early Fulton County data … and picked out entries that have the proportion ‘pattern’ [he] dreamed up, using teensy numbers that are utterly inconsequential,” Charleen Adams, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who has written about the misleading use of statistics in election fraud claims, told us by email.
Ryan Macias, former acting director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Voting System Testing and Certification Program, also pointed out in a phone interview that Georgia’s audit — which included a hand tally of the paper ballots — and recount further disprove the claim that an algorithm was used to steal the election for Biden. The counts ultimately confirmed the originally reported election outcome.
“That is the verification that the system is correct,” Macias said.
This video explains some of the fundamental math errors and statistical problems that are inherent in “Stop the Steal” hoodwinkery. (To skip to the good parts, begin around the two-minute mark.)