- Earlier this month, however, the Indian American conservative political commentator and far-right provocateur was a toast of the MAGA world during the premiere of “2000 Mules” at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
Conservative political commentator and far-right provocateur Dinesh D’Souza’s latest film “2000 Mules” is full of so much nonsense that Fox News host Tucker Carlson and extreme right-wing Newsmax want nothing to do with it. The film, released earlier this month, claims “mules,” paid or unpaid political operatives placed ballots in multiple vote drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which were used to make voting easier during the COVID-19 pandemic. The film claims to be based on “a database of 10 trillion cell phone pings provided by the election integrity group True the Vote,” as noted by the Times of San Diego.
D’Souza took to Twitter on May 9 to denounce the conservative political commentator and the news and opinion website for not promoting his latest propaganda film peddling lies about ballot fraud in the 2020 election. The documentary was released last week.
In a separate tweet, he accused Newsmax of “blocking coverage” of the film. “Criticize the move if you like, but why isn’t this a legitimate news story? How can so-called news networks pretend it doesn’t exist?”
The cold reception from Carlson and Newsmax came as a surprise to D’Souza and his supporters, given that the conspiracy theorist, author and documentarian was praised by former President Trump and his MAGA gang at the premiere of the movie at Mar-a-Lago.
“Former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly peddled ‘rigged election’ lies unsurprisingly gushed that D’Souza had exposed the ‘great election fraud,’” reported The Associated Press. The screening was attended by the usual suspects of the MAGA world, as reported by Mediaite, a news website focusing on politics and the media. Spotted at the screening were Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), as well as Rudy Giuliani and his son Andrew Giuliani, conspiracy maven Lara Logan and teen vigilante killer Kyle Rittenhouse, among several others.
“2000 Mules” debuted in over 270 theaters across the U.S., according to a PR Newswire press release. On the first weekend itself, the film reportedly made over a million dollars on right-wing YouTube competitor Rumble’s subscription-based platform.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press conducted a fact check to determine whether someone visited a ballot drop box, particularly since those boxes were installed in high-traffic areas. “But that’s based on faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cell phone location data, which is not precise enough to confirm that somebody deposited a ballot into a drop box, according to experts,” the AP report said.
An analysis by correspondent Philip Bump in The Washington Post noted that the film “offers the least convincing election-fraud theory yet,” adding that it is a “triumph” of capitalism. “There’s huge demand for proving that Trump didn’t lose in 2020, and this film provides just enough of a veneer of authority to let people collapse comfortably into that belief,” he wrote. “That it doesn’t survive even mild external scrutiny is as irrelevant as pointing out contradictions in a religious text is to recent converts: They want to believe what they want to believe.”
Writing in The Bulwark, a center-right news and opinion website, founder and editor-at-large Charlie Sykes said D’Souza, in his “varied, but consistently deplorable career, has morphed from author/intellectual-manqué, to convicted felon, to racist/pro-Putin/ Trumpist troll — and now his latest role as cinematographer to the gullible.” He continued: “It probably will not come as a surprise to learn that the movie itself is a farrago of distortions, wrapped in half-baked conspiracy theories, and laugh-out-loud falsehoods.”
Although D’Souza has spent almost four decades in a cycle of provocation and controversy, he’s among the few who have enjoyed a grand comeback under President Trump after he issued a presidential pardon. D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to a felony conviction of recruiting straw donors who gave $10,000 each to an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). He routed the donations through his mistress and her husband. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sentenced him to eight months in a “work release center,” five years of probation, a fine of $30,000 and to perform “community service.” He was required to submit to “psychological counseling.” D’Souza was prosecuted by the former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.
However, D’Souza gloated on Twitter after his pardon to Bharara. “Wanted to destroy a fellow Indian-American to advance his career. Then he got fired and I got pardoned.”
With Trump’s pardoning, D’Souza returned to the conservative mainstream, as a pioneer of the kind of politics President Trump has brought to the national stage.
He is perhaps best known for his attacks on Barack Obama, first in 2010 with his book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and then in 2012 with a documentary based on the book. The book argued that Obama was carrying out the anti-colonial agenda of his Kenyan father.
According to The Week, in 2010, D’Souza penned an infamous Forbes cover story purporting to offer insight into “How Obama Thinks.” He argued that Obama was governing the U.S. according to the agenda of his father, a “philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions.” The piece was broadly panned, with Columbia Journalism Review dubbing it “a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia” and The American Conservative calling it “painful,” “inexcusably moronic,” and “simply stupid.”
D’Souza’s film, “2016: Obama’s America,” was one of the highest-grossing political documentaries of all time. He has repeatedly questioned Obama’s place of birth even after Trump dropped the issue in 2017, saying: “I was never a birther but what’s racist about asking where the son of a Kenyan foreign student visitor to America was actually born?”
D’Souza has also released a few other documentaries including “Hillary’s America” and “Death of a Nation,” which features white nationalist Richard Spencer, and compares Trump to Abraham Lincoln and Democrats to Nazis. Donald Trump Jr. co-hosted the 2018 premiere of “Death of a Nation.”
D’Souza attended Dartmouth College and was among the first editors of The Dartmouth Review, a conservative campus newspaper. The publication is said to have stirred uproars on campus during and after his term as editor.
After graduating from Dartmouth, D’Souza moved to Princeton, New Jersey, to edit Prospect, a small magazine that targeted Princeton students. The New York Times reported at the time that D’Souza’s most infamous article at Prospect concerned “a freshman whose mother had stopped paying tuition upon discovering her daughter was having sex with a fellow student.” Students reacted poorly to the violation of their classmate’s privacy, organizing a petition condemning D’Souza, The Times report said.
He then worked at Policy Review, then affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, after which he worked with the Reagan administration on domestic policy issues. After his brief stint, he joined the American Enterprise Institute and began writing his books there before leaving for the Hoover Institution in 2001, where he remained until 2007, according to a Newsweek profile on D’Souza. He was also president of The King’s College, a small evangelical school in Manhattan, from 2010 to 2012.
Following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, D’Souza defended the rioters with false claims that they were “political protesters” who had been unarmed, unfairly attacked by police and wrongly labeled as insurrectionists,” as reported by PolitiFact, a fact-checking website.