tales from the crypt of the rightwingnut blogosphere (where is susan berman?)

YOU KNOW THOSE “NEWS STORIES” that pop up all over the in­ternet one day and you can’t avoid them? You know, the ones that read, “Hillary to be in­dicted for frib­bing on the jimjam on her pri­vate server and lying about it!” You see them all over Face­book and they seem so gosh­darn im­por­tant and faster than you can say “Susan Berman” they’re gone!

In fact, there are so many of these non-story sto­ries on the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere that they’re im­pos­sible to keep track of! Last month I read an ar­ticle titled “Woman Shows Off Anti-Trump Poster While Doing Job. Problem Is, She Was Reg­is­tering People to Vote.” It was written by Vic­toria Taft for the In­de­pen­dent Journal Re­view (a con­ser­v­a­tive site).

Vari­a­tions of the story were all over the internet—although like most rightwingnut phe­nom­enon, they are al­most all copies of one another—and most in­cluded the same two-minute video.

 

There are so many of these non-story “sto­ries” on the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere that they’re im­pos­sible to keep track of!

 

As I looked into this story, I found it nec­es­sary to re­search con­tem­po­rary ter­mi­nology re­garding the terms freely bandied about by Ms. Taft and other writers. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant re­garding voter fraud—the meaning of which has nothing to do with the be­havior of the person in the ar­ticle.

I wrote a bit about voter fraud—which is ef­fec­tively non-existent in the United States!—and re­lated is­sues and posted it here on this blog as “is ‘voter fraud’ a new po­lit­ical buzz­word in the rightwing bl­o­gos­phere?

Please give it a read be­fore going any fur­ther into this ar­ticle!

 

Berman1

This is the less-than-flattering photo of the al­leged Susan Berman, the fraud­u­lently ac­cused fraud­ster, that is being used on the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere.

Just the facts, ma’am

The ar­ti­cle’s first lines are, “A woman got caught red-handed ap­par­ently breaking Nevada elec­tions law by a guy with a video camera. Truth Re­volt (a con­ser­v­a­tive site) re­ports that a Cal­i­fornia woman who claimed to work for the De­mo­c­ratic Party of Nevada ap­pears to be breaking the fol­lowing elec­tion law while reg­is­tering people to vote.”

So, ac­cording to the head­line and the first lines in the ar­ticle, the fol­lowing state­ments are facts:

1. A Cal­i­fornia woman in Nevada was reg­is­tering cit­i­zens to vote.

2. She was a De­mo­crat dis­playing an anti-Trump sign while so­lic­iting people to reg­ister to vote.

3. The above is il­legal and there­fore a crime in the state of Nevada.

4. She was “caught” by a “guy”—meaning she was videoed by a normal joe who hap­pened upon her with his cell­phone camera and took ac­tion.

 

Car­toon by David Rowe for The Fi­nan­cial Re­view of Aus­tralia.

Observations on those “facts”

Please watch the two-minute video and follow along as I ad­dress what’s ac­tu­ally in the video rather than what the ar­ticle claims is hap­pening. I have num­bered my ob­ser­va­tions below to cor­re­spond with the num­bered “facts” above.

1. The woman ap­pears to have been caught off-guard by the guy-with-the-camera, as she is clearly un­pre­pared for what hap­pens. The woman is not alone; she is with a man, pos­sibly working with him. She iden­ti­fies the man as a reg­is­tered Rep*blican. Oddly, the guy-with-the-camera has ab­solutely no in­terest in this man!

 

Based on the video and the rel­e­vant statutes, there is not suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence of a vi­o­la­tion of Nevada elec­tion law to war­rant fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion by this of­fice.

 

It’s hard to tell what ex­actly is going on, as it hap­pens quickly and the con­ver­sa­tion is dis­jointed and over­lap­ping. The woman does not say she is reg­is­tering anyone to vote.

She seems to be saying she is looking to get Dem and Rep voters to sign a form com­mit­ting them­selves to vote for Clinton.

2. She is clearly dis­playing a “Stand Up To Trump” flyer and she seems to ac­knowl­edge that she’d been handing out pro-Clinton pam­phlets or forms.

3. Based on a state­ment found later in the ar­ticle, the woman is not breaking any laws. (See It gets weirder 4 below.)

4. The guy-with-the-camera who “catches” her claims, “I’m part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion here” and says he works for Trump. So he clearly is not some normal joe who hap­pens upon this scene ac­ci­den­tally: he is part of an undis­closed in­ves­ti­ga­tion car­ried on by uniden­ti­fied per­sons.

As he films her making her un­ex­plained get-away, he catches her Cal­i­fornia li­cense plate on the front of her car. It is blurred out of the video.

 

This is the photo of Susan Berman found on the now-defunct web­site for Im­pact Re­search. I sup­pose there’s a re­sem­blance be­tween this woman and the woman in the video.

Meet Susan Berman of Impact Research

Ms. Taft’s ar­ticle and the others on the In­ternet are sim­ilar, and they’re all kinda weird be­cause the “story” is kind of weird. For ex­ample, al­though the woman does not iden­tify her­self in the video, within hours of this video being taken she was iden­ti­fied!

She is al­legedly Susan Berman, whose web­site claims that she Pres­i­dent of Im­pactRe­search. Her site also states that she holds a mas­ters de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­search from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, and is com­pleting a Ph.D. in Public Health from Saint Louis Uni­ver­sity.

“[Ms. Berman] pro­vides par­tic­ular ex­per­tise in re­search re­lated to be­hav­ioral health ser­vice is­sues in­cluding health care, ed­u­ca­tion, at­ti­tude and be­havior as­sess­ment, and media im­pact.

Berman has com­pleted in-depth re­search with pa­tients in France and acted as li­aison with sur­geons in var­ious coun­tries in­cluding; India, Italy, Aus­tria, China, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Nicaragua.”

If all that is true, then Berman should be a rather high-profile person, so what the hell was she doing in a parking lot in Nevada handing out Clinton flyers?

 

Car­toon by the inim­itable Ralph Steadman for The New Statesman.

Rightwing blogosphere gets weirder

At the time of the Truth Re­volt’ posting this ar­ticle, the Im­pact Re­search web­site was up and run­ning.

Now it’s down.

Gone.

Oddly, given the high-profile, in­ter­na­tional work that Berman claims to have done, there were and are no other list­ings on the in­ternet for this Susan Berman or this Im­pact Re­search!

How is it pos­sible that a person and or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps sur­geons around the world is un­men­tioned any­where else on more than a bil­lion web­sites on the in­ternet? 1

And weirder

Throughout Berman’s web­site, her or­ga­ni­za­tion is re­ferred to as Im­pact Re­search (and there is no space be­tween the words on the site). Yet the URL ad­dress for the site is “impactresearchinternational.com.”

Where did “in­ter­na­tional” come from?

 

And even weirderer

There is an Im­pact Re­search In­ter­na­tional lo­cated in South Africa! It claims that it was “Es­tab­lished in 2005 and, with of­fices in Pre­toria, Harare and Durban, Im­pact Re­search In­ter­na­tional (IRi) is a Reg­is­tered or­ga­ni­za­tion which pro­vides high-quality and lo­cally rel­e­vant re­search and ca­pacity building sup­port ser­vices to gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, non-governmental or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­ter­na­tional AID agen­cies, and pri­vate sector com­pa­nies in a wide range of areas.”

So they are not the same outfit.

It doesn’t violate the law

Re­member the de­f­i­n­i­tion of voter fraud from the ar­ticle linked above? Clearly, none of this ap­plies to the woman handing out pro-Clinton lit­er­a­ture. Ms Taft’s IJR ar­ticle ac­tu­ally in­cludes this ad­mis­sion:

“[Nevada] Sec­re­tary of State Bar­bara Cegavske’s of­fice said the video, which al­leges that the act of reg­is­tering voters must be done in a non­par­tisan fashion, doesn’t vi­o­late Nevada law. ‘Based on the video and the rel­e­vant statutes, there is not suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence of a vi­o­la­tion of Nevada elec­tion law to war­rant fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion by this of­fice’.”

Sec­re­tary of State Bar­bara Ce­gavske is a life­long Rep*blican who has a known in­terest in voting laws in her baili­wick, yet she claims that no Nevada law is being vi­o­lated!

 

What really happened?

Vir­tu­ally every ar­ticle on the in­ternet dealing with this in­ci­dent was posted on Au­gust 22-23, and then dropped. No follow-ups. Every site run­ning this ar­ticle ap­pears to be part of the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere (yes, little one, part of the Vast Rightwing Con­spiracy). Granted I didn’t in­ves­ti­gate them all; I just ran through a few on each of the first three Google pages and they were all of the same ilk.

I con­fess to being right antsy about sto­ries that are unique to this little part of vir­tual re­ality: given the re­cent shenani­gans of such rightwingnut or­ga­ni­za­tions as Bre­it­bart News in faking or doc­toring videos to em­bar­rass or de­stroy “lib­erals” (for ex­ample, the ACORN un­der­cover videos and the firing of Shirley Sherrod) should give anyone (in­cluding other rightwingnuts) pause, but don’t. 2

If the De­mo­c­ratic Party sent this woman and her male co­hort to ap­proach po­ten­tial voters, didn’t they do any looking into state laws?

Wouldn’t they have known that the woman and her partner were not breaking any Nevada laws?

Would the head of Im­pactRe­search be out in parking lots doing this work?

And is she was, why was she so timid with the guy-with-the-camera? Why not tell him, “Fuck off or I’ll call the cops”?

What re­ally hap­pened?

 

Berman’s website disappears

Ac­cording to the Way­back Ma­chine, Im­pactRe­search has been an ac­tive site since at least Jan­uary 31, 2011. (It wasn’t made up for the Truth Re­volt ar­ticle.) At the time of the ar­ticle, Im­pactRe­search was up and run­ning and had a con­tact email ad­dress.

I sent sev­eral emails to the site as­suring them that I was not part of the VRC and that all I wanted to know was whether or not Susan Berman was real.

I did not re­ceive a re­sponse.

Is Susan Berman the De­mo­c­ratic em­ployee the same person as Susan Berman the head of Im­pact Re­search?

If so, why did Susan Berman shut down her web­site? If she is a ded­i­cated Dem, she should be soaking this up, as she could be a minor na­tional celebrity among fellow Dems!

Hell’s Belles, this ex­po­sure could be in­cred­ibly pos­i­tive for her busi­ness!

I didn’t see her site say any­thing about her pol­i­tics, so she could be a life­long Rep*blican!

She may be shy. 3

But I don’t know.

And we won’t know un­less she comes out of hiding and tells us what the whole she­bang was all about.

Back to the rightwingnut crypt

It’s four weeks and a few days later, and this story is no longer a story. It would be nice if this sit­u­a­tion was cov­ered else­where, out­side of the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere. But not a single, re­li­able, rea­son­ably non-partisan news site picked it up.

Which is very, very strange.

This story just ex­ists in the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere, and now they don’t seem to care about it.

Could that be be­cause this is just an­other sham that didn’t catch on, and so is easily for­gotten?

I re­ally don’t know, so here’s my plea to Ms. Berman: Come out, come out, wher­ever you are …

 

FEATURED IMAGE: While I wanted to use an image of the Crypt Keeper from the movie Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight at the top of this page, I couldn’t find a de­cent shot. So I had to settle for this fan­tastic shot, which I found on “Tales from the Crypt TV Re­boot Hap­pening with Pro­ducer M. Night Shya­malan” on the Movie Web site.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   There is an­other Susan Berman: Susan Jane Berman was a jour­nalist and the daughter of Davie Berman, a Las Vegas mob figure. She wrote fa­ther’s role in that crim­inal em­pire. She was found mur­dered on De­cember 24, 2000.

2   If you don’t know An­drew Bri­et­bart and Bre­it­bart News by name, you know them by their man­u­fac­tured scan­dals. They are BIG be­lievers in the ends-justify-the-means theory of pol­i­tics.

3   Based on her web­site, the only re­sponse to the as­ser­tion of shy­ness is Hah!

 

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