Daily Archives: April 8, 2017

Parallels between Russian media meddling and right-wing propaganda spin

Media Matters for America had a good story this week describing changes in the news food chain, as fringe media have developed techniques to shoehorn misleading or false stories into the news (“The Susan Rice Unmasking Story Is A Perfect Case Study Of The New Pro-Trump Propaganda Ecosystem“).

Groups that used to be contained to their own bubble have been able to insert themselves into the food chain and been able to spread not just misleading, but patently false information to right-wing outlets and sometimes even in turn to mainstream media. A new dubious allegation regarding Susan Rice, former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, illustrates how this new pattern can spread pro-Trump misinformation and propaganda from fringe sources into mainstream media outlets.

What’s interesting to me is that this incestuous and multi-layered Alt-Right media machinery looks very much like the system used by the Russians in their attempt to support tRump’s candidacy in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Reread the Washington Post’s coverage, or go to the intelligence agencies’ report to Congress (at least the unclassified version).

From the Post:

The Russian campaign during this election season, researchers from both groups say, worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with “buzzy” content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.

Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports, the researchers say. On other occasions, RT, Sputnik and other Russian sites used social-media accounts to amplify misleading stories already circulating online, causing news algorithms to identify them as “trending” topics that sometimes prompted coverage from mainstream American news organizations.

The speed and coordination of these efforts allowed Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience. Some of the first and most alarming tweets after Clinton fell ill at a Sept. 11 memorial event in New York, for example, came from Russian botnets and trolls, researchers found. (She was treated for pneumonia and returned to the campaign trail a few days later.)

That’s very much like what Media Matters describes taking place in the case of the Susan Rice “story.”