Elder Patriot – Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Democratic tech experts used “Russian-style” bots in order to help Democrat Doug Jones defeat Republican Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Senate race:
As Russia’s online election machinations came to light last year, a group of Democratic tech experts decided to try out similarly deceptive tactics in the fiercely contested Alabama Senate race, according to people familiar with the effort and a report on its results.
One participant in the Alabama project, Jonathon Morgan, is the chief executive of New Knowledge, a small cyber security firm that wrote a scathing account of Russia’s social media operations in the 2016 election that was released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The project’s operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore. It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.
Imagine that, the mercenary propaganda media helping spread negative reports on a conservative candidate?
“We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” the report says.
The funding came from Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn.
The money passed through American Engagement Technologies, run by Mikey Dickerson, the founding director of the United States Digital Service, which was created during the Obama administration to try to upgrade the federal government’s use of technology. Sara K. Hudson, a former Justice Department fellow now with Investing in Us, a tech finance company partly funded by Mr. Hoffman, worked on the project, along with Mr. Morgan.
According to the Times, a close collaborator of Hoffman was Dmitri Mehlhorn, the founder of Investing in Us.
Morgan also engaged Renée DiResta, who would later join New Knowledge. She was also the lead author of the report on Russian social media operations released by the Senate this week.
The Times also reported that Morgan had admitted that a generic page to attract conservative Alabamians had been created and that Mac Watson, one of multiple write-in candidates, contacted the page. Morgan was careful to say, “But we didn’t do anything on his behalf.”
Except, Facebook didn’t get that last message:
The report, however, says the Facebook page agreed to “boost” Mr. Watson’s campaign and stayed in regular touch with him, and was “treated as an advisor and the go-to media contact for the write-in candidate.’’ The report claims the page got him interviews with The Montgomery Advertiser and The Washington Post.
Fox News reported these events more accurately:
There you have it; Democratic operatives, backed by a liberal billionaire and facilitated by a former Obama official, created thousands of fake Russian accounts to give an impression the Russian government was supporting Alabama Republican Roy Moore in last year’s election against now-Sen. Doug Jones.
When the Russians did this Democrats screamed foul and have been on a two-year witch-hunt to link President Trump to the foul deeds.
Don’t expect anything of the sort in this case. Don’t even expect a long overdue look by the the Federal Elections Commission or the Department of Justice for Facebook’s illegal in-kind campaign contributions that regularly “influence” elections.