‘2,000 Mules’ Producer Apologizes to Man Pictured Committing Election Fraud

Conservative media company Salem Media Group has apologized to a Georgian man who was falsely portrayed as committing voter fraud in the film “2,000 Mules,” co-produced and released in 2022 by Salem.

The documentary, written and directed by right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza, claimed that Democrats conspired with nonprofit groups to rig the 2020 election in favor of President Biden by using “mules” who stuffed ballot boxes in swing states.

More than a million people watched “2,000 Mules” in just the first two weeks after its May 2022 release, and the film grossed more than $10 million. His baseless allegations became an article of faith for countless Americans who were convinced the election had been stolen. Five months later, Salem published a companion book.

The film features surveillance video of Georgia man Mark Andrews as he drops off ballots at a drop box near Atlanta, as well as voice-over commentary from Mr. D’Souza a called this action a “crime” and added: “These are fraudulent votes.”

Although Mr. Andrews’ face is blurred in the footage, the film’s producers used unblurred versions of the same video to promote the film on various conservative media outlets, including Tucker Carlson’s former show on Fox News and a show hosted by Charlie Kirk, one of the founders of Turning. Point USA, and produced by Salem.

Mr. Andrews sued Mr. D’Souza, along with Salem and two individuals associated with the right-wing election monitoring group True the Vote, for defamation in October 2022. Georgia state investigators have since discovered that Mr. . Andrews committed no crime and that he had legally cast the ballots for himself and several members of his family.

“We never intended that the publication of the film and book ‘2,000 Mules’ would harm Mr. Andrews,” Salem said in a statement Friday. “We apologize for the harm caused by the inclusion of Mr. Andrews’ image in the film, book and promotional materials brought Mr. Andrews and his family.

Salem, one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasters, with 115 stations, also broadcasts radio content and podcasts, operates several websites, and publishes a number of conservative Christian-themed magazines. It announced Friday that it had removed “2,000 Mules” from its platforms and that it would no longer distribute the film and the book.

As the 2022 midterm elections approach, the film has become a focal point for various institutions and individuals claiming that the presidency was stolen from Donald J. Trump, who for his part called it “a the greatest and most impactful documentary of our time.” ” “

Several advocacy groups, inspired by “2,000 Mules,” formed to stake out ballot boxes – sometimes with individuals carrying firearms – and to warn voters against early voting.

But some of the film’s strongest promoters, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who attended a screening at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Fla., and Fox News, which aired several segments on the film, later admitted to spreading lies about the election. In February, a lawyer for True the Vote told a Georgia court that he had no evidence to support his claims of voter fraud in the state.

Despite these admissions, many Americans continue to believe that the 2020 election was rigged. A CNN poll last August found that more than two-thirds of Republican voters did not think President Biden won fairly.

Mr. D’Souza did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote, did not respond to a phone call or email seeking a response.

“2,000 Mules” relied heavily on cellphone location data provided by True the Vote, which Mr. D’Souza claimed showed mules approaching the polls several times a day, as well as attending the Black Lives Matter protests. The film purported to provide evidence of fraud in battleground states that were critical to the outcome of the 2020 election, including Georgia and Arizona. True The Vote officials claimed to have turned over evidence of fraud to the FBI.

But subsequent investigations debunked the documentary’s claims, and the Arizona attorney general referred True the Vote to the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service for investigation, noting that the group had provided no evidence to support its claims of fraud.

In September, a federal judge in Georgia rejected the defendants’ attempts to dismiss Mr. Andrews’ defamation case. The case is pending.

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