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.

Changing Journalism Requires Systemic Changes; Or, the Challenge of Covering Trump, Part 3

I previously wrote about some of the unique challenges the press faces in covering Trump. But I never really touched on the larger structural features in the press that prevent coverage that best serves the public. I want to write about that in this post. Specifically, I want to address criticism of press coverage that I see regularly. What’s interesting, in my view, is that I agree with their criticisms, but my sense is that they don’t seem to understand the obstacles that prevent the coverage they seek. For example, the solution isn’t simply editors and journalists simply choosing a different approach. In my opinion, the problem is systemic and structural; individual journalists are more like cogs in a machine than masters operating the machine. To put it more simply, Continue reading “Changing Journalism Requires Systemic Changes; Or, the Challenge of Covering Trump, Part 3”

Why I Am So Anxious About America

The topic may not be very interesting as the answers are multiple and obvious. But I’m writing an explanation in order to better understand my anxiety and in so doing maybe find some comfort. Better yet, maybe someone will provide insights that will come close to removing a large portion of my nervousness if not all of it. I’ll explain more in the first comment post.

The Tom Cotton Op-Ed Controversy at the New York Times; Or, the Challenge of Covering Trump, Part 2

There’s been a big controversy over the publication of an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, most notably among the Times staff–so much so that the op-ed managing editor and deputy managing editor have stepped down. This incident is part of a bigger, complex issue that doesn’t have any clear and easy solutions. I want to put in my two cents. I’ll do that in the first comments section. (I should say that I consider this post closely related to the thread, The Challenge of Covering Trump.)

Four Pieces of Writing That Must Be Read in the Trump Era

I really enjoy the experience of coming across a new idea that changes my perception or understanding in a significant way. I’ve been thinking about four pieces of writing that did that for–all of them crucial, I would say, to Americans. I list those articles, with a brief description, in the first comment. (Note: The title is more of an attention-getter than something I literally believe.)