Douglass Mackey, the social media influencer who was sentenced to seven months in prison in October for disseminating memes during the 2016 presidential election telling Hillary Clinton supporters to vote for her by text, has been freed pending appeal.
The ruling, handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will keep Mackey out of prison during his appeal.
Mackey, who at the time posted to social media under the name “Ricky Vaughn,” was convicted of election interference and voter suppression through a conspiracy to distribute memes instructing how to vote by text, a method not actually legal anywhere in the United States. Mackey did not create the memes but found them on message boards like 4chan.
Although Mackey and his defenders argued that the memes were satirical humor at the expense of Clinton supporters, the prosecution emphasized their claim that some 4,900 different phone numbers tried to text a vote to the number listed on the meme. However, they did not produce anyone who testified that he was genuinely fooled into doing so, as The Dallas Express previously reported.
In November, Mackey appeared on an episode of Tucker Carlson on X, formerly known as Twitter, to talk about his conviction as he prepared for incarceration.
Carlson played a clip of Hillary Clinton talking about Mackey’s conviction, in which she claimed, “He went from what you could consider free speech … to running a very deliberate effort to mislead people about where and how to vote. So it went from speech to action meant to subvert the election because thousands of people who they targeted through their algorithms, ‘Oh I can text my vote for Hillary Clinton.'”
Mackey responded to the clip by denying that he used any algorithms to disseminate the memes, and that he did what others had done and simply copied and reposted the memes. He also said he had no idea he was in legal peril for the memes until FBI agents came to his home and placed him under arrest on an early morning seven days after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president.
Mackey claimed that although the prosecution did not produce anyone who actually tried to vote by text as a result of the memes, it was not for lack of effort.
“They went around and interviewed people because they would have loved to put someone on the stand who didn’t vote because they thought they could text their vote. They couldn’t find a single person,” Mackey told Carlson.
About the same time that news spread on social media that Mackey had been ordered released, former President Donald Trump — who defeated Clinton in 2016 — defended Mackey in a video posted to social media.
BREAKING: PRESIDENT TRUMP STANDS UP FOR DOUG MACKEY, SLAMS THE DEMOCRATS FOR ATTEMPTING TO THROW HIM IN JAIL FOR MEMES https://t.co/o3Qtn4rbj8
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) December 5, 2023
“Crooked Joe [Biden] and his henchmen have tried to shut down free speech with a massive government censorship operation to silence their critics. They are putting Douglass Mackey in jail for sharing a joking meme about Hillary Clinton seven years ago. Nobody ever heard of anything like that.”
Mackey also took to social media to comment on the favorable ruling.
“I am gratified by today’s ruling and look forward to the Second Circuit’s resolution of the important questions presented by my appeal,” he posted to X.
Not all observers were happy about Mackey’s reprieve. One account on X called Forever1984, in response to a post of the court’s order, said, “Oh please. He’s guilty for explicitly on the record claiming to attempt to suppress the black vote, used official Clinton campaign logos, and disclaimers to appear like a legit Clinton ad. There are literally text messages that say Doug Mackey’s intention was to trick voters.”