The FBI is reportedly investigating Huffington Post editor Nick Baumann for joking about ripping up election ballots for Donald Trump. In a recent op-ed, Baumann elaborated on the situation and pondered why the agency was devoting its resources to investigating him.
Humor can be used as a tool to cope with an uneasy situation, so after a rather contentious election people were comforted by professional comedians, late night hosts and Twitter trolls poking fun at it all. Maybe ruffling someone’s feathers is just a poor attempt at a joke, but many found it comforting regardless. So Baumann decided to get in on the fun and sent out a tweet joking about voter fraud conspiracies:
He quickly admitted the tweet was a play on Twitter user @randygdub’s viral tweet — an absurd joke at the expense of equally absurd voter fraud claims making the rounds on conspiracy theory websites, conservative news outlets and Trump’s Twitter account. Yet Baumann didn’t expect the joke to become as popular as the original, for numerous outlets quickly lambasted him while apparently forgetting to fact-check it. He even tweeted additional followups for further clarification, but it spiraled out of control:
That’s when the FBI apparently caught wind of the story and called Baumann on November 4. He initially thought it was a joke, but the situation turned all the more real when he received a verified email from the FBI saying they were investigating his tweets. Baumann noted his confusion at the inquiry, as certain federal parameters regarding members of the press forbid “overzealous” investigations like this one from occurring.