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Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:40 PM

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President


But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world’s demagogues and strongmen in power.

Every presidential campaign sees its share of spin and misdirection, but this year’s contest promises to be different. Potemkin local-news sites, micro-targeted fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting. Both parties will have these tools at their disposal. But in the hands of a president who lies constantly, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and who readily manipulates the levers of government for his own gain, their potential to wreak havoc is enormous.

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.

The campaign is run from the 14th floor of a gleaming, modern office tower in Rosslyn, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Glass-walled conference rooms look out on the Potomac River. Rows of sleek monitors line the main office space. Unlike the bootstrap operation that first got Trump elected—with its motley band of B-teamers toiling in an unfinished space in Trump Tower—his 2020 enterprise is heavily funded, technologically sophisticated, and staffed with dozens of experienced operatives. One Republican strategist referred to it, admiringly, as “the Death Star.”

Presiding over this effort is Brad Parscale, a 6-foot-8 Viking of a man with a shaved head and a triangular beard. As the digital director of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Parscale didn’t become a household name like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. But he played a crucial role in delivering Trump to the Oval Office—and his efforts will shape this year’s election.

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Reply The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (Original post)
blueseas Feb 2020 OP
crickets Feb 2020 #1
blueseas Feb 2020 #2
Zeus69 Feb 2020 #3
Rhiannon12866 Feb 2020 #4
blueseas Feb 2020 #5

Response to blueseas (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 06:38 PM

1. Well, this article is definitely a wake up call.

No wonder Zuckerberg doesn't want Facebook to deal with dishonest political ads or to follow Twitter's lead by banning them altogether. His employees may not be directly involved in making them, but certainly have been helpful in their deployment.

James Barnes, a Facebook employee who was dispatched to work closely with the campaign, told me Parscale’s political inexperience made him open to experimenting with the platform’s new tools.

Data mining, stealth text campaigns, media hit jobs, and an all out war on reality...

But in the Trump era, an important shift has taken place. Instead of trying to reform the press, or critique its coverage, today’s most influential conservatives want to destroy the mainstream media altogether. “Journalistic integrity is dead,” Boyle declared in a 2017 speech at the Heritage Foundation. “There is no such thing anymore. So everything is about weaponization of information.”

It’s a lesson drawn from demagogues around the world: When the press as an institution is weakened, fact-based journalism becomes just one more drop in the daily deluge of content—no more or less credible than partisan propaganda. Relativism is the real goal of Trump’s assault on the press, and the more “enemies of the people” his allies can take out along the way, the better. “A culture war is a war,” Steve Bannon told the Times last year. “There are casualties in war.”

It's all out there, humming along. I am about halfway through the article and need to take a break before finishing it, but my one takeaway from this so far is that the Democratic party candidates, presidential in particular, need to steel themselves to deal with this head on.

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Response to crickets (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 08:56 PM

2. I am hoping this gets to the right people

Let everyone see what is happening.

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Response to blueseas (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 09:05 PM

3. This is some scary stuff

Scary that they are doing it but even more scary that millions are buying it!

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Response to blueseas (Original post)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 03:25 AM

4. Interesting - but terrifying - article!

People who vote are buying this! Explains a lot...

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Response to blueseas (Original post)

Tue Feb 11, 2020, 05:54 PM

5. Clog the lines': Internet trolls deliberately disrupted the Iowa caucuses hotline for reporting resu

Some users chimed in, posting alleged wait times on hold, imploring others to “clog the lines [and] make the call lads.”

Rob Sand, the state auditor of Iowa, said he took results calls on Monday night as a volunteer and received an influx of calls that appeared to have been generated by a post on the internet.

“A lot of calls came in at a certain point where it was clear somebody had published the hotline number somewhere,” Sand said.

He cautioned that he could not speak for other people who were taking calls and said he did not get any calls that said they were from Trump supporters. He added that the system prevented people from reporting fake results.

He also said he was able to identify fake calls quickly.

“If I picked up the phone and it was clear after the first handful of words that someone was not calling to report the results, I just hung up,” Sand said.

Mandy McClure, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, confirmed that the hotline received “an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump.

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