The Good Fight is finally back! The first episode of Season 2 begins with the death of oh, so many lawyers—one of them a divorce lawyer killed by his own client. But the death that is bound to make the most impact on the storyline is that of Carl Reddick, founding partner of Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad which Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) joined after being forced out of her own firm in this spin-off of the long-running and now retired The Good Wife.
The entire episode happens in one day—from the church service to the interment to the repast at the house of Reddick’s daughter, Liz Lawrence (Audra McDonald). Liz looks like she is going to be a major character in the series and she is introduced by way of another jab at Donald Trump. Smack in the middle of the church service, she quits her job as Assistant U. S. Attorney to pre-empt being fired after she posted a tweet calling Trump a white supremacist.
Episode 1 shows us that after an influential person dies, the power vacuum he leaves behind gives way to struggles and manipulations, and how his own funeral is not only a social event but also a venue for power grab and re-alignment. It’s fascinating how, during and after the church service, a major client is lost, a partner is pirated and how a wily FBI investigator conducts her investigation in the same shady manner that made her so-delicious-to-be-strangled-halved-drawn-and-quartered in Season 1.
It also integrates into the storyline how the FBI manipulates (and even invents) evidence in order to trap suspects. The story might be fiction but audio manipulation software does exist and is being used to create and propagate fake news.
In the other storyline that involves Maia Rindell (Diane’s goddaughter whose father was arrested in Season 1 for running a Ponzi scheme which left Diane, among others, bankrupt), FBI investigator Madeline Starkey (Jane Lynch) uses the occasion of Carl Reddick’s funeral to corner Maia (Rose Leslie) with an offer for her exoneration in exchange for information on the whereabouts of her father, Henry (Paul Guilfoyle).
According to Starkey, a woman withdrew money from a bank account in Dubai set up by Maia’s father. Maia recognizes the woman as “Rosalie”, her tennis coach from 12 years ago who was fired by her parents because they were getting too intimate. Starkey also hands Maia a flash drive with an audio of a conversation between Rosalie and her father which sounded very much like they are lovers.
Feeling betrayed that her own father would get romantically involved with Rosalie, Maia almost loses it were it not for the inherent distrust that her lawyer Lucca Quinn (Cash Jumbo) has on Starkey. Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad’s own investigator, Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi), plays an audio between U. S. President Trump and Henry about to engage in phone sex to demonstrate to Maia and Lucca how conversations could be invented.
Jay tells them, “It’s audio manipulation software developed by the FBI. You feed it 40 minutes of any voice and you can create any conversation from scratch… A brave new world; mistrust everything.”
On Lucca’s suggestion, an audio of a fake conversation is created to make it appear that Henry is back in Chicago, is staying at Madeline’s basement, that Madeline knows it and is friendly enough to have pajama parties with him. That, of course, throws off Madeline.
The interesting question, of course, is whether audio manipulation software exists and whether it was, in fact, developed by the FBI. Google results reveal that audio manipulation software does exist and one was developed by Adobe—yes, the same company that made Photoshop.
Looks fun, doesn’t it? Except that technology is being used for more sinister purposes—including the creation of more believable fake news. Not that dissemination of fake news is new. Mainstream journalism has had a sub-culture on fake news reporting for ages. But when fake news is supported by what, to the average person, appears to be credible evidence, it’s a whole new game.
The second part of the question is whether the FBI does in fact use technology such as audio manipulation for illegal—or, at the very least, quasi-legal—purposes. Nothing documented categorically points to an affirmative answer. Yet. However, it has been documented that the FBI has, in the past, used fake information to disrupt and discredit legitimate political organizations. One of the known tactics of COINTELPRO (short for COunter INTELligence PROgram), for instance, was planting false stories in media. Known targets of the operation included Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, civil rights organizations and even The National Lawyers Guild. COINTELPRO was successfully kept secret for almost two decades until, in 1971, a citizen’s group broke into an FBI field office, stole documents and exposed COINTELPRO.
Imagine COINTELPRO being successful without the benefit of sophisticated technology. It would be interesting to find out if there is a contemporary version of COINTELPRO and whether it is using technology like video and audio manipulation software to undermine certain persons and sectors.