Information Warfare in 2020 Presidential Election

The thread below by Senator Chris Murphy is the impetus behind this post.

Joe Biden – and all of us – SHOULD be furious that media outlets are spreading what is very likely Russian propaganda. 1/ I’ve seen the intel. The mainstreaming of misinformation is Russia’s 2020 goal. Here’s what we know, and why we can’t take it lying down. 2/ Russia knew it had to play a different game than 2016. So it built an operation to cull virulently pro-Trump Americans as pseudo-assets, so blind in their allegiance to Trump that they’ll willingly launder Kremlin constructed anti-Biden propaganda. Guiliani was a key target. 3/ Andriy Derkach was a top Russian agent. He was unmasked by the Treasury Dept this summer. Derkach and his team recruited Guiliani and have been feeding him info all year. The White House knew this. The White House was warned that Giuliani was target of a Russian intelligence operation to feed misinformation to Trump from WaPo 4/ Whether he knows it or not, Giuliani is effectively a Russian asset now. It’s almost certain that any anti-Biden info he has is fed to him by Derkach and Russian intel.This should be patently obvious to any reporter worth his or her salt. Vowing crackdown on Russian meddling, US sanctions Ukrainian lawmaker who worked with Giuliani to smear Biden. from CNN 5/ And you don’t have to believe me. Believe the Department or Justice – Trump’s own FBI is investigating the “leaked” Hunter Biden emails as Russian spycraft.US authorities investigating if recently published emails are tied to Russian disinformation effort targeting Biden from CNN. 6/ Further, media don’t need a Pulitzer to see the whole story as super fishy. A pro-Trump computer repairman mysteriously comes across Hunter Biden’s laptop, copies the files, and guess who gets them? Russia’s top American asset – Rudy! Coincidence!! Meet the computer repairman at the center of New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story from Delaware Online 7/ Why is it important for media to not simply pick this story up and amplify it? Why should we be offended that the VP is being asked about it? Because this is Russia’s bet – that America, and its media, is so hungry for salacious stories that no one will vet their lies. 8/ And American media do have major credibility, for good reason. They do amazing work, and get most stories 100% right. Russia wants to use this credibility to their advantage. And that’s why we all have to be vigilant. Democracy depends on it.

I honestly don’t know where you guys stand on this (and based on what I know, Mitchell likely disagrees), but I totally agree with Senator Murphy. I’ll expand on reasons for this in the first comments post.

Was the Trump-Russia Investigation a Hoax?

Trump and his supporters claim the investigation into his campaign with regard to Russian interference in the 2016 election was a “hoax” and a “witchhunt,” and that there was no collusion. If that is true, then we can assume that they would be OK if Joe Biden and his campaign did the following:

  • “Russia, if you’re listening–if you have recordings or information from Trump’s cell phone, I’m sure the American press would be happy to receive that information.”
  • meet with Russian contacts to get political dirt on Trump or discuss campaign strategy, don’t tell the FBI about this and lie about it to the public;

We can assume that Trump and those who agree with him believe that such actions do not warrant the FBI to investigate, and if they did investigate, that would be a witch hunt.

I’m almost certain Trump and his supporters would not be OK with this, not on a matter of principle, but because it would hurt Trump. For me, I can say such actions by a presidential candidate and his/her campaign, is unacceptable and would be disqualifying. And yes, it constitutes collusion or a level of cooperation with a hostile foreign power that is unacceptable and disqualifying.

The Best Chance to Protect and Preserve U.S. Democracy Might Be Closing Fast

Since the congressional Republicans decided to acquit Trump, instead of removing him (aside: There’s little doubt that Hamilton and Madison would have removed him), the voting Trump out was the next best chance to protect and preserve our republic. But Trump has been working hard to undermine the legitimacy of the election; he’s attempted to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service to hamper mail-in ballots, and he and congressional Republicans have been willing to use Russian assistance to win the election. He’s suggested sending federal forces to polling stations. Basically, he’ll cheat, subvert the elections to win. The question is not what he will do, but what he won’t do. (Prediction: From here on out, Trump will either follow through on his rhetoric and/or do more shocking things to win.)Because of this, I feel the election may not be the best chance to protect our republic–or to be more precise, in order to protect the elections, actions must be taken now. I’ll briefly go over each step in this post. Continue reading “The Best Chance to Protect and Preserve U.S. Democracy Might Be Closing Fast”

Do Whites Not Want to Know About Racism?

That’s what one African-Amerian Seattle sportswriter suggested in the two tweets below, which comment on recent statements made by Pete Carroll. I’m less certain about that claim, and I’ll share my thoughts after the two tweets:

Examples of the Confusion and Difficulty with Navigating the Current Information Environment

There are two main positions regarding the lack of an informed citizenry in a democratic society. One emphasizes the failure of individual citizens–that is, they are apathetic or lazy, failing to think critically and put in the time to inform one’s self. The other emphasizes the effects of new technologies and media–specifically, the deluge of information and the eroding authority and influence of traditional curators of information. I use the word “emphasizes” intentionally, signifying that both aspects are important, but the difference in position is a matter of emphasizing one aspect over the other.

I fall into the latter group. Specifically, I believe that not only an informed citizenry, but a functioning public square, which is critical for a democratic society, depends on addressing some of the negative effects of new technology. My sense is that new technologies that change nature and flow of information requires societies to adjust, creating tools and processes to help individuals and institutions manage and make information meaningful and useful, versus the opposite. Knowledgeable, critical thinkers are important component of this process, but even if every citizen had these attributes, the problem would still be significant. In this thread, I hope to give some specific examples, primarily from social media, that illustrate this.