A big story last week (at least according to the mainstream media) was the report that Russian twitter bots were involved in sowing the seeds of discontent between Americans over the NFL National Anthem protests. But a closer look shows the sources are flimsy at best.
The New York Times reported on the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s program that tracks 600 Twitter accounts they say are linked to Russia.
From the report: “Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent ‘had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,’ the researchers found. About 15 percent were critical of Hillary Clinton, falsely accusing her of funding left-wing antifa — short for anti-fascist — protesters, tying her to the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 and discussing her daughter Chelsea’s use of Twitter.”
To this I say: So? Do they really think we need Russian bots to make us outraged at NFL players disrespecting our National Anthem? Or that we needed Russia trolls to make us upset about Hillary’s bungling of Benghazi? Or that those articles wouldn’t have been shared without them? Seems like pretty standard Twitter fare to me.
The Washington Post reported on Sen. James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) claim of Russian Twitter trolls, but his example was Boston Antifa, a parody account, which was obvious with the tweet that was cited: “More gender inclusivity with NFL fans and gluten free options at stadiums, We’re liking the new NFL #NewNFL #TakeAKnee #TakeTheKnee.” Come on, just because someone says their location is Russia on Twitter doesn’t mean that it is and that they’re to be taken seriously even if that’s where they live.
Another Washington Post article highlighted an Oxford University study where it was supposed to be news that battleground states were targeted more heavily on Twitter with “junk news.” Newsflash: They were targeted more heavily on TV, radio, mail, phone, and everything else!
More from the report: “But in 12 battleground states, including New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida, the amount of what they called “junk news” exceeded that from professional news organizations, prompting researchers to conclude that those pushing disinformation approached the job with a geographic focus in hopes of having maximum impact on the outcome of the vote.”
But the biggest problem is how they defined “junk news.” This junk news was defined as “propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyperpartisan, or conspiratorial political news and information.” Oxford professor Philip Howard confirmed that “The distribution of junk, conspiracy and polarizing content across the country was not equal. Some states got more than others.”
Ideologically extreme, hyperpartisan, and polarizing political content is supposed to be junk? That describes 99% of all political content in all media, including mainstream outlets.
And funny how they separate “professional news organizations” from “junk news” by definition, as if these professional news outlets don’t get caught spreading fake news all the time! Howard went on to say that this “junk news” comes from three groups: “Russian operatives, Trump supporters and activists part of the alt-right, a group that includes white nationalists, anti-Semites and others who rail against “political correctness.”
Oh right, there were NO sources of left-wing junk news. They’re NEVER ideologically extreme, hyperpartisan, or polarizing! It’s only ever conservatives.
That just shows the bias of these “studies” that the media is so eager to report on. Anything involving Russia, they are so quick to jump on, without even stopping to think, “Does this make any sense?”
In their eagerness to attack Trump and try to find evidence of collusion with Russia where there is none, the professional news organizations become junk news themselves.
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