Dominion Voting Systems’ billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News continues to reveal how craven, duplicitous, and lazy the right-wing propaganda machine truly is. The evidence presented in the form of emails, text messages, and on-air lies has exposed the moral bankruptcy of everyone from ownership down to the hosts and the producers of its shows. It has also revealed how lazy the on-air talent is and how easily conmen and cranks can be allowed to present themselves to the world as “experts.”
Marlene Bourne might not be a name you’ve heard before, but she’s representative of how far away from reality Fox News will go in order to promote a minority rule government. The Daily Beast has done a deep dive on Bourne, as she seems to have been one of the sources—and probably inadvertently somewhat plagiarized by lazy host Maria Bartiromo.
According to the report, Dominion lawyers collected an email written by Bourne and sent to former Trump lawyer and Big Lie pusher Sidney Powell. Powell subsequently sent that email to Bartiromo. A short while later (three minutes, to be exact) Bartiromo sent this email to her producer, and the next day Bartiromo had Powell on her show spewing the half-baked ideas from Bourne’s email. But what did Bourne write? Hold on to your seat, and maybe put a bunch of soft cushions around you.
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The Daily Beast reports that Bourne is a self-proclaimed “cactus artist” who, as far as anyone can tell, was a completely unknown person to Powell and Bartiromo before she was able to send this important email. According to Bourne herself, who spoke with The Daily Beast, she came up with a sort of unified conspiracy theory by reading a “variety” of sources that included hidden messages in movies and song lyrics, as well as “overheard conversations she hears while in line at the supermarket checkout.” Her theories are global cabal conspiracy theories of full media control over the government and everything else.
In November 2020, hours after media outlets (including Fox News) called the election for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, Bourne sent Powell (as well as former Howdy Doody impersonator Lou Dobbs and litigious right-wing activist Tom Fitton) an email. Bourne chose these people because they had clearly been big Trump defenders who had very frequently thrown out conspiracy theory-esque statements concerning “deep state” figures and the like.
According to The Daily Beast, the fact that this woman, previously unknown to Powell, who believes the election was possibly stolen by Dominion Voting Systems was able to get the Big Lie lawyer to bite is not the story. The story is that the email itself, from a complete unknown, which made all of the claims of a Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy to rig the election, was filled with a ton of Bourne’s other ideas about things. Those things, which Bartiromo and her producer seemed fine with, include:
- “Justice Scalia wasn’t accidentally shot during a hunting trip. He was purposefully killed at the annual Bohemian Grove camp. A club for members of the Mega-Group, during a weeklong human hunting expedition. NEVER accept an invitation to be a guest at that camp. Ever.”
- Explaining that she was “internally decapitated” during a car accident, which led to this revelation: “The Wind tells me I’m a ghost, but I don’t believe it.”
During depositions, Bartiromo admitted the email was “kooky, absolutely,” and David Clark, the producer of Bartiromo’s show, told lawyers that he would “concede that this e-mail is crazy.” But according to all accounts, Bartiromo and her team brought on Powell as a guest, and the two based their entire segment on one source: Marlene Bourne.
But that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that there seems to be very clear circumstantial evidence that Bartiromo ripped off the literal claims Bourne presented in the email:
Bartiromo repeated phrases from the email, like “longtime chief of staff,” “key executive,” and “significant shareholder”:
"I also see reports that Nancy Pelosi's longtime chief of staff is a key executive at that company,” Bartiromo said. “Richard Blum, Sen. Feinstein's husband, a significant shareholder of that company.”
The identical phrasing is more visible because Bartiromo’s claims, taken from Bourne’s email, are false. Dominion hired Elshami’s lobbying firm, but he wasn’t a “key executive” at the voting machine company. And Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has no financial connection to Dominion.
It is very important to note that Bourne is not the problem here. While her ideas are ridiculous and based on wind and “intuition,” and might be better handled by a professional who understands this kind of free-association thinking and internalizing, all she did was send an email. It is definitely alarming that she feels this way, but she isn’t the first person to have very grand unifying theories of conspiracy—and she won’t be the last. According to The Daily Beast, Bourne herself was surprised to hear her email was a part of the lawsuit and didn’t watch Fox News for the most part, because of how all media is a “psyops” (psychological operation) conspiracy.
None of this is particularly surprising, so much as it is disappointing. The cabal at Fox News has helped create an ecosystem of lies and falsehoods, fear and conspiracy, for decades now. The fact that it has spiraled down the drain of reality and into a sewer of deceit has real-world implications that don’t simply thwart the progress our country has made over decades. It also hurts our country’s ability to function and threatens the simplest foundational principles of what most Americans believe to be “freedom.”
Markos and Kerry luxuriate in the battle going on between Donald Trump’s ascending fascism and Mitch McConnell’s disappearing neocon establishment. The fighting has become much sharper recently as the MAGA-media outlet Fox News has traveled further and further away from reality.
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