The New York Times
had reported on the effort in January, referring to the
"Democracy Defense Coalition."
The Daily Beast
hinted at it in the fall. But the Time article is the most
in-depth report at what others suggested was going on behind the
The article by
Molly Ball, titled "The
Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved the 2020
Election," presents the effort as a heroic effort to
preserve a free and fair election, and to fend off President
Donald Trump's anticipated claims of fraud.
erase 'conspiracy theory' from your dictionary now.
It's all true...
however, also matches what she calls a "paranoid" view of an
effort to make it difficult for Trump to win:
between business and labor was just one component of a vast,
cross-partisan campaign to protect the election - an
extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the
vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and
For more than a
year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled
to shore up America's institutions as they came under
simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an
autocratically inclined President.
Though much of
this activity took place on the left, it was separate from
the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with
crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative
Their work touched every aspect of the election.
They got states
to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds
of millions in public and private funding.
They fended off
voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers
and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first
pressured social media companies to take a harder line
against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to
fight viral smears.
national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans
understand how the vote count would unfold over days or
weeks, preventing Trump's conspiracy theories and false
claims of victory from getting more traction.
Day, they monitored every pressure point to ensure that
Trump could not overturn the result.
That's why the participants want the secret history of the
2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid
fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging
across industries and ideologies, working together behind
the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws,
steer media coverage and control the flow of information.
They were not
rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they
believe the public needs to understand the system's
fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America
Ball describes the
participants in this plan as "democracy campaigners."
It was led by Mike
Podhorzer, a "senior adviser to the president of the
AFL-CIO," one of the nation's most powerful labor unions,
aligned with the Democratic Party.
In his apartment
in the D.C. suburbs, Podhorzer began working from his laptop
at his kitchen table, holding back-to-back Zoom meetings for
hours a day with his network of contacts across the
institutional left, like Planned Parenthood and
resistance groups like Indivisible and MoveOn
progressive data geeks and strategists,
representatives of donors and foundations,
state-level grassroots organizers, racial-justice
By April, she notes,
Podhorzer was hosting two-and-a-half-hour Zoom meetings with
other participants in the project.
They pushed Congress
to fund vote by mail, and persuaded Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
to contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to "election
(As Breitbart News
warned, Zuckerberg's donations
looked more like a Democrat get-out-the-vote effort, and was
aimed primarily at
Democrat-heavy counties in key battleground states.)
The campaign also used legal efforts to change voting procedures
during the COVID pandemic, leading to a "revolution" in mail-in
"Only a quarter
of voters cast their ballots the traditional way: in person
on Election Day," Ball notes.
The group also used a
"nameless, secret project" to fight "disinformation."
Their method was,
platforms to enforce their rules, both by removing content
or accounts that spread disinformation."
Ball does not mention
the New York Post's story about Hunter Biden's
laptop, but tech companies,
mainstream media outlets, and former intelligence officials
leapt in October to call the laptop potential Russian
"disinformation," and to suppress it.
Twitter blocked links
to the story, and also locked the Post out of its account for
more than two weeks. The story was later shown to be true, with
Hunter Biden announcing - after the election - that he was under
The group also decided to exploit the violent unrest that spread
across the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death in
May, and took steps,
"to harness its
momentum for the election without allowing it to be co-opted
Toward the end of the
election, Ball reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce set aside
old disputes to join the AFL-CIO in creating an alliance to
reject claims of election fraud.
Ball notes that some
Republicans also aided in the effort.
As Breitbart News
reported at the time, there was a nationwide left-wing movement
to unleash more unrest if Trump claimed victory in a close
confirms that the "shadow" effort was coordinating such efforts.
She adds that the
"national mobilization network" was told to "stand down" after
it appeared Biden would be the winner.
Later, she says, Podhorzer's network decided to make sure there
were few counter-demonstrators at the January 6 "Stop the Steal"
demonstration in Washington, DC, ensuring that blame for what
happened would be placed on Trump alone.