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The Program, This American Life Falsely Reported that Doug Maguire was Involved in the IMS Production, We Need to Talk about Sandy Hook. This Video is Intended to Set the Record Straight.

CORRECTION: Research into the Aurora Colorado theater shooting took place in 2012, not 2011.

This American Life: Beware the Jabberwock

By IMS Staff


Back in 2012 when the Sandy Hook event took place, there was a well established network of amateur journalists and commentators publishing commentary and reports on various topics. The Internet provided them a technologically feasible and affordable platform for their blogs, podcasts and videos. This was the case with those who would become members of our group, IMS. I had been publishing since 2007 on my blog and later my YouTube channel under the moniker, Tyranny News Network. Myself and others had just in 2011 published reports about the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting. So it wasn’t unusual that we began publishing reports about the Sandy Hook shooting.

What was unusual was that Sandy Hook inspired over a dozen individuals to form our group and publish a full-length documentary featuring segments produced by 10 individual group members. The group we formed in 2014 is called Independent Media Solidarity, or IMS.

Show Producer & Guest Portray IMS and other Independents as Crazy Liars

The March 15, 2019 episode of This American Life entitled, Beware the Jabberwock – Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell reports about our group. Most of what they report is false or misleading, so this short video is intended to set the record straight with regard to what was reported.

Doug Maguire, who is featured in the episode was once a member of IMS. It is our assumption, although we can’t be certain that it was he who provided the show hosts with the information about our group. Let’s listen to a segment of the program, which begins at 20:13…

Miki Meek –
But while Lenny was escalating his tactics, so was the other side. Around the second anniversary of Sandy Hook, a small group of conspiracy theorists made an almost three hour movie on YouTube, questioning the shooting. They described themselves as independent journalists and researchers, but their backgrounds were totally random. They included a magician, the owner of a moving company, a guy who’d been arrested for stabbing someone five times, and a stay-at-home dad.

I’ll pause the program right there to address a couple things. First, they state that “Lenny was escalating his tactics, so was the other side.” This implies that producing a documentary to educate others about an anomalous public event that was concerning to us was some how a tactical move. While correct in one sense, it also comes across like the host wants listeners to view it as something negative. She goes on to refer to us as “a small group of conspiracy theorists.” Once again, I would deem that to be only vaguely correct at best. We did very little theorizing in our documentary. The rest of the information is generally correct. Let’s return to the program…

Doug Maguire –
I just had an idea that I wanted to be an underground filmmaker myself.

Miki Meek –
This is Doug Maguire. He says he met this group online, on YouTube, and got brought in at the end to help polish the movie. It felt exciting. At the time, Doug was a struggling filmmaker in Los Angeles. Occasionally did some stunt work. He got into conspiracy theories the way lots of people do– watching them on YouTube. Like Lenny, he loved the ones about Bigfoot and UFOs. But then he went to look up news about Sandy Hook, and YouTube’s recommendation system started suggesting hoax videos.

He didn’t believe the theory that the kids were actors. He thought children died, but he felt pretty sure there was some other kind of cover up going on, maybe one with the mafia.

Doug’s Involvement With IMS

What was just said about Doug’s involvement with our group and our documentary is incorrect and what was said about Doug’s beliefs is highly unlikely. Here is how Doug became a member of IMS, and I should know because I was the one who nominated him for membership. It began when Doug reached out to me via email to express his appreciation for my work independently. I later learned that he had watched all of my videos, which would have numbered over 200 at the time. I responded with a fairly short message thanking him and telling him to stay tuned, there was more to come. In later emails he explained that he had produced and directed the film, Bank Roll which had won 6 or 7 film awards. He sent me a link to a director’s cut and I thought it was an extremely impressive film.

We eventually decided to video chat via Google Hangouts. That initial conversation was over 2 hours, in which we both learned a lot about each other and I learned why Doug had decided to abandon his Hollywood career. He seemed generally dismayed with how corrupt and conniving the entertainment industry was, which I have a strong concerns about as well. He also explained to me that he had some minor mental health issues that were dealt with through medication. From what I gathered at the time, it was a classic case of depression and anxiety which he seemed to have in check.

We had much in common and were both creative individuals. So it seemed natural that Doug asked me to collaborate on a music video spoof about the Boston Marathon Bombing, which he entitled “2 Bombs in Backbacks.” I was impressed with Doug’s production and comedic abilities. He was also keen to incorporate much of what I proposed to include, sometimes even improving upon my concept. That short video was the only collaboration between the 2 of us, but was a big hit on YouTube.

Around the time of that video’s launch our group’s first documentary, We Need to Talk about Sandy Hook was nearing completion. Doug was not a member of our group at that time, nor was he ever privy to the production underway. When the documentary launched in late 2014, Doug was very supportive and encouraging, sharing and promoting it online. Once the initial promotion and controversy over the documentary had settled down somewhat, Doug expressed interest in joining our group. Based on the merits of his film and our experience collaborating on the music video, I was more than happy to nominate him for membership. Our group requires that new members be nominated by a current member and only become probationary members if there are no objections. So Doug became a member of IMS.

Almost immediately there was a problem. I received a call at around 1 o’clock in the morning from Doug’s wife. I had never spoken to her before. She told me that she had some concerns about Doug, concerns about his mental health and how it was effecting their relationship. After a short time of mostly just listening to her explain the situation and attempting to empathize without having much in the way of suggestions, I could tell that Doug was with her. That was somewhat of a relief, since I didn’t want to have to confess to Doug that I had been communicating with his wife. Eventually Doug took over the call and he and I ended the conversation.

It seemed that Doug’s wife was concerned that he was becoming too deeply involved in conspiracy research, not knowing exactly how dark or dangerous a world that may be. I think that through talking with me and getting the sense that I was a rational person, she was put at ease somewhat. I can’t recall for sure, but I believe Doug had stopped taking medication at that time which may have caused a change in his behavior.

But in the next few weeks, I started getting messages from Doug like, “I’m leaving my wife and going full time into my work with IMS.” My responses were always to slow down and think things through. Doug had both a beautiful wife and young son, which I tried to convince him were not worth sacrificing. Understand that, at that time Doug had not yet collaborated with IMS at all.

When it came time for Doug to join us for our weekly web conference, I knew that he had moved out of his home but didn’t know where he was staying. When he came on the conference, he was in a dark room and shirtless. His first comments were that he had just finished having sex with a woman he met on Tinder. I did my best to laugh it off as Doug being quirky. It was obvious though that the others on the conference were put off by Doug’s behavior somewhat. In the coming weeks Doug explained that his relationship was unsalvageable and that he was staying with a friend. Not much later Doug was living in his car.

That was probably a lot to take in. So let’s return to something stated in that last clip…

Miki Meek –
He says he met this group online, on YouTube, and got brought in at the end to help polish the movie.

As I stated, Doug never collaborated with IMS on anything whatsoever. He most certainly did not have any involvement in the production of We Need to Talk about Sandy Hook. It isn’t very likely that the show producers made this assumption on their own. So Doug probably provided this false information to them. In either case, I think the show was negligent by not contacting our group to confirm any of the details they reported about our group.

Let’s pick up the segment where we left off…

Miki Meek –
And where did you get that information? Like, where did you come up with this idea of a mob? Had you read this somewhere?

Doug Maguire –
No, it was– you know, because I make movies. So I think I have an active imagination.

Miki Meek –
I’m confused. What was your thinking?

Doug Maguire –
A family had done someone wrong. Like, let’s say the movie Goodfellas, OK? Henry Hill is hiding out in a little village.

Miki Meek –
He also mentioned Kindergarten Cop. When they released their film, they uploaded it to a bunch of different accounts, on places like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion. Pretty soon, it was showing up everywhere. To combat this, Lenny had to change tactics one final time. No more talking to hoaxers one-on-one. Now the thing he’d focus on was content removal, scrubbing their stuff off the internet.

The host is referring to the massive wave of uploading that took place within days of our documentary being published. Their claim that we uploaded it to a bunch of different accounts simply isn’t true. We uploaded it to YouTube, but it was taken down. We then uploaded it to Vimeo, but it was taken down there in less than 24 hours. Finally we uploaded it to Internet Archive, where it was also removed. The bunch of different accounts mentioned by the host were actually hundreds of individual YouTube channels that took it upon themselves to upload our nearly 3 hour video.

The host then says there would be no more talking to hoaxers one-on-one. The show paints a picture of Mr. Pozner reaching out to people questioning the Sandy Hook shooting. This notion seems largely invented, although I can only draw from my personal experience and that of our group members. To my knowledge, Mr. Pozner never once reached out to myself or any other member of IMS except indirectly through video take-down notices he initiated. And the show implies that our first documentary on the topic of Sandy Hook was the largest target of his censorship campaign.

Miki Meek –
He decided he was going to get every single copy of the movie taken down, which wasn’t going to be easy. He couldn’t just write into YouTube and say, “hey, this video is full of lies.” That wasn’t going to be enough. The internet is full of lies. He needed something else. And he realized he had it.

These conspiracy theorists had used photos and videos of him and Noah and Veronique. Those were his property, making this movie a copyright violation. The stolen images were now a useful weapon. Lenny tracked down every place where this video was posted. And you’ve probably seen this. There’s a little button you can click on to report stuff. So that’s what he did for hours every day. And success. Sort of. The hoaxers kept reposting and moving the video onto other sites.

Our documentary did not unclude any video footage of Mr. Pozner or his children. The single clip of Mrs. Pozner was an excerpt from a public hearing that was in the public domain. The few images of the Pozners were obtained from just 2 sources, the Associated Press and Facebook. First, images published by the AP are commonly re-published under fair use and only the AP may dispute that use. Facebook’s published terms at the time of our documentary’s release state that all images uploaded to Facebook user accounts become the property of Facebook. There again, it would be only Facebook that could dispute republishing of such images.

Miki Meek –
One surprising thing that happened over the years is that some of the hoaxers who used to harass Lenny flipped to his side. There were dozens of them. Lenny says these were people who came to him only after they changed their own minds, not people he tried to convert. He says that never works. It’s a waste of time. Some of them became disenchanted when they saw Sandy Hook hoaxers who were more interested in photo shopping evidence and getting online followers than tracking down the truth.

One of them was Doug, who worked on that hoaxer movie about Sandy Hook. In 2016, he found a phone number for Lenny and left a voicemail.

Doug Maguire –
“Hey, Lenny Pozner, this is dickhead Doug Maguire. If you ever need me, if you ever want to get a hold of me and learn about what all these people are up to, here’s my number.”

Miki Meek –
Not surprisingly, Lenny didn’t return his call. Doug was reaching out to Lenny because the hoaxers had turned on him, too. He says he started feuding with some of them after he made a video exposing a Christian YouTuber who was making money off false, outrageous claims. All of his social media accounts then got hacked.

Lenny was the only person he could think of who knew how to fight back. He wanted advice. So he tried him again, and got through. He told Lenny that it felt like he’d been sort of brainwashed. That he’d been on a roller coaster ride, that he wanted to switch sides. Lenny had started a nonprofit called The HONR Network, where volunteers help families from mass tragedies fight digital harassment. So Doug began helping him scrub content.

The host frames the changing relationship between Doug Maguire and IMS as feuding after we turned on him. Here’s what actually happened.

At that point a few months passed where Doug was still an IMS member but had yet to work with us in any capacity. We were also well into production of our second documentary, The Life of Adam. There were many things that took place in Doug’s world during this time that I don’t have much knowledge of, like losing access to his social media accounts and being hospitalized for mental health reasons.

But as I was scrambling to meet the deadline for our second documentary we received a post to our private group from Doug that included a link to a video he had posted to YouTube. In his message he explained in effect that the IMS logo he had included at the beginning was just temporary for some reason and he was going to take it out. I watched his video, which was fairly short and made accusations of various kinds about another YouTube video producer, Vigilant Christian.

None of us knew anything about the issues he raised in the video, nor had he shared anything with us previously. I responded to his message by saying I’m swamped and will have to take another look later. I also said I was glad he would be removing the IMS logo, as it wasn’t an IMS production. IMS has clear policies that specify all IMS publications have to be presented for review to the group. My tone was very friendly and even added a couple emojis. Another member also responded to reiterate that he should be sure and remove the logo. I then resumed the race to complete our documentary and didn’t check messages for 24 hours or longer.

But it was took late. Doug had left 2 lengthy and vitriolic messages in which he burned every bridge with us imaginable. It was as if we had become mortal enemies. The other member and myself both left Doug brief messages trying to smooth over the conflict and understand what had happened. That was the last involvement Doug had with IMS.

That wasn’t however, the last time I’d hear from Doug. Beginning in January 2016, after the release of our second documentary, Doug began to leave a string of dozens of voicemails. The majority were very unhinged. Just to give you an idea, here is the first message he left me on January 12th, 2016…

Doug Maguire VOICEMAIL –
Are you going to call me back This is doug McGuire my phone number is XXXXXXXX sure you have it now. I just left a message on your mobile phone, and I’m going to leave it here on your Google voicemail and see that you just added Steve shot and into the IMDb database okay you put another Steve shine and attached into we need to talk about Sandy hook, and that was done under my account. I did not do that so you need to f****** fix that right this second because not everyone believes, It’s Sandy. Hook was a hoax now. I talked about this in the previous voicemail. I happen to think it is oh okay, but to attach some interesting guy that has no idea probably the what the f*** Sandy hook it. In to see that he did the music for a song in that movie you could f****** ruin his career buddy. So you need to fix this now that you got your own f****** IMDb account okay? Because that s*** was done under my name for my account. I did not add that name in there Peter June f****** kid.

And your ims local you want to talk to me about how awesome it is and how f****** precious it is don’t use our go go go don’t use our logo. f***. You you stupid Loco. Okay, and guess what else I’m going to try to watch that video right now, and I want to leave a comment and if my f****** Carmen gets deleted old buddy there so much trouble on your head. I’m so f****** pissed at you.

To be clear, I never did return any of Doug’s calls or communicate with him in any way. I was hoping that being out of touch a full year or more would discourage Doug from any further action. Eventually he stopped leaving messages. In the months since then, I’ve seen Doug’s name only occasionally, usually involving some troll war.

Fast forward to the March 2019 episode of This American Life. All mistake.s aside, I find the episode to be decent. And the final segment features an Alex Jones expose by Jon Ronson, whom I think is an unfortunate worm. But the show ultimately focuses on online harassment from conspiracy theorists. And none other than Lenny Pozner is given a generous platform for his already stale message of perpetual victim-hood, claiming his remaining life must be spent protecting the honor of his family.

The false reporting that Doug Maguire was involved in an IMS production is the show’s fault. Miki Meek produced the segment, and ironically joined the staff in December 2012. She, Editor David Kestenbaum or fact checker Christopher Swetala could have contacted us for confirmation. Our intent is not to castigate Doug or challenge any of his other remarks. It’s even possible that producers doubted Doug’s story and went with it anyway. After all, we don’t hear Doug’s remarks directly.

Is it possible that Doug clearly identified both IMS and We Need to Talk About Sandy Hook in the interview? Is that why they chose instead to have a producer paraphrase without naming names? If so, clever.