Tag: the media

Why Russian Influence Matters

Why Russian Influence Matters

Many Americans were simply stunned that Trump could possibly have been elected President. But the fact is that Trump actually lost the popular vote by quite a bit (almost 3 million votes).
Trump won by an 80,000 vote margin in just three states. That’s how close the election was. We know that some undetermined number of folks said that they didn’t really vote FOR Trump but rather AGAINST Clinton.       
We also know that break off “progressives” who either failed to vote or voted for Jill Stein and the Green Party had enough numbers in those states to have thrown the election back in Clinton’s favor.
We also know that ten million African American voters who turned out for Obama went back to not voting in 2016. While there were legitimate reasons for their lack of motivation, it’s a fact that they were targeted by Russian social media Trolls in an effort to discourage participation.
All of this points out the fact that the Russian backed, anti-Clinton campaign which spewed conspiracy theories non-stop throughout the election made the final difference. Far Right and far Left groups bought into, perpetuated, and magnified these Russian Troll created narratives.
Americans have to stop believing outrageous conspiracies that are designed to play to their prejudices and start getting into some sort of reality zone.
The right understands that the demographics in this country are against it. So they are busy extending and tightening their control of the nation’s media. Sinclair which is a very right wing corporation backed by big money from radical libertarian interests is making a concerted effort to extend its reach.
FOX News continues to be nothing but a disinformation organ for the far right and currently, the Trump administration. They serve to take the wildest fictions created by the ultra far right media like InfoWars and clean them up just a bit and make them seemingly respectable.
We know that anyone who listens to Alex Jones is, ipso facto, a nut job. But the right wing propaganda effort is a layered effort. They start with the totally wild crackpot ultra right talk shows. Then they take that essential message and clean it up and seemingly make it credible and respectable by running it through the massive FOX News network.
FOX brings on a mix of crazy right wing folks coupled with more mainstream Republican figures who lend some credibility to the reporting. But the overall message is only different in tone, not substance, from the insane narrative offered by the super far right.
If you want to give yourself a good wake up call, realize that FOX News is not the most right wing media network but rather the closest to the center of the vast right wing media disinformation network. Sinclair is quite a bit more right wing. And most of America is exposed to this propaganda effort 24/7.
The Russian owned media outlets in the US, Sputnik and Russia Today (RT) are somewhat transparent in their agendas. But what is less apparent is how many of the folks on their payroll seem to be engaged in messaging efforts designed to influence other media and especially social media campaigns. Coordination with Russian Troll farms makes what these folks are up to more sinister. They are really functioning as an extension of Russian intelligence operating freely here in the US.
Anyway, all of this combines to threaten the democratic process in which the will of the people is expressed through a vote. It represents an all out effort to control the sources of information and distort that info to shape the opinions of the voters. It has never in our history been as sophisticated or effective. And with media consolidation it is only going to get worse.

The Russian Scandal Is Not Just a Distraction

George S LedyardCatherine Rampell in the Washington Post (link below) writes that the Russian Scandal distract us from the REALLY important issues with Donald Trump’s Presidency.
 
“Focusing on the terrible things Team Trump did during the campaign and transition conveniently distracts you from all the terrible things Team Trump is doing during the presidency.”
I happen to think she’s dead wrong. Not because so many of the Trump actions aren’t really important. Not because they, in the long run, won’t effect each of us more than the Russian scandal.
It’s because no matter how disastrous his climate change denial is, the dismantlement of the EPA, the GOP Health Care atrocity, the dismantling of the Federal regulatory capacity, etc, NONE of these things is illegal.
The GOP has the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. If they can agree among themselves, the Democrats are helpless to do anything but watch them destroy everything we’ve built since the New Deal.
Our first chance of even slowing things down, under normal circumstances, would be 2018 and possibly taking back the Senate.
But we have the Russian Hacking and / Election Interference scandal. The sheer scope and scale of this scandal is possibly historic. The great scandals like the Teapot Dome Scandal, Watergate, Iran Contra, all may end up dwarfed by this one.
While yes, we as voters may find that we are being “distracted” by the daily revelations, more importantly it is the President, the administration, and the GOP Congress who are getting distracted to the point of being ineffective. The GOP Congress has passed almost no landmark legislation since the election. Almost all of Trump’s destructive actions have been done via executive order.
Frankly, the more time and attention that the President and the administration officials have to put on legal defense, testifying in the various investigations, defending themselves in the media, simply doing damage control, the less time they have to pushing through their disastrous agenda.
The strength of the GOP position in Congress only makes a difference if they are unified. As the Trump associated scandals deepens, they will lose their central focus, the one who provides a unifying leadership for their efforts. GOP representatives will find themselves needing to distance themselves from the sinking Trump ship and GOP party discipline in Congress will almost assuredly suffer.
Finally, criminal charges against administration officials with the consequent specter of impeachment for President Trump provide our best chance of stopping the Trump agenda even before the mid-terms, and certainly before 2020. Impeachment proceedings would almost certainly bring other Congressional business to a full halt. And, this scandal could well be the motivating factor in producing a record turnout at the mid-terms.
No matter how destructive and disastrous the various Trump initiatives are, none, with the possible exception of the health care issue, are likely to fire the base, get people involved politically, and turn out the vote the way the Russian collusion issue may. The extent to which we can hammer the administration over the scandal and let the GOP Congress know that we hold them responsible for being “enablers” of this dysfunction, is directly related to our ability to slow down or prevent destructive legislative initiatives from being pushed through.

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