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!
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.
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
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.
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!