Some media stories are starting to read like dispatches from Pravda in the late 80s where the journos know that they’re spewing lies, but are expected to follow the party line, resulting in surreal nonsensical stories. That’s what the Washington Post has on tap right now.
Maryland was never in play in 2016. The Russians targeted it anyway. – Washington Post
You can see the problem here in the double headline. If Maryland wasn’t in play, then the Russian targeting was not about the election.
Except the Washington Post’s Derek Priest keeps playing its bizarre double game, building a convincing case why the Russian propaganda was not about influencing the election, while servicing the conspiratorial smears that made his paper successful.
Russia’s Twitter campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election in Maryland began in June 2015, 17 months before Election Day, when the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency opened an account it called @BaltimoreOnline and began tweeting about local news events.
So either the Russkis decided to get their op going over a year before the election in a state that wasn’t in play, or they were not trying to influence the election.
The tweet fit neatly into what would become a pattern for Russian activities in Maryland, a solidly Democratic state that hadn’t favored a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and wasn’t in play in 2016.
Yet, the IRA, the Russian troll factory U.S. prosecutors blame for the massive disinformation campaign during the 2016 campaign, devoted enormous attention and preparation to its Maryland campaign, all in a likely effort, experts say, to widen racial divisions and demoralize African American voters.
What would be the point of ‘demoralizing’ black voters in a state that was never in play, 17 months before the election?
Has anyone in the media heard of Occam’s Razor?
Millions of words have been devoted to Russia’s 2016 disinformation campaign, but virtually nothing to the role Maryland played in that effort. A Washington Post review of government-commissioned reports and interviews with experts revealed that the Russian campaign homed in on Maryland specifically in a way that set it apart from most other states.
In addition to creating @BaltimoreOnline, the IRA bought more Facebook ads targeting Maryland than any other state — 285, according to Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project and Graphika, two of three organizations that analyzed social media data for Congress. Of those, 193 targeted Baltimore in particular.
No doubt the Russians were really hoping to influence the Baltimore vote.
Of course we already know that the Russians spent most of their efforts targeting black people. The old KGB leadership is running Russia and was engaging in the same practices it had for generations.
Most of the Twitter accounts and publicly-available Facebook ads targeting Marylanders, a Post analysis showed, played up racial injustice, including one ad that displayed pictures of Gray, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, two others killed by police elsewhere. And @BaltimoreOnline continued to tweet even after the election, remaining on line until August, 2017, when Twitter finally became aware of its IRA connection and shut the site down.
That account in a state not in play, set up 17 months before the election, and kept going until August 2017, which targeted Baltimore, was a clear attempt to help Trump win the election.
But the party media must follow the party line.
The NAACP, which is headquartered in Baltimore, is preparing to counter any new effort. Derrick Johnson, the group’s president, said the group recently held talks with high-level social media corporate leaders to devise ways to counter such messaging and encourage African Americans to vote. The organization also plans a voter registration push tied to National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 24.
Johnson calls the Russian effort to convince black voters to stay home on Election Day “a new voter suppression method.”
Whom are you going to believe, the NAACP or the facts?
Using race to divide American voters is an old tactic, especially in the South, and it appears to have been successful in 2016, when voter turnout in Baltimore, where 63 percent of the population is African American, dipped to 62 percent, down from nearly 70 percent in 2004 and 2008.
Clearly this was a Russian conspiracy. There’s no possible other reason that black voter turnout would have dipped except the first black president not being on the ticket.
But turnout also dipped to 65 percent in 2012, even though the nation’s first black president was up for re-election.
The story is literally presenting the facts that are destroying its own narrative. It’s strangely schizophrenic.
Anyway, what Priest and the Post don’t mention is that black voter turnout nationwide in 2016 was 59.6%.
Baltimore actually exceeded national black voter turnout rates which fell from 66% in 2012.
What the stats here actually reveal is that Baltimore was following a national trend. The idea that Russian Facebook ads were responsible for the decline is, as media fact checkers, who don’t fact check themselves, like to say, unproven.
Cummings said Maryland residents should prepare for more efforts to stir up racial tensions. “The lengths that Russia is willing to go to in order to attack our democratic systems have become extremely clear,” he said. “Their attempts to leverage racial tensions in Baltimore to encourage people not to vote only highlight the need for immediate action to protect our elections.”
The lie is a lie. Now let’s repeat it some more.
Who’s running a disinformation campaign again?